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Manager recommends no change in Granite Quarry tax rate

GRANITE QUARRY — Interim Town Manager Larry Smith has asked the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen to keep the town’s property tax rate at 41.75 cents per $100 valuation.

The environmental fee for garbage pickup also would remain at $12 a month for residents.

Smith made a formal presentation of his 2019-20 budget message Monday night. Aldermen set a public hearing on the budget for 6 p.m. Friday at Town Hall. The town board’s next work session on the budget will be at 4:30 p.m. June 18.

A tax rate of 41.75 cents per $100 valuation means the owner of a $150,000 house in Granite Quarry will see his annual property tax stay at $626.25. Those taxes are in addition to Rowan County taxes.

Even though the total assessed valuation for Granite Quarry increased 11.8% with Rowan County’s 2019 revaluation, Smith recommended no reduction in the town’s tax rate, which is among the lowest among municipalities in the county.

“The town of Granite Quarry is growing,” Smith said in his budget message. “Major residential development brings increased demand on (and) calls for town services, usually much more so than commercial and industrial development.

“The town has taken very proactive measures to balance residential levels of service that promote high quality of life, alongside industrial and commercial efforts that help offset the cost of those services while also providing quality of life benefits as well.”

In comparing current municipal tax rates in Rowan County, only Cleveland (28 cents per $100 valuation) and Faith (41 cents per $100 valuation) have lower rates than Granite Quarry.

“The town board and professional staff have maintained operational expenses at very lean margins through the years to keep the tax rate at a minimum,” Smith’s budget message continued.

“Consequently, some high-cost project needs have had to be postponed over multiple fiscal years, such as Town Hall renovation needs, major street resurfacing projects and major park item needs.”

The total proposed budget is $3,112,880, including a general fund of $2,397,287. Industrial development and FEMA grants add $715,593 and push the total budget over $3.1 million.

Here are some of the highlights of what Smith’s proposed budget includes:

• Funding for two additional officers for the Granite Quarry-Faith Police Authority and replacing one patrol car.

Under the Police Authority agreement with Faith, Granite Quarry is reimbursed by Faith based on a population percentage. The 2019-20 percentage for Faith is 21.1%, equating to $153,243 from Faith, according to Smith’s proposal.

• Funding of $54,167 for existing debt service on a water line extension for a new residential subdivision, Village at Granite.

• Upfront funding of $277,800 for the Chamandy Drive sewer extension grant for Granite Quarry Industrial Park. The state is expected to reimburse $243,075 of that money to the town.

• Upfront funding for $437,793 Federal Emergency Management Agency-designated storm repairs at Granite Lake Park. The town is expecting to be reimbursed by FEMA for at least $328,345 of those repairs, which the town must take care of first.

• A 2.22% cost-of-living raise for town employees. These would be merit raises based on performance reviews.

• The 2.22 percent increase also would be given to town board members.

• $82,557 in state Powell Bills funds toward capital street projects.

• $50,000 toward the refurbishing of the Fire Department’s Engines 572 and 573, both of which are 25 years old.

• $30,000 for the purchase of a 1-ton replacement truck in the Maintenance Department.

Broken down by departments, the budget calls for $16,787 to go toward the governing body, which this year will include the cost of the November  municipal elections; $555,268 for administration, which includes $32,217 for improved code enforcement; $726,268 for the Police Authority; $499,831 for the Fire Department; $292,456 for the Maintenance Department; $39,000 for parks and recreation; and $185,120 for environmental costs, which include street lights and garbage and recycling contracts.

“While we don’t have the funds or manpower to achieve all of our desired goals,” Smith said in his budget message, “this budget prioritizes funding into the areas established by this administration and the Board of Aldermen.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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