ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (June 19, 2019) – The Alexander County Board of Commissioners adopted the 2019-2020 county budget at the June 17th meeting. A public hearing was held on June 3rd to allow input on the proposed budget. County Manager Rick French presented the proposed budget to commissioners at the May 20th meeting. The board also held a work session on May 30th.
The General Fund totals $41,983,958, which includes a fund balance appropriation of $1,844,636.
There is no property tax increase. Fire district tax rates increased slightly in all eight districts, and will now average 6.06 cents per $100 valuation.
“The fire taxes are minimal for the services we receive from our volunteer fire departments,” said Commissioner Larry Yoder.
In addition, the City of Hickory will increase water and sewer rates by 3.75 percent and Alexander County will increase its monthly sewer surcharge to approximately $16 per month.
The budget also includes a number of fee increases for fire marshal permits and inspections, building permits and inspections, and zoning fees which will bring Alexander County’s fees more in line with neighboring counties while not negatively affecting future development.
Funding for the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office, which also includes detention and 911 communications, totals $7,262,397 plus an additional $831,433 for debt payments for the law enforcement and detention center. Minimum pay for deputies will increase from $31,534 to $33,959 per year and for detention officers from $27,872 to $30,014. Part-time pay will also increase from $11.82 per hour to $14.08 per hour.
The budget also includes the funding of four full-time firefighter positions, with additional incentives to the volunteer fire departments and rescue squad, for a total of $147,000.
Other items in the budget include a major water line project, the Bethlehem sewer project, as well as $150,000 in improvements at Dusty Ridge Park and Wittenburg Access Area and $100,000 for utility pole replacement at East Alexander Park and Bethlehem Park.
The budget includes a $6,800,000 allocation for Alexander County Schools.
Jeff Peal, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners, said he appreciates the hard work of the board’s finance committee, the county manager, the finance department, and department heads.
“I believe we’ve done a pretty good job of stretching dollars with this budget. It doesn’t give the departments everything they wanted or needed, but tough decisions must be made as we strive to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Peal stated.
In other business:
• Jon Pilkenton, Planning Director, presented a rezoning case to commissioners. The rezoning request comes from Jason Absher, who wishes to rezone a 3.08-acre parcel from RA-20 (residential/agricultural) to H-C (highway/commercial) with plans of opening a business to store wrecked vehicles for his wrecker service. The parcel is located on Hwy. 16 South near Fairground Road. The planning and zoning commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request. Pilkenton noted that there is vegetative buffer on three sides of the property, and the owner plans to construct a fence with an opaque covering to minimize viewing from the roadway. Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning request.
• Emergency Services Director Russell Greene presented a storm damage update regarding the recent flooding which occurred on June 7-9. Alexander County was placed under a “State of Emergency” on Sunday morning, June 9. Greene expressed his appreciation to the many volunteers, county staff, and other agencies who provided significant services during a difficult time in Alexander County. Greene said the unprecedented rainfall (approximately 12-14 inches) caused downed trees and power lines, flooding, damaged roadways and driveways, and damage to personal property. Currently, portions of six state roads remain closed for the next few weeks as the DOT makes repairs. Approximately 80 private properties have sustained damage, mostly driveways and culvert failures.
The next meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Monday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. in room #103 at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education. Commission meetings are recorded and available for viewing on the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. The meetings may also be viewed on the Alexander County Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192.