County manager: No new taxes needed to balance budget

  • Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:04 a.m.

SALISBURY — County Manager Gary Page said the county can balance next year’s budget without levying new taxes.

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In other action

SALISBURY — Also at Monday’s meeting, Rowan County Commissioners:

•Heard a proposal by Commissioner Mike Caskey that commissioners create a 25-member Economic Development Taskforce that would meet from July to December and would report to the commission on the “policies and procedures” of competing counties. The agenda item was added Monday night and commissioners said they would revisit the issue at a future meeting.

• Chairman Jim Sides recused himself from the commission for a brief period as commissioners voted unanimously to rezone he and his mother Phyllis Sides’ property on Henkle Craig Farm Road. Some of the property had once been designated as a manufactured home park zoning but has not served in that capacity for several years. The property was rezoned to rural agricultural.

• Voted unanimously to approve the rezoning of property in the 15000-block of U.S. 52 to commercial, business, industrial for the purpose of creating an auto sales business.

Page gave commissioners his 2013-2014 proposed budget at a meeting Monday night and county leaders scheduled a public hearing for comment on the proposal June 3 at 3 p.m.

The proposed general fund budget is $129,093,690 — $471,127 more than last year’s and does not include a planned .50 cent tax increase for debt associated with a $12 million bond referendum in 2010.

“Our revenues have stabilized this past year, with small increases expected for both property and sales tax,” Page wrote in his budget message to commissioners. “Sales taxes are expected to grow 1.8 percent or $300,000. With a .5 percent growth in the tax base and a 95.75 percent collection rate, property tax revenue is expected to grow approximately $417,000. New revenue available to balance the 2013-2014 budget is approximately $1 million, but is offset by a corresponding decrease in federal and state funding.”

But the budget is also prepared to cut funding to Rowan-Salisbury Schools, citing drops in average daily student attendance.

“Rowan County enrollment is estimated to decrease by 123 students,” Page wrote in the report. “The Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ current expense funding will be reduced by $225,390, for a total appropriation of $31,564,054.”

But Kannapolis schools could see a $19,047 boost, resulting in about $2 million budget for current expenses, if the proposed budget passes. Kannapolis City schools are projected to see a slight increase in students for next year.

Chairman Jim Sides presented former longtime Department of Social Services Director Edwin Koontz with a lifetime achievement award issued by the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services.

“I was extremely pleased and surprised,” Koontz told a packed commissioners’ chambers Monday night.

Koontz said he was asked to travel to New Bern for the formal presentation, but said he thought the trip too long.

Sides, a former county employee who worked in some capacity with Koontz in the late ‘70s, handed Koontz the award.

“I appreciate the events of the evening,” Koontz said. “I have enjoyed my work but I’m also enjoying my retirement.”

Commissioner Jon Barber recognized four students of Rowan-Salisbury schools and their teachers who helped the children win a North Carolina Farm to Food program artwork contest during the past two years.

County leaders applauded Marissa Blackwell, a fifth-grader at Ethan H. Shive Elementary, teacher Amy Parsons and Logan Willbanks, a first-grader at Millbridge Elementary and teacher Kimberly Nance for their success in the 2012-2013 program.

Commissioners also recognized Heaven Thornton, a 5th grader at Landis Elementary again with Kimberly Nance; and Ashton Brown, a first-grader at Rockwell Elementary and teacher Amy Parsons for this year’s artwork success.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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