County manager’s budget projects $6 million in new revenue

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

SALISBURY — Without a tax rate increase, Rowan County commissioners are projected to have about $6 million in extra tax revenue to play with in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.

The extra tax revenue is a product of additional property and sales tax revenue, which includes a recently implemented tax on services. The largest portion of the additional revenue will go toward education. Capital projects such as roof replacements are the second largest portion of the increase.

Commissioners learned about the additional revenue on Monday during their regularly scheduled meeting. In his proposed budget, County Manager Aaron Church estimated property tax revenue would increase by about 3 percent in the coming fiscal year, which starts on July 1. Without considering the new tax on services, Church estimated sales tax revenue would increase by about 8 percent.

Rowan County’s proposed budget totals $145.68 million — an increase of nearly 5 percent when compared to the current year budget — and doesn’t include a property tax rate increase. If commissioners follow Church’s proposal, the property tax rate would remain 66.25 cents per $100 in valuation.

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners didn’t extensively discuss Church’s proposal. Instead, they’ve scheduled a budget work session for June 6 at noon in the county administration building, where they could choose to alter Church’s proposed budget.

A public hearing on the budget will also be held on June 6. It will occur at 5:30 p.m.

Commissioners who hung around after Monday’s meeting, placed a focus on education when asked about the budget. Commissioner Craig Pierce specifically said he’d like to talk about the distribution of the new tax on services — projected to generate $2 million in new revenue — during the budget work session. In Church’s proposal, $1 million of the new tax revenue would go to economic development work. The remaining $1 million would go toward public schools.

Pierce said he wants to ensure the school system receives the largest possible amount of additional sales tax revenue. The money also needs to be wisely spent, he said.

In Church’s budget, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College would receive an additional $439,972, Kannapolis City Schools would receive $103,188 and charter schools would receive an additional $19,884. The Rowan-Salisbury School System would receive about $1.57 million in additional tax money in Church’s proposal. A total of $927,000 from the new sales tax would be given to the Rowan-Salisbury system for current expenditures or capital projects, and $649,324 from projected growth in existing taxes would go toward current expenses.

In total, schools in Rowan County will receive $2.13 million of the county’s nearly $6 million in new tax revenue.

When asked for comments on the proposal, county commissioners Chairman Greg Edds focused on the additional money for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. He said a portion of the money would enable the school to receive a grant worth several hundred thousand dollars. He said the college is one of Rowan County’s “keys to growth.”

Commissioner Judy Klusman said the increased tax revenue in Church’s proposed budget is a sign that Rowan’s economy is growing.

The largest capital expenditures proposed in Church’s budget include $615,000 for a new roof at the courthouse and jail, about $558,300 for a new roof at the Health Department and $110,000 to remodel the current Rowan County Board of Elections.

Church’s proposed budget would also allow the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office to purchase 38 body cameras for deputies and hire nine new employees for Rowan County Emergency Services.

Rowan residents who wish to look at the proposed 2016-2017 budget can view a copy at the county clerk’s office on the second floor of the county’s administration building. Church said a copy should also be posted on the county’s website shortly.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.