Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
CHINA GROVE — The town of China Grove thought it would have solved its issues with the U.S. Census by now so it could begin budget proceedings, but it may have to move ahead without $100,000 in expected revenue.
In July, the town of China Grove challenged the 2010 Census saying the count left out 800 or more people from the population.
A decrease in the town’s population means a decrease in the town’s share of sales tax revenue.
Interim Town Manager Ken Deal told the board during Tuesday’s budget session that he thought the matter would’ve been straightened out by now.
The board was aware of the ardous process, which the town has been in the midst of for nearly a year.
The town is still in step four of a six-step process, which it was in a few months ago. The board discussed the possibility of not being able to count on this revenue at its February planning retreat.
“We thought it would be a simple process,” Deal said.
The board hopes it can finish the 2012-13 budget with that revenue included.
Deal said he met with department heads and informed them to put their requests in the budget and then cuts and adjustments would be made later.
No final decisions were made about the budget during Tuesday’s meeting.
The board went through the budget looking at various line items to determine if cuts could be made.
Councilman Steve Stroud expressed his aversion to raising taxes.
Finance Director Mary Jo Bopp projected how much revenue the town would generate if it increased taxes by 1 cent.
The current tax rate is 47 cents on an estimated tax base of $273,500,000 with a 97 percent collection rate.
If the tax rate increased to 48 cents it would bring in $26,448.93.
The board also does not foresee employee salary increases, but could consider giving non-law enforcement employees a 1 percent increase in 401K contributions. Law enforcement receive 5 percent contributions to 401K, while non-law enforcement receive 3 percent.
The board discussed adding a Farmer’s Day budget.
The town is taking over the planning of the annual event.
Bopp also questioned what will happen to the profits made from the event.
There was some ideas mentioned but no decisions made.
The board suggested some of the money be given to the China Grove Board of Trade since historically they’ve co-sponsored the event with the town.
Town Clerk Amanda Eller suggested some of the money go back into the account to be used for the following year, which the board seemed agreeable to do.
The board’s next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. April 30, town hall, 308 E. Centerview St.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.