Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLIS ó Kannapolis residents would see their property tax rates stay the same under a proposed 2007-2008 budget unveiled by City Manager Mike Legg this week.
Under the proposed budget, the rate would remain at 49.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. In his summary letter to the Kannapolis City Council, Legg said that growth in sales tax revenue and property tax revenue will continue as growth reaches the city.
“Few cities have had to deal with as much change, both positive and negative, as we have had to address,” Legg said in his budget summary.
The proposed $41.7 million budget also adds 10 new full-time jobs ó including three new police officer positions ó and includes funds to replace aging city equipment and vehicles.Legg said the $3.9 million increase over last year’s budget is largely due to debt service payments, the $1.5 million stormwater program and $500,000 in new street paving.
“The stormwater program is the biggest change,” Legg said Wednesday. The federally-mandated program to eliminate pollutants from stormwater flowing into drinking water supplies is being funded with user fees paid by residents.
The city has also been hit by a problem that has plagued the entire United States: $47,000 of the increase over last year’s budget was due to oil and gasoline usage.
Despite the challenges, Mayor Bob Misenheimer said he was pleased with the budget and the process so far.
“The biggest challenge is that Kannapolis is a really young city and we have a lot of needs,” he said.
He praised the addition of three new police officers. “Those will be the first new officers we’ve hired in a decade,” Misenheimer said.
Five Water and Sewer Department employees are among the other new positions, including a full-time water quality technician.
Other costs in the upcoming year’s budget include replacement of a 20-year-old fire engine and other vehicles, as well as the acquisition of cruisers for the three new police officers.
Mike Legg expressed pleasure with the budget, adding that city staff had done good work under stress.
“This year, unlike past years, we were dealing with the North Carolina Research Campus” and proposed tax-increment financing, Legg said. “That has really stretched our abilities.”
Some of the expenses in this year’s budget could be reimbursed from those funds if Cabarrus County approves the plan, Misenheimer said.
The city will discuss the budget on June 2 at 2 p.m. at the Kannapolis Train Station.