City council passes budget with fee hike to account for inflation – Reuters

SALISBURY — City Council on Tuesday night approved a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that maintains the current property tax rate but increases several other fees to account for the rising cost of materials needed to maintain critical infrastructure and provide municipal services.

The balanced general fund budget of $50,631,540 reflects a 6.6% increase in expenditures over the current budget. In addition to the general fund, funds for water and sewer, transit, broadband, and stormwater make up the city’s overall budget totaling $93,381,414.

The property tax rate will remain at 71.96 cents per $100 of assessment.

“I appreciate everything the staff has done over the past few months to work on what I think is a very good budget, helping to advance the council’s priority,” City Manager Jim Greene Jr. said. That is) a very tight budget. Obviously, there are more needs than funds available to us. So, I really thank the staff for stretching those dollars and providing efficient services. »

The Board also commended the staff for developing the budget, in particular the Director of Finance, Wade Furches.

The current budget will end with a surplus of over $2 million which will be returned to the fund balance. The allocation of $2 million from the fund balance over the next fiscal year will help the City address some of the staffing challenges it faces and complete several major one-time capital projects, including sidewalk improvements.

The budget calls for a 4.2% increase in water and sewer rates. That would mean an increase of $2.49 per month for the average Salisbury-Rowan Utilities customer who uses 4,000 gallons per month. The additional funding generated by the increase will help cushion the blow of an 88% increase in water treatment chemical costs and 16% increase in electricity costs.

There will also be a 25-cent stormwater fee increase to offset inflation and stay in line with the city’s 15-year stormwater capital improvement plan. Increased stormwater fees would also provide funds for stormwater projects to reduce flooding and pollution to maintain compliance.

Most of the details had been worked out before the budget was formally approved Tuesday night, but council decided at the meeting to raise the municipal vehicle tax from $10 to $30, the maximum allowed by the state.

The increase in fees will generate an additional $240,000 for the Public Works Department. The vast majority of this funding will help the ministry keep pace with its current road resurfacing plan as the cost of materials has skyrocketed. Prices for asphalt materials are up 40% since last year, public works director Craig Powers told the council. Labor costs have also increased.

In the past, the city has budgeted about $500,000 which, combined with state funding, has paid for the resurfacing of about seven miles of lane per year. One lane mile, which is the unit of measurement used by the Department of Public Works, is equivalent to paving six city blocks two lanes wide.

The city has 346 miles of lanes. At current prices, the extra money generated from the municipal vehicle tax increase will help the city repave 8.99 miles of lane, or 2.75 more miles of lane than without the increase. Without the increase, the city could only repave 6.24 miles of track. And that is if inflation does not continue at its current rate.

“How much does your car alignment cost?” Mayor Karen Alexander asked rhetorically. “Because potholes are everywhere. It costs a lot more than $30. I’d rather pay $30 and have more streets fixed and filled than have to keep realigning my car or having a flat tire.

Mayor Pro Tem Tamara Sheffield said approving a budget with increased fees was not easy.

“Everyone knows I always struggle with the budget,” she said. “I struggle with fees, nickel plating and reducing water, sewage, whatever. It seems like every year is something.

However, Sheffield also said “I understand better why we have to do this” and added that the fee is necessary for the city to “go the distance for our citizens”.

The approved budget strengthens the Department of Parks and Recreation by providing funding for two new full-time recreation programmers and increased funding for recreation centers. Programs will include the restart of full-day summer camp and an after-school program as well as the continuation of current athletic and mentorship programs. The budget included $156,700 for events at Bell Tower Green, the city’s newest park.

The proposed budget uses about $4 million of the remaining $5.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for a number of projects. Parks and Recreation will receive $1.2 million for infrastructure needs, $1 million to replace or improve a civic center, $200,000 for a neighborhood revitalization program to support the program of existing housing, $650,000 for Main Street build-level design to position the city to apply for federal grant, and $243,198 for architectural fees to create construction documents for the fire station n ° 3.

Salisbury will continue to invest in Salisbury-Rowan Utilities. In the coming budget year, $355,000 is planned for the replacement of a generator at the Town Creek sewage treatment plant, $500,000 for the improvement of the capacity of the water main and $500,000 for the re-routing of the Town Creek access road, among other capital expenditures. SRU serves approximately 52,000 customers in Salisbury and other towns and areas in County Rowan

A total of $249,716 is planned for the city’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department and $45,000 for citywide training. Part of this funding will create a new position to support the city’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The full budget is available online at

In other meeting business:

• Council approved the request for a $75,000 grant for the reuse of state rural buildings which, if granted, will be paid to the company behind what is called “Project strong”. The business is an existing Rowan County business planning an expansion that would create 14 “well-paying” jobs over the next three years. The company plans to invest approximately $2.9 million in new construction and equipment to renovate a currently vacant building. According to a Rowan EDC model, the City of Salisbury would collect approximately $176,942 in new property tax revenue from the expansion over a 10-year period.

• Council approved the voluntary annexation and rezoning of 43 acres on Peach Orchard Road. The annexation and rezoning request came from the Sansone Group, a St. Louis-based real estate and development company. The company plans to build a 300,000 square foot industrial facility on the property, which includes three parcels owned by the same family.

• Council authorized the demolition of three structures: 318 Vanderford Street, 425 Messner Street, 625 Forney Street. The structures have been deemed vacant, derelict and dilapidated and pose certain risks to public safety.

• The Board approved the renewal of a contract with Strategics Consulting for federal lobbying services. Strategics also provides federal lobbying services to Rowan County. The approved contract will last two years at $60,000 per year. The renewal is at a higher rate than the $48,000 per year the city currently pays Strategics.

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