Commissioners to look at budget, taxes, bar restrictions
SALISBURY — County commissioners will discuss the upcoming budget Monday before considering a plan to raise sales taxes and lower property taxes.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will consider the tax proposal at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Rowan County Administration Building. Prior to the regular meeting, commissioners will hold a planning workshop at 3 p.m. to discuss the county’s 2013-14 budget.
In a note to the board, Commissioner Craig Pierce said he has calculated that between 38 and 42 percent of county taxpayers pay property taxes, meaning that the majority do not.
“This is not only unfair but it is a business model that can’t maintain our future growth,” he wrote. “I propose a sales tax increase of 1 cent per dollar to help offset the cost of capital improvement, current construction at (Rowan-Cabarrus Community College) and to offer a minimum of 2 cents per $100 tax value reduction to our property taxpayers.”
A quarter of the 1 percent sales tax increase would be reserved for capital projects.
Come out ahead
Pierce said calculations from Finance Director Leslie Heidrick show that the county could net $175,000 by reducing property taxes by 5 cents. If the sales tax revenues are shared with municipalities, the county could still come out $75,000 ahead with a 4-cent decrease.
The current property tax rate is 62.25 cents per $100 valuation. The county’s sales tax rate is 7 percent, including the 4.75 percent state rate and the county’s voter-approved 0.25-cent sales tax for a new 911 center, radio telecommunications upgrades and satellite jail.
Commissioners would need to request a local bill in the General Assembly to raise the sales tax rate again.
Fire district change
In addition, on Monday the board plans to consider a citizen petition to transfer the Wellington Estates subdivision off Moose Road from Mount Mitchell Fire District to Bostian Heights Fire District.
More than two-thirds of homeowners in the subdivision signed the petition, according to a memo to Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason from Fire Division Chief Aaron Youngblood.
The president of the Bostian Heights Fire Department Board of Directors and the chairman of its fire tax commissioners have both signed letters of concurrence. But the Mount Mitchell Fire Department Board of Directors says it isn’t endorsing the transfer because the subdivision would be better served by remaining in its district.
Without support from Mount Mitchell, according to state statute, the county can’t relocate the fire district boundary lines.
Instead, the county could choose to do nothing, a new petition could be created asking commissioners to hold a special election, or a county service district could be created with new boundaries for each affected fire district. Youngblood recommmended the last option.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners plan to:
• Hold a public hearing for changes to the county’s zoning ordinance that would prohibit bars from being located within 1,000 feet of a church, public school, private school, licensed day care, public park or another drinking place.
This standard would not apply to non-conforming “drinking places” seeking to expand, but it would apply to those deemed abandoned or discontinued. The measure was recommended unanimously by the county planning board
• Hold a public hearing for a CDBG-ED Grant for CanAm Yarns, a subsidiary of Gildan Activewear Inc.
CanAm Yarns plans to invest more than $5.8 million in renovations to the former PGT building, located at 2121 Heilig Road, along with $44 million in new equipment. It expects to create 170 new jobs within 24 months, with total employment quickly growing to 200. Gildan has received investments from the county and the state for this project.
The company is now asking to partner with the county in order to apply for a $750,000 building reuse and restoration grant to help pay for its renovations. The grant would require a match of at least $750,000 from CanAm Yarns, and the company must create the number of jobs required in order to keep the full amount as awarded.
• Hold a public hearing for a rezoning and conditional use district of 8.05 acres of property, located at 360 N.C. Highway 801 in Woodleaf, from rural agricultural to industrial. The rezoning was requested by owner William Ratliff Jr. to accommodate a metal recycling center.
• Hold a public hearing for a rezoning of 182.67 acres of property from commercial, business and industrial to rural agricultural. Lanny Hale Corriher, who lives on Mellondale Lane in China Grove, requested the rezoning of 10 parcels belonging to him and six other family members, due to apparent difficulties in obtaining financing for residential uses within non-residential districts.
• Hear the Community Child Protection Team annual report for 2012.
• Authorize the Board of Elections to apply for a Title I Help America Vote Act funds grant of $8,685.94. The state would be reimbursing the county for the costs of election coding for the second primary and the general election in 2012.
• Purchase console furniture for the new 911 center from Evans Furniture for $300,000.
• Approve a cell tower lease at Young’s Mountain for a public safety radio upgrade. The county is working with American Towers to co-locate radio and microwave equipment on its tower there, in order to impove coverage on the west side of the county.
The lease will be for two years, with an option for a one-year renewal for up to six more years. The county will not be charged any monthly fee until all equipment is installed on the tower.
• Approve a proclamation honoring William “Pete” Kennedy with the “Legacy of a Leader.”
• Consider approval of budget amendments.
• Meet in closed session for a personnel matter and to approve minutes from a Dec. 3 closed session.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.