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Rockwell lays out plans for annexation

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
ROCKWELL ó After discussing it for several years, town leaders appear poised to go forward with annexation plans.
The town is exploring the feasibility of annexing an area along Main Street, extending westward from the town’s corporate limits to Nazareth Home Road.
According to an annexation report dated March 10, the area has an estimated population of 532 people, which would result in a population increase of 26.4 percent in Rockwell.
The report shows Rockwell’s population, based on the 2006 N.C. Demographics Municipal Estimates, as 2,015 people.
Mayor Beau Taylor acknowledges the timing of the proposed annexation might be less than ideal, with the city of Salisbury announcing plans to annex areas along N.C. 150 and Rowan County officials vowing to join residents in a legal fight against the action.
“It’s almost like it’s falling at the wrong time. But if we back off we’ll put it off for another year,” Taylor said. He’s well aware of the opposition Rockwell could face, he said, “but how else are we going to grow?”
Centralina Council of Governments is handling the annexation for the town. Centralina is also managing Salisbury’s planned annexation.
The annexation report says the town’s objectives are to:
– Survey the proposed areas to determine if they meet the statutory standards for annexation.
– Analyze the proposed area from a cost-revenue standpoint.
– Provide the town with necessary information.
There are some cost increases the town will have to weigh in its decision to annex.
Rockwell has five full-time and five part-time police officers. The report quotes town officials as saying there will be no need to hire any additional officers or buy any new vehicles if the annexation plan is approved. There are seven patrol vehicles.
There are 10.76 miles of streets currently being patrolled in Rockwell. The proposed annexation area will increase this by 4.95 miles, the report said.
The cost of vehicle maintenance and gasoline is expected to increase by $6,901 annually.
Fire protection in the proposed annexation area is currently provided by the Rockwell Rural Fire Department. If the proposed annexation occurs, the area will be served by the Rockwell City Fire Department.
The town would have to pay the rural fire department $19,704 for five years to cover the fire tax revenue that would be lost. Currently, properties in the annexation area are assessed at 6 cents per $100 of property value for fire service.
Taylor said that would be the biggest annexation-related cost to the town.
The town also foresees the need to hire an additional part-time firefighter at the added annual cost of $10,800.
The annual cost to the town for 65 new streetlights will be $6,011, while solid waste collection costs would increase by $22,442.
According to the report, no additional administrative staff will be needed. Costs for some services, including postage, advertisements and office supplies are expected to increase by $6,894.
The total additional cost if the annexation is approved is $70,784.
The town will not take over maintenance of any streets as a result of annexation and will not incur any added cost in that area.
Since the city of Salisbury provides water and sewer services within the town, there will be no cost for extension of these services.
Rowan County provides animal control services and there will be no increase in related costs to the town.
Officials don’t anticipate a need for additional park facilities and so there will be no increase as a result of this annexation.
Taylor said town officials are not looking at a tax increase.
“We would like to keep the tax rate low,” he said.
The town’s property tax revenues are expected to increase by $82,099 as a result of the annexation.
The increase in franchise tax reimbursements is estimated to be $23,672, while the town anticipates receiving an additional $12,688 in Powell Bill funds.
The local option sales tax is estimated to bring in $46,108. Bringing in 532 additional people means the cable television franchise tax would deliver $4,488 to the town.
A likely result of the annexation is a $1,875 increase in beer and wine sales tax distributions.
The town receives ad valorem revenues from automobiles that are registered at addresses within the town. An additional $8,449 in revenue is anticipated.
The total annual tax revenue the town expects is $179,379.
The town anticipates bringing in $108,595, if it annexes.
“This would help Rockwell,” Taylor said.
He added that the annexation would put the town in a better position to recruit more businesses, specifically restaurants and other commercial businesses.
“If we don’t grow, we cant get these things,” he said.
Taylor said it would be good if Rockwell residents didn’t have to drive any further than they already do for certain services.
He’s already gotten a few phone calls from residents who are opposed to the annexation.
“We expect opposition,” he said. “Some people have said they don’t mind it and others have said they aren’t going to like it.”
He said he’ll support whatever the Board of Aldermen decide.
A public information meeting set for April 10 and a public hearing April 28 at town hall.
Taylor encourages all who want to know more about the potential annexation to attend these meetings.
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Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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