Commissioners approve budget which uses COVID-19 funding and keeps tax rate – Salisbury Post
SALISBURY — After allocating $432,992 in emergency funds, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday night approved a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that uses COVID-19 relief funding to maintain the current rate of the property tax and allows significant expenses.
The total General Fund budget is $187.78 million, an increase of $14.56 million or 8.41% over the current budget. County Executive Aaron Church recommends an appropriation of $9.3 million from the county’s fund balance to balance the budget, which is $3.1 million less than the fund balance appropriation approved last year. last of 12.4 million dollars, a decrease of 24.99%.
The budget will come into effect on July 1.
The tax rate will remain the same at 65.75 cents per $100 of assessment.
Due to rising costs of goods and services, the budget includes a 9.4% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for county employees. If the consumer price index exceeds 9.99% over the past year in November, an additional COLA of 1.6% will take effect on January 1.
The budget spends $14.67 million in funding for the American Rescue Plan Act. Along with investments in water, sewer, broadband and public health, these funds will be used as income replacement to free up cash to cover a number of expenses, including the issuance of $2.1 million for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to build new facilities, or about $3.5. million in principal and interest for $55 million in debt for Rowan-Salisbury schools, $1.5 million for an increase in RSS operating expenses, and approximately $881,000 in principal and interest for an agricultural center in West End Plaza.
The budget projects sales tax revenue to be $33.7 million, an increase of $4 million or 13.57% over the 2021-2022 budget. In his budget message, Church warned that economic conditions could dampen those positive projections.
The budget includes $2.3 million for one-time capital expenditures. The largest capital purchase is $750,000 for the roof replacement at Rowan County facilities. There is also $430,000 for the path to the animal shelter, $450,000 for the roof of the library and $250,000 for the information technology storage.
The budget includes $650,000 in emergency funds, most of which was allocated by commissioners ahead of Monday night’s budget approval. Commissioner Craig Pierce requested that $50,038 be used to increase the total Meals on Wheels allocation from $72,000 to $125,000. Meals on Wheels provides nutritious meals to homebound seniors.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” he said. “They serve a lot of people who can’t go out to shop or get food. They also do a wellness check on everyone every day to make sure they haven’t fallen or had any health issues to prevent them from being able to go out and I think that’s important.
Commissioner Judy Klusman supported the designation of $204,476 for a new social work attorney and supervisor for the Department of Social Services. The new attorney will help reduce the department’s caseload, assist the senior attorney in providing legal advice to child protective services investigators, advise on Medicaid matters, and enable the department to prosecute and take civil action against people who fraudulently obtain benefits. The social work supervisor would help meet the “increasing demand” for reports of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation,” Department of Social Services Chairman Douglas Smith told commissioners.
The county will be reimbursed with state and federal funds for half of the attorney’s salary of $132,938 and will be reimbursed for most of the supervisor’s salary.
Commissioner Mike Caskey asked to allocate $45,000 to add a 2% salary increase to the base salary of county employees who are veterans or currently serving in the US military. The 2% wage supplement will match what the county pays college-educated employees.
“It’s an advantage they’ve earned,” he said.
The board has also designated $27,000 for a part-time Veterans Services staff position to become a full-time position effective Oct. 1.
The commissioners set aside $100,848 for two new carriers for the 911 division.
In addition to the positions added through contingency allowances, the budget creates five new positions at a cost of $508,818, including three for animal services, a planner and a building inspector.
Along with these allocations, the adopted budget includes $217,008 in undesignated emergency funds. This money will be reserved in case it is needed for an unforeseen reason.
In passing the budget, the council also approved new tax rates for several county fire departments. Taxes are levied on property owners in each fire district. The East Gold Hill Fire Department tax rate will increase from 8 cents to 9 cents for a $100 assessment. Liberty’s rate will drop from 5.37 cents to 8 cents per $100 of valuation. Union will increase its rate from 3.5 cents to 5.5 cents per $100 of valuation. Woodleaf’s rate will drop from 6.5 cents to 7.5 cents per $100 valuation.
In other meeting business:
• Commissioners approved the establishment of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Cemetery as a Rowan County Historic Landmark. Originally built in 1840, the property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
• The board renewed several ambulance franchises in Rowan County, which is required every three years. The county renewed the franchises of Med Trans Corporation, American TransMed, Rowan County Rescue Squad, Providence Ambulance and the Kannapolis Fire Department. In addition, the commissioners granted a new franchise to Reliance Medical Transport. The renewal period will be from July 1 to June 30, 2023.