City to hold public hearing for proposed budget, talk Ashton Manor development

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 1, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City council members today will hold a virtual public hearing for the proposed 2021-22 fiscal year budget and consider approving the final subdivision plat for the first phase of the Ashton Manor development.

The regular meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live at salisburync.gov/webcast or via the city’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment period must do so by contacting City Clerk Kelly Baker no later than 5 p.m. today via kbake@salisburync.gov or 704-638-5233.

City Manager Lane Bailey at the May 18 meeting presented the approximate $47 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1. To equalize revenues and expenses, Bailey has proposed the city use more than $1 million from the general fund’s fund balance, which acts partially as a savings account, particularly since the city saw a nearly $1.5 million surplus in the current fiscal year.

Currently, the general fund is budgeted $1.37 million higher than the current fiscal year. A total of $45.64 million was adopted for 2020-21, while $47.02 million is proposed for 2021-22. Most of the increase is attributed to police and public works pay increases, special projects within the Planning Department and Development Services such as the Neighborhood/Downtown Revitalization program, streetscape amenities and roof and HVAC projects.

Council members met May 26 to further discuss several key items not budgeted. The proposed budget includes 5% pay increases for sworn police officers and 5% to 15% raises for certain public works positions. While that rate puts those wages at market rate, Bailey said an additional 1.5% raise for sworn officers, which amounts to $92,000, is not included. Implementing the additional raise is intended to incentivize and address recruiting challenges.

Another incentive Bailey and council members have considered is an increase in the city’s match to employees’ 401K, except sworn officers, from 3% to 4%, which would total nearly $186,000. Additionally, out of concern for the pay rates in the IT and fire departments, Bailey would like to see an additional $258,000 be budgeted to address recruiting issues in other departments.

With all of the additions, $535,920 is needed.

Bailey said his proposed budget will not require a property tax rate increase, keeping it at 71.96 cents per $100 in property valuation.

Development of Ashton Manor, meanwhile, has been dormant since approval in 2002, but preparation is underway to begin building under a new developer.

The development would create 111 single-family townhomes off Sunset Drive. The city’s Engineering Department is requesting the acceptance of four streets to be maintained by the city with established STOP conditions, and they would qualify for Powell Bill funds in July. Those streets include Cranberry Way, from Sunset Drive southwest to the end; Century Drive, from Curnaby Way to Cranberry Way; Winston Lane, from Century Drive to Cranberry Way; and Curnaby Way, from Sunset Drive to Century Drive.

Other items on the agenda:

• Council members will formally approve the 2021-22 Community Development Block Grant and HOME Action Plan budgets. For the 2021-22 fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30, 2022, the city is receiving $460,870. Of that, $314,360 are CDBG funds and the remaining $146,510 comes from the HOME program. Of the CBDG funds, city staff are suggesting $157,044 be used for the owner-occupied rehabilitation program, $17,569 be dedicated to a Lash Drive sidewalk project, $42,500 be granted to five local public service agencies, $57,032 be earmarked for city staff to administer the programs and $35,740 be used toward the city’s debt at Park Avenue Center. Additionally, part of the CBDG funds include $25,000 in program income from previous years. Following a call for applications, staff are granting $10,000 to Rowan Helping Ministries, $10,000 to Family Crisis Council, $5,000 to Capstone Recovery Center, $7,500 to Meals on Wheels and $10,000 to One Love, Inc.

From the HOME program funds, city staff recommend $108,217 be designated for the owner-occupied rehabilitation program, $30,000 be used for down payment assistance and $8,293 be submitted to the Salisbury Community Development Corporation to administer the programs.

The plan is available for public viewing at salisburync.gov/housing, at the Rowan County Public Library and at city offices.

• Council members will revisit two rezoning requests. One is to rezone 7.55 acres containing six parcels adjacent to North Craige, West Henderson, North Caldwell and Hobson streets from general residential and general residential/open space preserve to open space preserve only in preparation of the construction of a central operations center at Hurley Park. The other request is to rezone six parcels on the corner of West Marsh and South Ellis streets from general residential to urban residential and correct the split zoning of two parcels from general residential and historic residential to historic residential only.

• Council members will consider a request to authorize the demolition of six local structures, including 411 Grim St., 210 South Caldwell St., 420 Partee St., 606 West Innes St., 720 South Jackson St. and 728 South Jackson St.

• Council members will consider authorizing Bailey to execute a contract with Iron Horse Development for a Salisbury Paul Bruhn Revitalization Grant in the amount of $150,000 for a project at 121 West Council St. The project would rehabilitate the building into 12 apartments, install climate-controlled storage on the basement level and provide a Verizon network operation center. It’s estimated to provide a $2.2 million investment.

The grant comes from the National Parks Service. Council members approved the awarding of more than $300,000 in federal grants to four other rehabilitation projects in early May that are estimated to bring $4 million in capital investment to the Downtown Historic District.

• Council members will consider several amendments to the 2020-21 fiscal year budget, including $369,171 to appropriate Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Community Development Block Grant funds; $15,750 to appropriate a Parks and Recreation Hurley Park donation; $100,000 to appropriate grant funds from the Fred Stanback Donor Advised Fund for park improvements; $17,018 to appropriate funds from the North Carolina Alliance of YMCAs for childcare staff expenses incurred from August to November 2020; a $25,000 donation to Parks and Recreation for pickleball courts; a $13,950 donation from The Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation; $2,800 in donations to the Salisbury Police Department and $24,770 to appropriate funds from the Office of Justice Programs/Office for Victims of Crime for a law enforcement-based victim specialist grant.

The council will also authorize a $15,288 stormwater grant for improvements to 1931 Sherwood St. as well as another $4,268 stormwater grant for improvements at 1607 North Jackson St.

• Council members will consider approving a right-of-way encroachment by Spectrum for the installation of directional bored duct on Filbert Street.

• Council members will consider authorizing Bailey to award a contract amounting to $129,800 to Demolition and Asbestos Removal Inc. to complete asbestos abatement services at the former Kesler Mills site. Funds for the project were made available via a $500,000 brownfield grant.

• Council members are expected to endorse the Ella Brown Cannon House, located at 202 Fulton St., to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

• Council members may move forward with various boards and commissions appointments. Currently, the Human Relations Council has two open seats, while two regular seats and one ETJ seat remain on the Planning Board.

• Mayor Karen Alexander will proclaim the month of June “Immigrant Heritage Month” and June 6 as the 77th Anniversary of D-Day, while June to August is deemed Play Ball Summer.

Alexander will also announce that applications are now being accepted for neighborhood participation in the 2021 BlockWork event scheduled for Oct. 23. Applications and guidelines are available online at www.salisburync.gov/BlockWork. The deadline to submit an application is June 11. For more information, contact Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson at 704-638-5235 or email blockwork@salisburync.gov.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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