Rowan Co. commissioners sparring over budget
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SALISBURY -- Rowan County Commissioners met for almost four hours at Monday night's meeting, but still could not agree on the $128 million budget.
It's the first time in decades Rowan County Commissioners haven't been able to pass the budget.
County Manager, Gary Page said it's not necessarily troubling and may even be a sign of economic recovery for the county.
"For the past four years we've only been able to cut, reorganize, riff, cut benefits," said Page. He said this year it's all about options: $1.9 million from property taxes and $600,000 from the sales tax contributed to $3 million in additional revenue.
"How much do we fund schools, for the first time in four years we'll have pay raises for our employees, we've had an ongoing struggle with how to properly fund the rescue squad," said Page.
He said the proposal to cut $50,000 from $400,000 of rescue squad funding brought the meeting to a halt.
"Are they truly in dire straights? Do they have extra money? If we did cut them $50,000 this year I'm sure it wouldn't put them out of business," said Page.
Commissioners Carl Ford and Jim Sides argued that money would be better spent funding an EMS station in western Rowan County where there's no station. That could cost up to $1 million.
Commissioners Jon Barber and Ford voted to cut the property 62.25-cent tax rate by a quarter-cent.
Other commissioners disagreed to avoid raising them in the future.
"The way you do that is by not cutting, you start that up and down, you cut taxes then the next year things change and you have to go back up," said Page.
Commissioners meet again early Monday. If they can't approve a budget then, they'll be looking at a 30-day interim budget.
That interim budget would be around $10.6 million.
The commissioners have until midnight June 30 to approve the budget.