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Kann. approves budget, tax hike

KANNAPOLIS — With little fanfare, Kannapolis City Council on Monday evening approved its 2015 budget totaling $53,905,757. The tax rate increases from .56 cents to .60 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation.
The increase will be used to fund a new municipal and police building, as well as pay for 16 firefighter position which are no longer funded through a federal grant.
The ordinance to approve the budget passed 6-1, with Councilman Tom Kincaid casting the dissenting vote.
Kincaid, the owner and administrator of Caremoor Retirement Center, said he was especially worried about the tax increase’s effects on older citizens.
“We’re growing, but we’re not back yet,” he said of the city. “I have struggled hard about this budget. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to take food out of people’s mouths.”
Before the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas and Councilman Ryan Dayvault both spoke in favor of the budget.
Dayvault said he believed the tax increase was warranted.
“A new City Hall and police department is something this city has needed for 30 years,” he said. “If everybody is under one roof, it will sure make things more efficient.”
Councilman Darrell Jackson asked when an interest rate would be secured for the project, and Eric Davis, finance director, said the rate would be locked in next month. City Manager Mike Legg said a number of items regarding financing and construction for the project would come before council in July.
Following the budget vote, Davis walked council members through the fee schedule increases for 2015.
In addition to the property tax increase, the base water connection fee increases from $1,200 to $1,350; the base sewer connection fee from $650 to $800; stormwater fees increase 8.3 percent for each tier — tier 1 from $3.60 to $3.90, tier 2 from $4.80 to $5.20, tier 3 from $6 to $6.50 and environmental fees to $6.85 to $9.35.
Council approved the fee schedule unanimously, as well as the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, which stretches from 2015 to 2022.
“Our hope is to look at this plan on a regular basis,” Davis noted.
In other business, council sped through a series of board appointments and reappointments, approving each unanimously. These included:
• The reappointment of James Litaker and the appointment of William Cranford to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
• The appointment of Thomas Van Etten and the reappointments of Andrew Baker and Jonathan Farmer to the Board of Adjustment. Scott Wilson will serve as alternate.
• The recommendation to reappoint Leonard Beaver to the Rowan County Planning and Zoning Commission as an extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) representative.
• The appointment of Addul Rahman El Ali to the Community Development Commission.
• The reappointment of Jimmy Carter and the appointments of Pam Scaggs and Kevin May Jr. to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
Additionally, Mayor Darrell Hinnant and Councilman Doug Wilson recognized Helen Beaver as volunteer of the month. Beaver was clearly surprised as more than three dozen friends and family members — nearly the whole audience — came to cheer her on.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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