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New positions proposed in county’s budget include health preparedness coordinator, waste enforcement officer

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A total of 39 new positions were requested for the upcoming county budget, but only three have been recommended by County Manager Aaron Church in what he described as “tight, conservative” county budget.

The budget, first presented to county commissioners last week, is set to be adopted by July 1, when the 2020-2021 fiscal year starts. And the county has scheduled a public hearing on the budget for Monday at 6 p.m.

The three new positions include an environmental compliance specialist and a preparedness coordinator — both funded by the general fund — as well as a solid waste enforcement officer, which is to be funded from the Landfill Fund.

The total 2020-21 budget presented to commissioners on May 27 amounted to $176.4 million in expenditures, with $153.5 million from the general fund. That’s a 4% reduction from the previous year, where the general fund budget was $159.48 million. The proposed budget includes an estimated 9.5% reduction in sales tax revenue, which amounts to a $2.5 million loss.

The environmental compliance specialist position will be a transfer of an already existing position in the Environmental Management Department, which is currently funded by the Solid Waste Enterprise fund. The new specialist position will be within the Planning and Development Department.

Transferring the position will eliminate the responsibility of landfill operations, and instead focus on erosion control review and inspections, zoning/nuisance inspections and Solid Waste Ordinance violations. Nuisance inspections can include junked vehicles and minimum housing standards, for example.

The approximate cost to the county’s general fund for this position transfer would be $107,720, which includes wages, benefits and supplies/equipment for the position.

“We’re saying it’s a new position because it is a new position in the General Fund,” County Manager Aaron Church said. “It’s not a new position for the county.”

Additionally, the salary for this position is $76,302, not including benefits.

Another position is the preparedness coordinator within the Rowan County Health Department. Currently, the county shares the position with the Cabarrus County Health Department. But Rowan County is requesting funding for its own full-time position.

The county health department is able to fund 32-hour work weeks for the position, according to 2020-21 proposed budget documents. The total cost of the preparedness coordinator position is $54,969, but the Rowan County Health Department is only requesting $3,600 from the county to fund travel, office and medical supplies and other small equipment.

The salary for the position is $33,620, not including benefits.

The county health department obtains funding from multiple other entities in addition to the county. Thus, the actual total cost to the county for both the environmental compliance specialist and preparedness coordinator position amounts to $111,320 from the general fund.

The third position is the creation of a solid waste enforcement officer, which will be a sworn law enforcement position. The officer will enforce laws about littering around the county and report to Environmental Management Director Caleb Sinclair, Church said.

The cost of the position, along with a water tank and associated equipment, is $268,137 from the Landfill Fund, which has a proposed budget of $9.61 million for FY 2020-21.

The three approved positions are in line with recommendations from Matrix Consulting Group, which was hired by the county to evaluate the Planning and Inspections departments.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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