No increase in property tax, fees in Kannapolis proposed budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Staff report

KANNAPOLIS — The budget for the 2023-24 year presented to the city council Monday night includes no increases to property taxes or fees, according to City Manager Mike Legg, who outlined the budget proposal.

The total recommended budget is just over $104 million. The proposed budget concentrates on several strategies:

Beginning the implementation of the Imagine Kannapolis Strategic Plan.

Retaining existing employees and recruiting new people to work for the City.

Leveraging the City’s financial capacity to improve the quality of life for residents and the delivery of services to residents.

The city’s population is approximately 53,000 and the city has grown by almost 50 percent in the last 20 years. Kannapolis is the 20th largest city in North Carolina, and projections indicate that the city will continue to grow by 2.2 percent annually, likely reaching a population of 77,000 by 2040.

Like all cities and businesses across the US, Kannapolis faces the challenges of the new post-COVID economy. Fortunately, the city’s sustained positive financial health and the outlook for continued economic growth means the city can meet these challenges without increases in the property tax rate or fees this year.

In March 2022 the city launched the Imagine Kannapolis Strategic Plan. Thirteen focus groups were formed, and dozens of residents participated. The goal was to imagine the future of Kannapolis, especially what objectives the city would like to achieve in the next decade. Priorities were balanced with what needs the city will have during the next 10 years, and items Kannapolis would like to have to be a healthy, high-quality city and economic driver in the state.

The proposed budget includes funding for the first of six years of Imagine Kannapolis, subject to the city council ultimately adopting the final version of the Strategic Plan.

Projects and initiatives include:

• $2.8 million for renovations for fire stations No. 1 and 4

• $1.55 million for construction of a fire training tower and storage facility

• $1.2 million for Gem Theatre phase 3 improvements

• $450,000 for construction and operating costs for a downtown dog park

• $1.3 million for upgrades to existing city parks

• $190,000 for cultural arts & historic preservation work program

• $50,000 for open space and tree preservation plan

• $700,000 for downtown parking management plan (construction of new surface parking)

• $30,000 for exploring the possibility of a local part-time professional symphony/orchestra

• $1.34 million for Little Texas Road sidewalk (city’s portion to the NCDOT funding)

• $50,000 for NC Music Hall of Fame growth plan

• $60,000 for North Carolina Research Campus development strategy planning support

• $20,000 for motorsports asset promotion

• $750,000 for adding offices to the second floor of city hall

• $1.2 million for I-85 monument signage (joint project with the city of Concord – Exits 58, 60, 63)

Recruiting and retaining employees continues to be a high priority for the city.

“Our most valuable asset will always be our employees. Our employee team continues to serve at a high level and respond faithfully every day to their regular duties as well as emergency situations which arise. They are one of the top reasons we have been recognized as a Top City in the United States in many categories including quality of life, planning, safety, recreation and more,” said Legg. “This budget concentrates on providing the tools they need in order to do their jobs and for us to offer competitive salaries and benefits.”

If the budget is approved in June, the current tax rate will remain at 63 cents per $100 valuation, meaning a home valued at $200,000 will pay $1,260 annually in property taxes for all city services.

The majority of the city’s revenues come from two sources – property taxes (55 percent of the budget) and sales taxes (23 percent of the budget).

Other notable items in the budget include:

• 3 percent cost of living increases for employees: $900,577.

• Merit increases for eligible employees: $825,469.

• Salary development range increases for eligible employees – $497,000.

• 14 new positions in the police, fire, parks and recreation, environmental and water resources departments.

• Vehicles and equipment in the police, parks and recreation, fire, general services, environmental and transportation departments to replace aging and maintenance problem vehicles. Included are 17 police vehicles, a dump truck, cart delivery truck, asphalt patch truck, and two mini excavators.

• Funding is included to support fire department accreditation, audio-visual upgrades to certain city hall spaces and an update to the 10-year parks and recreation master plan.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m., June 12, at Kannapolis City Hall with adoption scheduled for June 26.