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As rapid population growth continues, Kannapolis approves budget, fee increases

KANNAPOLIS — As Charlotte continues to bubble over into surrounding areas, the city of Kannapolis is feeling the effects.

Its population is expected to reach 50,000 by the end of 2019, a nearly 15 percent increase since 2010 and a 1,200-person increase year over year.

The 2.5 percent increase in population from 2017 to 2018 is being met with a 1.8 percent increase in the city’s annual budget, as the City Council recently approved a fiscal year 2019 budget of $69.3 million.

Some $756,944 of the $1.2 million increase will come from new property tax revenue from new residential development in the area. The remaining $455,000 will come from a projected sales tax revenue increase, meaning the budget calls for no increase in tax rates.

The property tax rate will remain at 63 cents per $100 in home valuation. The owner of a home valued at $150,000 will pay $945 annually under this rate.

But the 2019 budget will lead to some increases for residents. The environmental fee will increase $3.75 per month, totaling $15.60 for recycling and trash collection.

The increase, according to City Manager Mike Legg, is meant to “subsidize a failing recycling products market” and “create a self-sustaining, user-funded service.”

Struggles in the recycling industry are caused largely by a new ban on recycling imports in China, said Legg, leading to cost increases that are no longer being covered by commodity revenue.

Residents will also see a $15 increase on their annual vehicle license fee, with a $30 total cost.

That increase is meant to pay for the costs of operating the Concord/Kannapolis Rider system and other transportation services: sidewalks, paving and other services, according to Annette Privette Keller, the city’s director of communications.

“We’re seeing an increase in people using public transit,” said Keller. “The light rail now comes to UNC Charlotte, so the Rider system will take people from Concord and Kannapolis down there.”

The public transportation system is also helping people commute locally, visit downtown, or attend ball games at Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how many people will utilize it,” Keller said. “There are a lot of benefits of having that in place.”

Other items of note in the budget include:

• An additional 15 positions spread among most of the city’s departments.

They include two police officers, a fire marshal, civil engineer, streets crew supervisor, planner, two park maintenance technicians, a communications multimedia specialist, two water and sewer construction maintenance workers, a public works warehouse assistant, water treatment plant operator, water treatment plant maintenance worker and water quality technician.

These positions are set to be added in January pending additional information from the city manager to council members about staff salaries and the positions.

• Continued progress on the Downtown Revitalization Project.

This includes first-year debt expenditures for a new sports and entertainment venue, the future home of the Kannapolis Intimidators. Keller said the project is currently out to bid, with a goal for completion in 2020.

The project also includes work on a new parking deck, continued work on streetscaping and infrastructure, and renovation of College Station.

• Employee benefits and salaries.

Investments include a 2 percent market adjustment for salaries, up to 3 percent merit raises at hiring anniversaries and a career investment program.

• Capital improvements include funding for Fire Station 2 and 3, Irish Buffalo Greenway, Oakwood Avenue sidewalk and Irish Buffalo Creek sewer line extension.

One-time expenditures include a Unified Development Ordinance reorganization, police radio tower upgrades, master plans for east- and west-side parks, Cannon Boulevard corridor planning, and North Main Street revitalization planning.

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