County budget approved with some changes

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 26, 2024

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners approved the proposed county budget with administrative changes on Monday.

The budget proposed by County Manager Aaron Church kept the property tax rate at the same as the previous year, at 58 cents per $100 of property valuation.

Several fire departments did propose increases to their district tax rates, which were approved by the commissioners on Monday. Rockwell Rural will have a tax rate of $0.0995, up from $0.09. Rowan-Iredell will have a tax rate of $0.082, up from $0.06. Miller’s Ferry will have a tax rate of $0.11, up from $0.0875.

One rate that the commissioners voted to increase on Monday that was not included in the proposed budget was the water rate. Rowan County Finance Director Anna Bumgarner said that the commissioners had directed the finance department to wait until Salisbury raised their rates to increase the county rates. The rate increase approved on Monday matches the city rate, with a 3.5 percent increase.

Several other changes were made to the proposed budget, including increases to inmate service costs that Church said were caused by bids for the services coming in higher than expected. The budget for inmate healthcare was raised by $337,708, which raised it from $1.3 million to $1,637,708. The budget for inmate food services was raised by $113,000, which raised it from $664,000 to $777,000.

Commissioner Judy Klusman asked if those services would pay for addiction services for inmates. Purchasing Director Jody Farrow-Bennett said that inmate services had adopted an addiction program that would be staffed and provided by the Rowan County Health Department, but that the contracted services included prescription and medication costs.

Church also reported that the county would appropriate $220,000 of grants for the volunteer fire departments throughout Rowan County, or $10,000 for each, to help them pay for part-time staffing.

Church also asked the commissioners to increase the contracted services line item under the court facilities department by $225,030. He said that the funding was for two assistant district attorney positions, and that the funding was inadvertently left off of the budget.

Also included in the proposed budget are several large-scale capital items. The commissioners have approved the remodeling of the Crawford Building, located at 310 N. Main St., to allow for several government departments to move into the 13,122-square-foot facility. The remodeling has $4.85 million included in the budget. Approximately $3.5 million has been budgeted to bring all of the Rowan County parks into compliance with the American Disability Act.

Throughout the specially-called meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously multiple times to approve the separate budget ordinances.