China Grove approves 2018-19 budget with improved revenue picture projected

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2018

CHINA GROVE — In his budget message, China Grove Town Manager Ken Deal said the general fund operating revenue has “slowly started increasing in the past few years.”

In fact, the revenue levels have reached those before the recession, he said, meaning town officials could pass the proposed 2018-19 budget without an increase in taxes.

The Town Council unanimously did just that after a public hearing held Tuesday.

The fiscal year budget runs from July 1 to June 30, 2019. General fund expenditures are expected to total $3.8 million.

About 48 percent of this, said Deal, will be offset by property tax revenue, 45 percent from sales taxes, utility franchise taxes and other revenue, and 7 percent from other financing sources such as the town’s fund balance and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities’ debt service.

Deal noted that the town’s fund balance, or savings, could use some work.

“The North Carolina Local Government Commission requires that municipalities maintain at least an 8 percent fund balance, and they recommend municipalities of our size maintain a fund balance of 60 percent,” he said. “At the conclusion of the fiscal year 2016-27, the town’s fund balance was 42 percent.”

He said it is imperative that the town strive to maintain a healthy savings balance for emergency situations.

Deal also said the town should look at funding sources for street repair. Several town-owned streets are classified as in poor or very poor condition. A significant number of streets are in need of major repair, he said.

Unfortunately, said Deal, 2018-19 projected revenue for road maintenance will be insufficient to cover these needed repairs.

Closing his budget message, Deal praised the town’s economic growth and its associated revenue increase.

“We feel the economy will continue to improve next year,” he said.

He said the town could expect continued gains in light of the transfer of its water and sewer system to Salisbury-Rowan Utilities.

“Our citizens should realize a savings in their utility bills again this year,” Deal said. “We also anticipate an opportunity for economic growth due to the availability of an abundance of water and sufficient sewer service provided by (Salisbury-Rowan Utilities).”

Look for more about Tuesday’s Town Council meeting in Thursday’s paper.