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Kannapolis city council takes first look at 2019 budget

KANNAPOLIS — City Manager Mike Legg says the theme of the proposed fiscal-year 2019 budget is “bridging the gap.”

The gap is between the necessary major investments for downtown revitalization and the flow of new revenue to support those efforts, said Legg in a budget message delivered to the City Council on Tuesday evening.

“This recommended budget is essentially a short-term pause in our budget growth which will likely continue for the next few fiscal years,” Legg said. “… It is a budget that gets us between now and where our future is going to be.”

In total, the proposed budget is $69.3 million, a 1.67 percent increase from the previous year’s budget. The new budget year is from July 1 through June 30, 2019.

It would require no increase in property taxes.

Legg said the budget was affected by new annual debt service totaling $5 million.

The new projects include Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s relocation to College Station, the downtown streetscape and linear park, interest payments on the new sports and entertainment venue, a downtown parking deck and more.

But, said Legg, the spending is more than offset with projected capacity gains totaling $5.4 million in new downtown and College Station revenue, cuts in recurring expenditures, fund balance appropriations and fiscal year 2018 excess capacity, to name a few.

“It covers our costs,” said Legg. “… That’s the goal of all this.”

Legg highlighted several aspects of the 2019 budget, including investment in employees, continued aggressive revitalization efforts, focus on economic development, improvement to city services and continued financial plan implementation.

For city employees, the budget would allow for a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for all full-time and part-time employees.

The budget also allows for up to 3 percent performance-based merit raises, a career advancement program, a 1 percent 401 (k) match and a flex-dollar program of $420 per employee.

The flex-dollar program would be in addition to the $700 to $850 health care savings program that employees already receive.

“This is the largest increase in employee benefits in the city’s 44-year history,” Legg said.

The budget allots for 15 new employees to improve city services, including positions in public safety, planning, administration and public works.

Legg praised the council for its implementation of its 10-year financial plan, saying it had “really put us in a place where we can continue to grow.”

He said positive growth trends are continuing, with nearly $400 million combined in residential, commercial and industrial development occurring over the past four years.

“The tax base for the entire town of Landis is approximately $250 million,” he said. “Essentially, every two or three years, we’re growing by another town of Landis.”

A public hearing will be held on the proposed budget at 6 p.m. June 11 at 401 Laureate Way.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting:

• Council members approved a text amendment of the Unified Development Ordinance to allow for the transfer of impervious development rights within a watershed protection overlay.

The amendment came after theplanning staff was approached by a developer of a parcel at the southeast corner of Lane Street and China Grove Road, located in the Lake Fisher Critical Area, which limits maximum build area to 24 percent of the site.

The developer asked if the city would allow him to purchase another property in the watershed and count both pieces together as a paired parcel.

The ordinance did not previously have any provision to allow this.

• Council members approved an agreement for the exchange of real property with Atlantic American Properties Inc.

Atlantic American owned a 0.315-acre tract appraised at $63,000 essential to completing the new baseball stadium.

In exchange, the company was given an Oak Avenue parcel at the former site of Neta’s children’s store. The tract is 0.04 acres and was appraised for $63,200.

• Staff members from the Kannapolis Police Department and some residents voiced concern about salary rates and benefits for officers.

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