China Grove Town Council passes 2017-18 budget
By Josh Bergeron
CHINA GROVE — The Town Council on Tuesday approved a 2017-18 budget that pays for community building improvements and buys equipment for the police, fire and public works departments.
The budget, which passed unanimously, keeps the property tax rate at 58 cents per $100 in valuation. It also projects notable growth in tax revenue. Including all funds, the budget spends slightly more than $4 million.
Specific items include $200,000 for paving on Centerview Street, $100,000 for improvements to the community building on South Myrtle Avenue, $70,000 for Fire Department air packs, $40,000 for a new police car and $40,000 for the second phase of a stage at Hanna Park.
The budget also includes money to hire a full-time town planner, provides a 2.1 percent cost-of-living raise for town employees and allocates money for a 5 percent merit pool.
Town Council members didn’t extensively discuss the budget at Tuesday’s meeting. No one spoke during a public hearing on the budget.
Mayor Lee Withers thanked town employees for their work to put together the budget, which takes effect July 1.
In order to balance revenues with expenditures, China Grove will use $297,800 from cash reserves. However, the cash reserve balance — estimated to be $1.9 million — is more than the state requirement of 8 percent of the budget.
Compared to the budget as first proposed, the document approved Tuesday includes $215,700 in new expenditures that were requested by Town Council members. The largest of those new expenditures is $150,000 for paving Centerview Street. During a discussion last month about the budget, councilmen expressed a desire to spend available money for roadwork instead of saving it.
The budget says China Grove’s tax base — the total value of all taxable property in town — increased by $20 million over the prior year. Sales tax revenue in the current fiscal year has been more than expected, said Finance Director Mary Jo Bopp.
For the coming fiscal year, the budget estimates continued increases in sales and property tax revenue.
Not included in the budget is a ladder truck for the China Grove Fire Department. However, Bopp said it’s possible to amend the budget later if a quality truck is found.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.
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