• 70°

Commissioners talk incentives for broadband construction, 2020 election funding

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — A financial incentive to begin developing rural broadband infrastructure in the county and more funding to the Board of Elections were two discussions among commissioners as they debated the proposed 2020-21 budget on Monday.

Rowan County Board of Commissioners met virtually at 1 p.m. on Monday for a budget work session and then heard public comments about the budget at 6 p.m.

The proposed budget amounts 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, which must be adopted by July 1, includes an estimated 9.5% reduction in sales tax revenue, which amounts to a $2.5 million loss. If adopted, the budget will not raise taxes and will maintain the 65.75 cents per $100 in valuation rate.

At the budget work session, commissioners discussed a years-long initiative to expand broadband in the rural areas of the county. Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said the county anticipated receiving state funding to begin developing the infrastructure on July 1, but that date has now been pushed back indefinitely as additional funds have been implemented for more rural, needier counties.

Rowan County is in the second tier. Edds suggested to commissioners offering wireless broadband companies a financial incentive of $50,000 to begin the process. He said the incentive serves as both a business and economic development opportunity.

“It not only serves the public, but it also serves the fire station and emergency management services,” Edds said.

The Scotch Irish Township area of the county was a particular focal point.

Commissioner Craig Pierce expressed concern with whether the county would be reimbursed from the state once the grants are made available. Edds said he’s unsure, but “getting ahead” looks good for future grants.

The board agreed to add the $50,000 expense to the proposed budget by pulling from the contingency line item amount of $70,000. The contingency amount allows for changes to the budget without exceeding the overall recommended general fund.

The board will pursue the state about reimbursement after the budget is adopted.

Additionally, the board agreed to also pull $1,500 from contingency to fund Salisbury-Rowan Crime Stoppers.

Funding for the Board of Elections was another discussion during the public comment period. Despite a request for $927,196, the recommended amount in the proposed budget is $722,410. The Board of Elections was allotted $700,626 last year.

George W. Benson, a member of the Board of Elections, said the board is asking for safe, clean polls to make voting more accessible amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Not ensuring safety and health would “endanger our electoral process.”

Another Rowan County citizen said she was glad to hear discussion, about “the long overdue broadband incentives,” but she was “disappointed it was an afterthought.” Talking about a new building at Dan Nicholas Park, she said, “I wish you put that much value in our Board of Elections.”

Rowan County Democrats Chair Geoffrey Hoy also spoke in support of the funding as the “legitimacy of the entire democratic process is based upon voting.”

Funding for safer elections is part of the county’s recent grant of $2.56 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. A total of $52,000 will be allotted, allowing for general election supplies, plexiglass shields at each table, floor spacing markers and hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.

Speakers at the public hearing were allowed three minutes to address the board. The public can submit comments via email at budget.hearing@rowancountync.gov until June 12.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct comments made during public comments.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.




Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations


Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop


Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute


Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?


Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline


Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget


Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle


CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science


Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies


With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions


Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration


Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline


Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance


Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list


Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May


Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards


Cheerleading team competes at Disney


Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team


Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest


‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer


Public Records: March Deeds


Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31