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China Grove unanimously passes $4.43 million budget

CHINA GROVE — The excitement was obvious on Tuesday when it was time for the Town Council to pass a budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

After some members briefly talked about the budget, every single member of the Town Council, in unison, offered a motion to pass the $4.43 million spending document. A rare moment, it generated laughter from those in attendance. Most of the audience members attended the meeting for another matter at the end of the agenda, but Mayor Lee Withers said he was excited they would get to hear about the town’s budget.

“This is the most people we’ve had at a meeting in a long time,” Withers said during the meeting. “We’re gonna pass a budget tonight and I’m pretty daggum excited this many people are here tonight to hear about it.”

No member of the public spoke about the budget during a public hearing on the matter. Council members also didn’t extensively discuss the matter.

Withers said the town’s staff crafted a budget that passed unanimously and didn’t require much tweaking. The budget doesn’t raise property taxes, which will remain at 58 cents per $100 in valuation.

It estimates $4.43 million in general fund revenue to go with the $4.43 million in expenditures. However, a portion of the revenue comes from saved money — called the fund balance. Even with the withdrawal from fund balance, China Grove will remain above the state’s recommended minimum amount.

New vehicles are the most significant expenditures in Deal’s proposed budget.

With a total cost of $675,000, a new fire truck tops the list of new vehicles. It will be paid for with a combination of saved money and a $400,000 loan.

The Town of China Grove will also purchase two new police cars — at a total cost of $70,000 — and a $75,000 truck for the public works department.

Other notable purchases included in China Grove’s budget include: $60,000 worth of air packs for the fire department, a leaf machine that costs $65,000, $25,000 worth of Christmas lights, $27,000 for a permanent stage in Hannah Park and $20,000 for a veterans memorial near the town’s community building.

The fire department and police department are budgeted to spend the most in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Deal has budgeted $1.2 million in fire department expenditures and $986,000 in police department expenditures.

In a written summary of his budget Deal said: “as in past years, this year’s budget is concise, conservative, and yet provides our citizens with needed services.”

By comparison, the town’s approved budget in June 2015 was $4.22 million, a couple thousand dollars less than the upcoming fiscal year.

The 2016-2017 fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30, 2017.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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