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Minor changes to proposed Kannapolis budget

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Kannapolis City Council members weighed in Monday on the cityís proposed fiscal year 2011-12 budget.
City Manager Mike Legg presented the $45 million budget plan three weeks ago.
The proposed budget restructures how the city spends its money, cuts out non-recurring sources of funding and adds a special rainy-day fund for contingencies.
ěOur economic outlook continues to be a little bit of a roller coaster ride,î Legg told council members Monday.
Since the initial budget workshop on May 23, some minor changes have been made.
The city negotiated a new agreement with Cabarrus County for tax collection services.
Instead of hiring staff and collecting taxes themselves, Kannapolis will continue to contract with the county.
The new contract will save the city about $144,560 per year, Legg said, eliminating what benefits there were of taking over the service themselves.
With that savings, the amount set aside for the cityís contingency fund has been increased to $279,743 ó an increase of about $86,000.
This fund is made up of money that might normally go into the cityís fund balance, the savings Kannapolis must keep on hand.
This budget year, the fund balance will top 15 percent of the cityís revenues.
The N.C. Local Government Commission suggests cities of Kannapolisí size maintain a fund balance equal to 20 percent of revenues.
With this fund as a separate budget item, council members have the option to pay as they go for new projects or deal with emergencies that may arise.
As sales tax and property tax revenues continue to drop due to the recession, Legg said that the water and sewer fund will be tapped as an interim measure until property tax revenues rebound.
Council members also took time to discuss some parts of the budget proposal that hadnít changed.
One of the biggest changes would be to make Wally Safrit the cityís full-time attorney.
In recent years, Safrit has worked as the cityís legal counsel while still working in private practice.
Legg said the city would benefit from bringing Safrit on board because of his knowledge and expertise.
The cost of adding a full-time city attorney and a full-time staff position for an administrative assistant would be $192,890.
Right now, the city spends about $150,000 per year on legal services.
Council members also discussed how best to increase staff at the cityís Customer Service Center, located at 234 Dale Earnhardt Blvd.
The budget proposal called for changing a part-time customer service position to full-time, and changing the Customer Service Manager job to Director of Customer Service and Revenue Collection.
The total cost of those two changes would be $21,511.
The rationale for the change includes a plan to move the cityís business licensing operations there from of City Hall.
ěThe Customer Service Center is our face for the entire city. It is where we interact with a significant portion of our citizens each day,î Legg said.
For that reason, he said, itís important to keep it well-staffed.
Council members expressed concern about those new positions.
Mayor Pro Tem Gene McCombs suggested that the city should think carefully about how many new jobs to add at once, especially when considering bringing Safrit on board this year.
McCombs suggested phasing in the Customer Service Center jobs over several years.
No citizens spoke at the public hearing. No further action was taken.
A vote on the budget is scheduled for the June 27 council meeting.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editorís desk at 704-797-4244.

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