City Council to hear budget requests from EDC, community groups

SALISBURY — Budget work begins in earnest Tuesday for Salisbury City Council, when several organizations present their funding requests for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

City Council will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, 217 S. Main St.

Dubbed “special community organizations,” groups like Communities in Schools and Crosby Scholars will submit their requests. These organizations also include Horizons Unlimited, Rowan Arts Council, Rowan Museum, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center and the N.C. Transportation Museum.

RowanWorks Economic Development Commission will ask Salisbury for $78,472 to help lure jobs and investment in the coming year. The request is about $5,300 more than the city awarded the EDC this year.

The EDC is asking for more money from all local governments, including $13,200 more from the Rowan County commissioners — $344,615, up from the current funding level of $331,403.

“As you may recall, in 2011, due to the recession, we made across-the-board cuts to our funding requests,” EDC Executive Director Robert Van Geons said in a memo to City Council. “Since then, the EDC has asked each of our funding partners to slowly return (over five years) to the funding formula adopted in 2004.

“As a primary funder of our organization, we are especially grateful that the city has supported this effort.”

Despite eliminating the EDC’s unrestricted fund balance, the proposed budget maintains and diversifies the group’s core services, Van Geons said. RowanWorks has continued to partner with new and existing companies to generate new job creation and increased tax revenue, he said.

Recent projects announced and under construction within Salisbury include:

• Shat R Shield

• The Driveshaft Shop

• Advanced Machining

• Club Red

• Tool Rental Depot

• Trelleborg Automotive

• Freshouse Foods Including these projects, more than $132 million in new investment and 250 jobs were announced county-wide during the past fiscal year, Van Geons said.

The EDC is working more closely with the Salisbury-Rowan Conventions & Visitors Bureau, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Downtown Salisbury Inc. and the Rowan Chamber of Commerce.

“I believe that we have found innovative ways to mutually support each other, increasing our outreach efforts while minimizing costs,” Van Geons said.

RowanWorks also has a new employee dedicated full-time to the external promotion of the community, which includes recruiting new retail, service and hospitality businesses. The EDC is working with seven national and independent retail or restaurant operations that are exploring locations in Salisbury, Van Geons said.

When compared with other economic development commissions in the region, RowanWorks operates with the smallest total budget and second lowest per capita funding average, Van Geons said.

“Despite this, with an aggressive plan of work, active board members and your support, we believe that we can accomplish even more in the coming year,” he said.

Projects worked by the EDC currently employ more than 6,500 people and will provide more than $7 million in tax revenue to the city, county, fire districts and municipalities this year, he said.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

• Council members are scheduled to meet Salisbury High School Principal Luke Brown, who began serving Jan. 21.

• On the consent agenda, City council will consider a budget ordinance amendment to appropriate $34,694 in Police Department asset forfeiture funds.

According to Police Chief Rory Collins, the money will be used to pay for meth lab certification training for two, an up-to-date undercover radio system, binoculars, camcorders, special holsters for the SRT team and computer equipment for the new expeditor program. The money also would cover the cost of installing hardware for the Police Department building access that would be connected to the Rowan County Communication Center.

Collins said the connection will be necessary when the city’s telecommunicators are moved to the new center and the Police Department will be unmanned after regular business hours. The new technology would allow video and audio from the front lobby and provide door entrance capabilities.

• Mayor Paul Woodson will proclaim April 13 as Arbor Day.

• Council members will consider approving the installation of a four-piece sculpture at Exit 76 on Interstate 85, part of the 2014 Salisbury Sculpture Show, which is funded by grants, donations and the part of the proceeds from the sale of previous show entries.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has approved the sculpture, which would include four installations on East Innes Street at the interstate on and off ramps, but requires a resolution of support from City Council.

• City Council will consider approving the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget for CDBG and HOME program funds.

Last year, Salisbury received about $430,000 in federal funding. This year, funding has been cut by 10 percent, down to $390,400.

• Council members will consider a request for a temporary use approval, with conditions, for a carnival to operate at the J.C. Price Legion Post, 1433 Old Wilkesboro Road, for its annual Memorial Week Celebration.

• Staff will provide a 5-minute presentation and public outreach effort to showcase four of the most likely growth patterns seen for the region, as determined by the Centralina Council of Governments “CONNECT our Future” regional planning effort.

Salisbury is partnering in the regional planning exercise. Coordinated by the Centralina Council of Governments, citizens, governments and businesses across the 14-county region have provided input into possible land-use and growth patterns over the next, 40-year period.

• City Manager Doug Paris’ comments are scheduled to include an update on the West End.

• Council members are scheduled to go into closed session to consult an attorney and to consider buying the former Grimes Mill property, which is for sale by the Historic Salisbury Foundation.

Contact Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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