Granite Quarry formally approves budget, keeps tax rate flat

Published 12:10 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen voted on Monday to formally approve the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

The vote came after a short discussion about whether or not keeping the tax rate the same as the current fiscal year was the correct decision. Budget workshops and discussions through the past few months had addressed the tax rate, with Acting Town Manager Jason Hord providing the aldermen with numbers for no increase through a three-cent increase. The budget that Hord officially proposed, however, kept the tax rate at 44 cents per $100 dollars of property valuation.

That budget was approved by a vote of three to one, with Alderman John Linker being the only one to vote against the motion.

Linker was the alderman who brought up the idea of a two-cent tax increase during the meeting. He mentioned several larger-scale capital projects that the town has in its plans, including the purchase of a new fire truck, renovations to the town hall building, renovations to the American Legion building and sidewalk repairs throughout town.

“I would rather do (a two-cent increase) and do it in smaller increments than to have to do what Rockwell is voting on to increase nine cents, or East Spencer with 20 cents. I’m not saying that we have to worry about them, I just think that smaller increments in our tax rather than raising it a lot would save a lot of heartburn. I would hate to vote to raise it nine cents or ten cents,” said Linker.

Mayor Pro Tem Doug Shelton said that he could not agree with increasing the tax rate because the town already published the proposed budget, so going back and changing the publicly available proposal did not feel right to him. The aldermen did hold a public hearing for the budget but no residents spoke.

Shelton said that he would prefer to hold off until the next fiscal year to give the board members time to speak with the community about the necessity of a future increase.

“Assuming a reasonable increase in operating costs next year, we’re going to have to come up with an additional $300,000, almost, to make it. Next spring, we’re talking about $300,000. That’s seven cents on the tax rate,“ Shelton said.

The proposal that Hord presented to the aldermen included purchase of the fire truck through debt service, which means that the town will make annual payments of $251,000 for the next five fiscal years. The truck is the town’s only debt item for the 2025 fiscal year.

The budget also includes cost of living adjustments of four percent for all departments. 

The fire budget, which includes a total of $1,051,262, has funding for three new full-time firefighter positions to help the department maintain as close to fully-staffed status as possible at all times.

The police budget includes a total of $1,036,733. Granite Quarry-Faith Joint Police Authority Chief Mark Cook shared during a recent Faith Board of Aldermen meeting that the department is close to hiring two new officers, which would give the department 10 officers and bring it up to fully-staffed status.

The budget as approved by the aldermen will go into effect on July 1, the first day of the 2024-2025 fiscal year.