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Granite Quarry in good financial shape

GRANITE QUARRY — The town of Granite Quarry has received a clean financial bill of health, but auditor Eddie Carrick left the Board of Aldermen with this advice.

“Stay conservative,” he said.

Carrick has completed the 2013-2014 audit and reported Monday night Granite Quarry “is in a pretty good position for a small town.”

“You had a good year,” he said. “… There are a lot of small towns hurting right now.”

In advising the town to remain conservative, Carrick, whose accounting office is in Lexington, said aldermen should not let expenditures rule their budget. Rather, conservatively calculate revenues first to know what the town can afford to spend, Carrick said.

Carrick reminded the board that a cent on Granite Quarry’s ad valorem tax rate is equal to $21,064 in revenue.

“I think it’s a very good piece of information,” he said, especially whenever the board considers new expenses.

The town’s available fund balance of 66 percent of its annual expenses is “right at the state average for this size town,” Carrick said.

Granite Quarry’s 97.5 percent collection rate on ad valorem taxes also is at the state average for its population, he said.

Aldermen also heard a presentation Monday from Jason Wager, planning program supervisor for the Centralina Council of Governments. The town is a member of COG, a planning agency covering a nine-county area.

COG has initiated an effort for the region to devise a long-term water management strategy, and Wager was seeking the town’s input on what concerns Granite Quarry might have in regard to future water quality and quantity.

Alderman Mike Brinkley said interbasin transfers of water will be the big issue. For one, the Catawba River Basin doesn’t have enough water and the Yadkin River Basin does, Brinkley said.

It’s inevitable, Brinkley said, that regional leaders will have to come to a consensus on interbasin transfers, but he predicted it could be a tough sell to those who have plenty of water.

Wager said the region’s population is expected to double by 2050, and the ability to provide clean and plentiful water for drinking, industry and recreation has not been assessed on a region-wide basis.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers said the expected increase in population will require, in turn, more conservation. An unfortunate aspect is that utilities often increase their rates with higher demand, LaFevers said.

Alderwoman Mary Ponds said COG’s regional effort must not only educate leaders but consumers, too. She also spoke of the importance of water quality: “Keeping it clean is important,” she said.

Mayor Bill Feather noted the impacts on recreation and lakeside property values when water levels have to be lowered.

In other town business, aldermen:

• Swore in Sean Dunham as the town’s new fire inspector.

• Sent a downtown revitalization proposal from Arnett Muldrow, a planning firm from Greenville, S.C., to the Revitalization Team for a recommendation.

The Revitalization Team will meet at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 18.

• Heard from Town Manager Justin Price that Time Warner Cable should be making wireless internet service available in the town’s parks sometime in November.

• Learned the town staff is working with the property owner of 241 N. Salisbury Ave., the former Eastside store and Exxon, to address condition of the site.

• Heard from Sarah Cross that the town’s holiday banquet for staff and town volunteers will be held Dec. 5 and Santa Claus’ appearance and the tree lighting at Granite Lake Park will take place Dec. 7. Signups will begin this week for businesses and organizations wanting to sponsor Christmas trees at the park.

• Learned the collection of leaves has started, with vacuum pickups every Monday.

• Learned Christmas lights will be installed the second or third week of November. American flags will be going up Friday in advance of Veterans Day.

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