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China Grove approves new budget

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.com
CHINA GROVE ó One town employee will lose his job following the adoption of the town’s 2010 budget.
Aldermen approved the budget on a split vote Tuesday night.
Mayor Pro Temp Blair Lyseski voted against the budget adoption, stressing his opposition to eliminating a job. Lyseski said there should have been a way to do the budget without a job loss.
The Utilities Department will be cut from five employees to four.
Aldermen Ron Overcash, Butch Bivens and Allen Welter voted to approved the budget.
The budget retains the current tax rate of 38 cents per $100 valuation.
There are no cost of living increases or merit pay increases for employees.
It includes a 5.5 percent increase for sewer charges and a new $10 per month account fee to help pay debt service on water and sewer projects. The account fee on the 1,600 customers is expected to raise almost $200,000 in the coming year.
Town Manager Bill Pless commended department heads for submitting frugal lists instead of wish lists. Most categories of revenue decreased.
The town will buy a firetruck in the coming fiscal year from monies saved over the past six years. The truck has been ordered. The town will also buy one new police car in the coming year.
Pless warned that the 2011 budget could be worse if revenue doesn’t pickup.
Mayor Don Bringle, responding to public comments about water and sewer costs, said the town is looking at every possibility to find a way to cut utility rates.
Bringle said the cost is extreme, going on to say if Salisbury-Rowan Utilities takes over the China Grove system, customers in China Grove would pay 30 percent less. Bringle said the town can’t afford the utility system, asking, “How long do we stick out our chest and gloat (that we own our own system)?”
Welter took issue with the 30 percent figure, charging that it was a smokescreen. “They’ll never drop it.”
According to a chart prepared by the town, a customer using 3,000 gallons monthly will pay $62.50. A customer using 5,000 gallons will pay $97.50.
Aldermen unanimously adopted the fee schedule and the updated capital improvement plan for 2010-2014.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.

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