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Commissioners to reconsider school system funding Monday

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
County commissioners could decide Monday to withhold their budgeted increase of $690,000 to Rowan-Salisbury Schools this year.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will reconsider the systemís funding at 3 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Rowan County Administration Building.
Commissioner Jim Sides asked that the item be placed on the agenda in light of the $900,000 in education lottery funds withheld by the state. The county had budgeted the money to go toward debt service for school bonds, which must be paid.
ěThatís $700,000 we donít have next year,î Sides said. ěWeíre going to be facing a major problem with our budget this year to the tune of a $3 million or $4 millionî shortfall.
The schools recently received some money that was not anticipated, he said ó $4.2 million in federal Education Jobs Bill funds.
ěI donít think it would hurt them as bad as itís going to hurt us if we donít take it back,î Sides said.
He said if the board votes now to rescind the money, the schools wonít suffer the loss all at once. A fraction will be deducted from the countyís payments to the schools each month for six months.
ěEven with that, weíll have to come up with a couple hundred thousand to pay debt service,î Sides said.
Chairman Chad Mitchell said he is open to listening to what Sides has to say, but his personal opinion hasnít changed since he moved to allocate $690,000 in June.
ěWe added those additional dollars so positions we paid for would stay constant,î he said, adding that state-funded positions come with mandated increases in benefits.
Commissioner Carl Ford did not vote in favor of the allocation this summer, and he said Thursday he can see both sides of the issue.
ěEverybody needs more money, but the county needs it, too,î Ford said.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain said he had not looked into the matter enough to give an opinion Thursday, but he remains ěin total support of the school system.î
In an earlier December interview, Commissioner Jon Barber said he is concerned about withholding money from the school system at a time when it is already making deep cuts.
ěThe question is, what does that mean to the schools?î Barber said. ěThatís even more layoffs.î
Barber and Coltrain both voted to allocate the $690,000 during the budget process.
Also at Mondayís meeting, commissioners plan to:
Consider a rezoning to commercial, business, industrial (CBBI) for 31.72 acres used for the Webb Road Flea Market before it burned in September.
According to the request, the flea market owners could rebuild in the same footprint without being subject to new zoning standards. They chose to move forward with a new site layout, though, so the rezoning is necessary for future development.
Consider a list of topics to discuss at this monthís planning work session.
Name the boardís voting delegate to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Legislative Goals Conference.
Recognize the West Rowan High School and Salisbury High School varsity football teams as the 3A State Champions and 2AA State Champions.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

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