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Kannapolis OKs budget

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó With minor discussion and a few misgivings, but no changes, City Council members approved the 2010 budget at Monday night’s meeting.
The city’s property tax rate remains the same ó 49 cents per $100 value ó and the city’s storm water fees are unchanged.
But one council member, Richard Anderson, expressed his dissatisfaction.
Anderson said that, while he approved of the job City Manager Mike Legg and staff had done, he felt there had not been enough discussion of the $44.8 million budget.
“We have rubber stamped, really, the last two years, without discussions of the budget by department or line-item by line-item,” Anderson said.
He also questioned some expenditures that remained after millions of dollars in cuts.
“How much money are we giving to the Economic Development Corporation?” Anderson asked.
Legg responded that $40,000 was allocated in the new budget for the Cabarrus EDC.
Anderson said he felt the city’s current marketing budget and a contract with a federal consulting firm for lobbying efforts were sufficient, in addition to David Murdock’s vocal support of the city.
“That would pay for another policeman, another fireman ó a lot of necessities that this money could be spent on,” Anderson said.
Mayor Robert Misenheimer said the budget process had been difficult.
“To be perfectly fair, there are things probably all of us would disagree with,” he said.
Misenheimer defended the EDC spending because it created jobs. “I think this would be the last place that I would want to see any reduction,” he said.
Legg said the budget process had been difficult, especially finding ways to cut costs without cutting jobs.
Six open positions are being frozen and there will be no pay increases for city employees this year.
Councilman Roger Haas praised Legg, Assistant City Manager Eddie Smith and others involved.
“If you have a good city manager, the blood’s on the floor before it ever comes to us,” Haas said.
“It appears to me that there were sacrifices that were shared by everyone in this budget,” he said, adding that pay increases voted in last year made it easier for him to approve this budget.
In the end, the budget passed on a 6-1 vote, with Anderson opposing the budget.
In other business:
– Members voted 5-2 to approve a development plan and establish vested rights for five years for a proposed mixed-use project off N.C. 3.
Piedmont Concord Lake LLC is developing the 50-acre parcel for townhomes, apartments and mixed retail.
But since 2007, delays have held up approval of plans, beginning when residents of a nearby neighborhood complained that proposed street connections would increase congestion in their subdivision.
The new proposal includes more residential than retail components, but plans are not final.
The developer asked the city for approval of its new plan and a five-year vestment of rights, which essentially means that any changes in zoning laws won’t affect the plan.
“They have requested to vest the site plan so that they can stay back and wait for the market to clear,” Assistant Planning Director Ben Warren said.
Council members Ken Geathers and Darrell Hinnant opposed the plan, saying too much was still subject to change on the site plan.
– The council approved an agreement with Cabarrus County to provide tax district fire service for fiscal year 2010.

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