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Defying expectations, sales in Spencer were up in June

SPENCER — John Sofley, the town’s budget manager, said he did a double take when he looked at the town’s June sales tax payment for June

Sofley told the town’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday he expected there would be a decline in sales-tax revenue due to COVID-19, but numbers showed sales tax revenue was up about $5,000 more than the previous year.

“I’m really excited about that,” Sofley said, adding the increase is a good sign for the town’s finances.

The town expects to receive its first distribution from the new fiscal year’s property tax levy toward the end of the month, and Sofley said then the town can start putting money back in its investments rather than money out.

Sofley said the town is spending more than it is receiving in revenue because the new property tax distributions are not coming in yet, and that situation should reverse as the year goes on.

He noted the town prepared all the documents for its annual audit ahead of time, that auditors spent two days reviewing documents as well as asking staff questions. Sofley said there have been no follow up questions from auditors as of Tuesday.

“You ought to be very pleased with your staff and the response this year,” Sofley said. “The auditor also made the comment that the books this year, compared to last year, looked in excellent shape.”

Sofley also noted the town opted out of deferring Social Security tax payments on the employee side per a new executive order signed by President Donald Trump. Sofley said the town opted out because the town could be on the hook for additional taxes if an employee leaves. Meanwhile, the money would just be collected from employees again during tax season and they would lose the benefit at the end of the year.

Treme noted the town had $2,000 set aside for events and chose to use that funding for new books for the library because COVID-19 resulted in cancellations. Treme said books have been frequently checked out, and the library has received positive comments from residents about the new additions.

Other news from the meeting:

• The board awarded a pair of $500 facade improvement grants for a pair of addresses on Fourth Street and Yadkin Avenue.

The grants were awarded for the restoration of a commercial facade at 106 Fourth St. which qualifies under the town’s facade grant guidelines, as does the application to paint the front facade and trim at 808 Yadkin St.

• The board sold a town-owned lot located at 511 South Carolina Avenue for an agreed upon $10,000, and turned down $5,000 for a pair of lots located on Seventh Street, behind town hall, citing concerns about how it could affect the “develop-ability” of the current town hall property once it is vacated for the new Park Plaza facility. Treme advised discussion of sale of any of the property be postponed until after the move

•The board welcomed new assistant manager Peter Franzese. Franzese, a Rowan County resident, is expected to eventually take over for interim manager David Treme.

Franzese is public affairs and projects manager for the city of Concord. Treme, a retired administrator, never planned on staying on a permanent basis. The town announced Franzese’ hiring last week, and he will start on Oct. 5.

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