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Kannapolis to consider approving 2020 budget

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council will meet Monday, June 24, at 6 p.m. to consider a fiscal year 2020 operating budget that could see water and sewer fees raised $1.30 a month per 1,000 gallons in usage.

The increase represents a 21% jump for Tier 1 users — those using less than 7,000 gallons a month — currently paying $6.15 for water inside the city limits, and an 18% increase for Tier 1 users currently paying $7.30 outside the city. According to City Manager Mike Legg, an average monthly residential water and sewer utility bill, for a customer using 4,000 gallons, is anticipated to increase $10.40.

By comparison, Salisbury’s June 18 approved budget increased water and sewer rates 1.6%, for an increase of $1.11 monthly.

In his budget message, Legg said the increase was intended to cover the recoup the costs of $27.3 million in outstanding water and sewer infrastructure projects over the next three years. The largest of these is scheduled for fiscal year 2021: a $10 million effort to bring water and sewer service to the High Bridge site — a recently annexed 318-acre portion along Interstate 85 to be developed once the infrastructure is extended.

Fiscal year 2020 projects include sludge lagoon dewatering, Mooresville Road Water Main relocation and replacement, bulk storage replacement and Lane Street water relocation and replacement.

The two town increases have caused concern for residents in neighboring Landis, as the town has its sewer treated by Salisbury-Rowan Utilities and receives water from Kannapolis. But the Landis interim Finance Officer Roger Hosey said those decisions will not affect residents’ bills.

The water and sewer rate increases represent the only proposed rate hikes in Legg’s 2020 proposal, with the budget proposal totaling $75,513,726 for all seven of the city’s operating funds.

If approved, the current tax rate will remain at .63 cents per $100 valuation, meaning those owning homes valued at $150,000 will pay $945 annually in property taxes for all city services.

Legg said the city’s population is expected to reach 50,000 by the end of this year — an approximate 15% increase since 2010. This growth will lead to a 5% increase in or $1.5 million in new property tax revenues and a 9% or $845,000 increase in sales tax revenues.

“This budget will focus our efforts on continuing the aggressive revitalization plans for downtown, maintaining our current delivery of services to residents and investing in our employees,”said Legg. “We will continue to position ourselves as a premier location for investors to bring their business and residential developments to the city.”

Other highlights of budget include:

• Downtown revitalization. The budget includes $1.9 million for the next stages of revitalization, including Gem Theatre improvements, improvements for Blocks 1, 2, 8 and 6 and more.

• Two new positions in Parks and Recreation. The proposed budget will add a construction maintenance worker to maintain the new downtown streetscape/linear park and a youth athletics coordinator to oversee a new youth sports program.

Incentive grants. Legg’s proposal factors in a $350,000 increase in incentive grants to Gordon Foods and $340,000 for the first year for Amazon.

General services operating capital. Expenses include $47,000 for a generator at Fire Station No. 5, $32,000 for a generator at North Communications Tower and $7,400 for a steam cleaner for grout at City Hall.

• Ballistic helmets and vests in the police department. An increase of $10,000 in expense is projected for this year. The total cost is $58,000, with a plan to to fund the purchases over the next five years.

• Personal protective equipment for the fire department. The budget includes an $8,000 increase in for fire department staffing turnover. When a firefighter leaves the department is responsible for the purchase of new equipment.

• Parks and Recreation salaries. Legg has proposed a $105,000 increase in part-time salaries within the department, including $60,000 for building monitors at City Hall and the train station; $30,000 for building monitors at city school facilities and $15,000 for current part-time salaries as a result of the Employee Compensation Study.

• Reductions in contracted services. The budget includes a $50,000 decrease in contracted services due to the city bringing engineering services in house and becoming fully staffed last year; a $350,000 decrease in contract planning services as studies for Cannon Boulevard and South Main Street have been delayed due to limited staff capacity in the Planning Department; and a $40,000 decrease in contracted services for master plans for the Eastside and Westside parks which were completed last year.

Council members will consider adopting the budget Monday evening at Kannapolis City Hall, located at 401 Laureate Way in Kannapolis.

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