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Rowan commissioners to talk budget

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
County commissioners voted Monday to focus mainly on the 2011-12 budget at their upcoming planning work session.
They will then use any time left in the session, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the commissioners’ meeting room, to talk about other topics they have submitted.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners changed the date and time of the session from Jan. 21 to Feb. 3 because of scheduling conflicts.
“I think our major focus has to be the budget,” Commissioner Jim Sides said on Monday. “It is critical that we provide information to our manager and staff and hear from them regarding where they feel we’re going to be on the budget.”
Sides said he thinks some of the other topics are important and has no problem with discussing them at future meetings
Chairman Chad Mitchell and Vice Chairman Carl Ford agreed, pointing out that some other items — such as maintaining and recruiting jobs and decreasing operational expenses — could be brought up in the context of the budget.
Other topics submitted by commissioners for discussion include:
• Requiring new county employees to pay a portion of their health insurance.
• Developing a growth development plan for areas east of Interstate 85.
• Capturing and selling methane gas produced by the landfill.
• Finding ways to help the tax office collect more delinquent taxes.
• Relocating the 911 call center.
• Creating a legislative liaison for Raleigh.
• Consolidating and merging government functions with municipalities, creating “a political blend of city and county governments to reduce expenses.”
• Appointing a committee to report on increasing the size of the Board of Commissioners from five members to seven.
• Establishing a tax rate for the rescue squad.
• Using a land management firm to dispose of government-owned properties.
• Implementing employee recognition programs and enhancing employee retention.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain was the sole dissenting vote in the decision about the planning work session, saying he wanted to take some time to brainstorm about the other items.
“We will have more budget discussions later in the year when we know the position of the fiscal year more clearly,” Coltrain said.
Commissioner Jon Barber also said he wanted to have “serious discussions” about the other issues, but he agreed that the primary focus of the session should be the budget.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
In other business
At Monday’s meeting, Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Approved an increase of $19,800?in Summit Developers’ $4.5 million?bid for the satellite jail annex.
County Manager Gary Page said the Mecklenburg County plumbing subcontractor the company was going to use had “qualification issues.”?Summit has found a local subcontractor that is qualified to do the work but requires an increase in price, Page said.
• Named Jim Sides as the board’s voting delegate to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Legislative Goals Conference. They also approved an addition by Sides to a list of the county’s goals.
• Awarded a service sidearm to retiring first sergeant Jeff McCorkle.
• Approved a request from the Rowan Public Library to apply for six N.C. Humanities Council Road Scholars Program grants.
• Recognized the West Rowan High School and Salisbury High School varsity football teams as the 3A State Champions and 2AA State Champions, respectively.

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