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Rowan Airport de-annexation up for House vote today

Owners of jets and planes at the Rowan County Airport got a step closer to a lower property tax bill Tuesday.
Sen. Andrew Brock’s bill to remove the Rowan County Airport from Salisbury city limits, Senate Bill 269, was voted favorably out of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. It’s on the calendar for a second floor vote today and a third and final vote on Thursday.
The Senate has already approved the bill.
Rep. Harry Warren, R-Salisbury and a member of the Finance Committee, said the de-annexation measure passed a voice vote overwhelmingly. The only vote against the measure came from Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham. Luebke asked what the city’s position was on the local bill. Warren told him Salisbury opposed the action, and Luebke voted no.
No one from the city or county addressed the committee Tuesday, Warren said, other than Rep. Carl Ford’s brief explanation of the bill.
Warren said he expected the bill to clear the House. Representatives on both sides of the aisle believe it is better for the airport to have only one taxing entity, he said.
Ford, R-China Grove and a former Rowan County commissioner, filed a bill March 7 to remove the airport from the city limits. Ford and county leaders said having to pay city and county taxes was discouraging jet and plane owners from keeping their aircraft at Rowan and preventing the county from attracting more corporate jets and the firms that use them.
Brock, R-Mocksville, filed a similar bill in the Senate.
The city annexed part of the airport in 2004 without the county’s consent. Tim Russell, then county manager, filed papers requesting the extension of city water and sewer lines to the airport area. The city spent several million dollars extending the lines.
Last fall, County Manager Gary Page asked for the city’s help in running a water line to a new hangar at the airport. The city agreed. But it has had no role in operating the airport, which the county owns.
The city and county now each levy a 40-cent tax rate at the airport, bringing in about $86,000 each. With the city out of the picture, the county plans to charge airplane owners its full rate of 62 cents per $100 valuation — 18 cents less than the combined rate of 80 cents.
Commissioners want to extend the 5,500-foot runway at the airport to make it more competitive with surrounding municipal airports. Rowan Airport hosts about 90 planes with a property tax value of $21 million.

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