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China Grove to hike taxes by two cents

China Grove council members came within one vote of doubling a tax increase Tuesday at their third discussion on the town’s proposed budget.
Council members Lee Withers and Mike Upright voted for increasing the town’s already proposed two-cent tax increase to four cents in order to pay for renovations at the China Grove Community Center.
Their vote missed the majority by one hand on the five-member council.
The town already had planned on a two-cent tax increase, based on an estimated tax base of $280.5 million with a 96 percent collection rate.
According to town officials, one cent would equal approximately $27,200.
“This budget is going to be a little tighter than in years past. We’ve had a lot of fluff in years past,” Withers said. “We are the fourth down the line when it comes to tax rates in the county even though China Grove is one of the only municipalities that has a true tax rate. We have no fees. We don’t have a trash fee, meter fee or anything.”
The town also is bringing over approximately $119,000 from its cash reserves to bring the town’s estimated fund balance to approximately 58 percent to 60 percent.
China Grove Mayor Don Bringle said the town is a “true, 100 percent tax base.”
“This is our third meeting, and these (additional) two cents came out of nowhere tonight. At the same time, the budget is extremely tight,” Bringle said. “We’re adding some fire protection. The main reason is that it is harder to get volunteers.”
The town is looking at adding a police lieutenant position at the cost of $23,000, plus benefits, in addition to three engineers in the town’s fire department with a price tag of $81,000 plus benefits and turn out gear.
The public hearing for China Grove’s proposed budget will be held at 6 p.m. June 17.

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