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Spencer town manager hopes to keep property tax at current rate

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SPENCER — The Spencer town manager said he thinks he can hold the property tax rate at the current 62.8 cents if town services stay about the same for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Manager Larry Smith also said the town would not save money by eliminating the Land Management Services position and contracting with Rowan County.
The Spencer town board in April asked both Rowan and Salisbury how much it would cost if they took over land management services for the town.
Dustin Wilson is the Spencer land management director. If the town contracted with another organization, Wilson would lose his job, and the town would save $51,583 — his salary and benefits.
Salisbury declined to provide a quote, saying the city would need additional manpower to meet Spencer’s expectations and praising Wilson.
“We are definitely open to partnering with Spencer on services, but you have a good setup and operation down there, not to mention an outstanding employee in that role,” City Manager Doug Paris wrote in a letter to Smith.
Rowan County provided estimates but concluded if the county administered land management for Spencer, the contract would be based on an hourly rate of $50, more than the town pays now.
By comparison, the town’s current land management budget equals $38.26 per hour.
“In fairness to the town, I am not certain this department can satisfy the expectations of the town without providing a full-time employee devoted to administering the land management program,” County Planner Ed Muire wrote to Smith.
While grateful to be considered, the county’s Planning and Development Department cannot accommodate Spencer, Muire said.
Alderman Jeff Morris, a proponent of contracting the services, said he wants elected officials to review the requests sent to Rowan and Salisbury “and see if we could come to greater consensus and perhaps re-submit it, to get alternate bids in hand, before the final budget hearing.”
Last year, the town cut 3.5 positions to balance the budget, including the full-time code enforcement officer. Mayor Pro Tem Jim Gobbel has said he is willing to raise the tax rate to restore the code enforcement position.
The Spencer Board of Aldermen will hold a budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.
The public hearing on the budget is set for 7 p.m. June 12 in Town Hall.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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