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County commissioners will close public hearing, vote on proposed budget

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners will meet Monday at 6 p.m, close a public hearing for the proposed 2020-2021 budget and vote on it, said Chairman Greg Edds.

The proposed budget, which must be adopted by July 1, amounts to $176.4 million in expenditures, with $153.5 million from the general fund. With questions remaining about how COVID-19 will affect the economy, it also includes an estimated 9.5% reduction in sales tax income. If it is adopted, it won’t raise taxes and will maintain the 65.75 cents per $100 valuation rate.

One point of discussion during consideration has been funding for the Board of Elections, which was discussed during the Board of Commissioners meeting June 1. The proposed budget allotted $722,410, although the request was for $927,196. Funding for safe elections in the midst of COVID-19 is part of the county’s grant of $2.56 million from North Carolina’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, with $52,000 allowed.

Public comments have been received about the budget since that meeting, too. As of June 10, there were eight written comments submitted, all of which centered on the budget cuts to the Board of Elections. Many pointed to the upcoming presidential election and the potential of the pandemic to necessitate changes to voting this year.

“Safe and easily accessible voting is the right of all your constituents, and I sincerely feel that funding the original request for the Board of Elections will accomplish that,” wrote Nan Lund in a public comment.

Others echoed this request.

“While I understand that budget cuts need to be made during this unprecedented time of economic downturn, I implore you to refrain from cutting any funding from the Rowan County Board of elections,” wrote Diane Labovitz. “Now more than ever, our citizens must have every opportunity to exercise their right to vote.”

Monday’s meeting will also include a public hearing for a rezoning on Bringle Ferry Road. Property owners Mark and Lorin Oden have a rezoning petition for their 8.36-acre tract. The tract of land, located in the 8600 block of Bringle Ferry Road, was zoned for commercial, business, industrial with a conditional district in 2000. It was going to accommodate a pier and dock construction business. The family did not move forward with the business, so that conditional district has since expired. Now, the current request is for the tract to be rural agricultural.

The public comment period, financial report, discussion of a July meeting schedule and budget amendments will follow consent agenda. The second-to-last item on the agenda is closing the public hearing regarding the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. A closed session will follow and include talk about a potential lease at the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport.

Items on the consent agenda include:

• A request from County Attorney Jay Dees for the release of deposit and voluntary dismissal related to the former Thelma’s Down Home Cooking at West End Plaza. In January, there was a mass shooting at the restaurant. County government terminated the lease with Luckey in January as well. There was past-due rent and further breaches in the contract due to the shootingThe request is specific to issues of past due rent due to the county, and property cleaning and repair costs incurred by the county.

• A request from the Rowan County Emergency Management Division for the Board of Commissioners to accept the award for three grant awards. The total amount is $17,695.45. One will provide money for citizen preparedness cards. One will allocate funding for hazardous materials team training. The Emergency Management Performance Grant Supplemental will provide $12,695.45 for technology needs for COVID-19. It requires a 50% match.

• A request for approval of a three year contract to continue service with Charter Spectrum for Internet Service and Fiber Connectivity to the two existing and one additional library branches.

• A request from Randy Cress, assistant county manager, to consider approval for a three-year extension of aerial imagery for the county. The additional two photo captures during winter would be used by the Tax Assessors Office, but overall imagery is used by the Tax Office, GIS and public safety.

• A request from the Rowan County Department of Social Serices and One Church One Child to accept a COVID-19 Relief Fund Grant from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. The grant is $20,000 and doesn’t require a match from the county.

• A request for the approval of a contract for the construction of a concession stand at Dan Nicholas Park. The contract is with Salcoa Contracting. The 3,522-square-foot facility will be both an office and concession stand facility.

• A request from Nan Buehrer, the executive director of the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, to sign and approve a plan to be submitted to Centralina AA by June 30. The proposed funding plan allocates the use of the Home and Community Care Block Grant, which provides vital services to older adults. The grant requires a 10% matching from the county, which is $97,528.

• The Finance Department and county manager recommend that a contract be negotiated with Bogle Firm Architecture for architectural projects related to COVID-19 and ADA Compliance. The work will include creating work environments that minimize the transmission of COVID-19.

• A request from Valerie Steel, airport and transit Director, that a public hearing is scheduled at the July 6 meeting for the 5307 Transportation Program Grant.

Citizens can join Monday’s meeting from a personal computer, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Andriod at bit.ly/rowanboc0615 with the password 06152020. It can also be joined by phone at (602) 753-0140, (720) 928-9299, or (213) 338-8477, with Webinar ID  939 2243 5939 and password 06152020.

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