Granite Quarry starts going over numbers for 2016-17 budget

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2016

By Mark Wineka

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen took its first serious look at a 2016-2017 budget proposal Thursday, but members didn’t get too far before they decided they wanted a simpler breakdown of the numbers.

Basically, they asked Town Manager Phil Conrad and Finance Officer Jim Philyaw to come back with something that lays out the general fund’s total operating budget, a separate list of capital projects and what kind of fund balance, if any, would have to be appropriated to make ends meet.

Aldermen expressed some confusion at what they were seeing in the line items Thursday and what the real bottom line was. The revenue side of the budget showed, for example, a fund balance appropriation of $552,609, but a good portion of that supposedly was a federal sidewalk grant reflected in a line item elsewhere.

“I will not go into the fund balance for operating expense,” Mayor Pro Tem Mike Brinkley said.

“Neither will I,” Alderman Jim LaFevers said.

Mayor Bill Feather agreed.

LaFevers said he would like to see a simple balance sheet or summary showing what the proposed operating budget is and, if its expenses are more than revenues, how much departmental requests would then have to be cut.

The town has a tax rate of 42 cents per $100 valuation. Rowan County puts the property valuation for Granite Quarry at roughly $204 million. A 2016-2017 fiscal year budget takes effect July 1.

The town board recessed its budget session Thursday and agreed to pick it up again at 4 p.m. March 17 at Town Hall.

In the current 2015-2016 fiscal year, Granite Quarry has had a $2.7 million budget.

On the revenue side, Philyaw estimated property tax proceeds for the next fiscal year of $742,394, sales tax revenue of $550,00 and vehicle tax funds of $117,000.

Other larger revenue streams included $442,000 in the federal sidewalk grant and $50,000 from Salisbury-Rowan Utilities toward a line extension grant.

More anticipated revenues: Solid waste collection fees, $135,550; Powell Bill funds, $82,910; utilities franchise tax, $85,000; the town of Faith’s payment toward the joint police authority, $136,000; video franchise tax, $29,000; state beer and wine tax, $15,000; and natural gas tax, $6,000.

In another matter, aldermen reviewed new three-year and five-year contract proposals from Waste Management, which collects garbage in the town.

Conrad told the board it was Town Attorney Chip Short’s opinion that Waste Management’s proposal represented a contract extension, and in that case, the town did not need to seek bids from other vendors.

The three-year proposal would charge Granite Quarry $8.02 per household; the five-year contract, $7.74 per household. (The current charge is $8.52)

Granite Quarry has 1,184 households. The per-year cost in the three-year contract would be $113,948, compared to $109,969 with the five-year contract.

Some aldermen said even though a three-year contract cost more, it would give town officials more flexibility in case they wanted to change vendors after that period and not be locked into two more years.

“What’s the penalty for breaching the contract?” Feather asked. “I’d like to know.”

Conrad said he would try to find out and report back.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.