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No property tax increase in proposed China Grove budget

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE ó The town’s water and sewer rates would rise a bit, but its property tax rate would remain at 38 cents per $100 of value under the proposed 2008-2009 budget.
The Board of Aldermen met Tuesday evening to look at a final draft of the budget and set a public hearing for its June 3 meeting. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.
The board agreed to increase the town’s rates $1.80 per 1,000 gallons for water and sewer. Town Manager Bill Pless cited larger-than-anticipated increases from Salisbury-Rowan Utilities as a key factor in the rate increase.
Currently, the town charges $7.60 per 1,000 gallons for water and sewer, a combined cost of $15.20.
Under the new rates, which will take effect July 1 if adopted, the water rate would go to $8 per 1,000 gallons, with sewer rate at $9. The combined total of $17 would be an increase of $1.80.
The board had previously considered a smaller increase, but after the city of Salisbury announced the higher rate, the figures were adjusted.
Pless said that 90 percent of the town’s water and sewer revenue goes to pay debt service or pay Salisbury for water and sewer services.
He also left the door open for additional changes in the rates, depending on the final rate Salisbury announces later this month.
Mayor Don Bringle said that in a meeting last week, Salisbury officials left the door open to possibly lowering the minimum daily purchase of water from Salisbury. Currently, China Grove is required to pay for 300,000 gallons daily, while the average usage is around 250,000.
Salisbury officials indicated some willingness to drop the minimum to 250,000 gallons daily if the town would agree to a contract extension. Bringle said Salisbury expects to respond to China Grove’s inquiries in the next 30 days.
In other matters, the board looked briefly at some changes in the town’s fee schedule.
The board agreed with a recommendation from Pless to require a $100 deposit when a resident gets a town truck overnight or over a weekend to load with debris that will then be hauled off by the town.
Pless said deposit will ensure that the town doesn’t get stuck with hazardous materials or other substances that the county landfill won’t take. Residents can still get the truck free of charge once each year.
The board opted to wait until the June 3 meeting or later to adopt the full fee schedule, including proposed increases in tap fees for water and sewer service.
Currently, the town charges $900 for a water tap and $800 for a sewer tap. Pless presented fees from adjacent towns that range upward of $4,000 for the combined taps.
He proposed increasing China Grove’s fees to $1,250 each, or $2500 for both.
Alderman Allen Welter pushed for the fees to be increased more, closer to the $4,000 charged by Landis.
Welter said now is the best time, since building has slowed to a crawl.
Others, including Alderman Lee Withers and Mayor Pro Tem Blair Lyseski, argued the town would be pricing itself out of development.
They pointed out that Landis doesn’t have an Adequate Public Facilities Fee, which adds $1,700 for each lot.
The board left the issue unresolved and may revisit it at the June 3 meeting.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@ salisburypost.com.

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