By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — City council members today are scheduled to vote on the 2021-22 fiscal year budget and hold a public hearing to issue a permit for a new downtown child care center.
Council members will meet virtually at 6 p.m. The meeting will be streamed live at salisburync.gov/webcast and on the city’s Twitter account. Anyone who wishes to speak during the public comment period must sign up by 5 p.m. today by contacting City Clerk Kelly Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-638-5233.
City Manager Lane Bailey is proposing a $47 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins July 1, including approximately $1.5 million in savings from the current fiscal year. The budget includes 6.5% pay increases for sworn police officers and 5% to 15% raises for certain public works positions. A total of $258,000 is dedicated for “special projects” to further evaluate recruiting and retention issues among other departments. An additional $130,189 from the general fund will cover a 1% increase in the city’s match to all employees’ 401(k) accounts, except for sworn officers. The increase lifts the match from 3% to 4%, which amounts to $4,622 in the stormwater fund, $47,145 in the water and sewer fund and $5,071 in the transit fund.
If passed as currently proposed, the budget will not require a property tax rate increase, staying at 71.96 cents per $100 in property valuation. It will include a 2% increase in water and sewer prices and a $1.15 increase in residential curbside collection for one waste container and one recycling container. A proposed 8-cent increase to stormwater fees is intended to offset inflation and fund stormwater projects aimed at reducing flooding and pollution in compliance with the existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Bailey has proposed $500,000 be pulled from the general fund each fiscal year after 2021-22 to help offset the city’s fiber-optic network debt and pay it off more quickly. With a faster debt payoff, Bailey estimates the city will save up to $4 million and reduce debt by about 20%, which will free up more money in future fiscal years.
Also at Monday’s meeting, a public hearing will be held regarding a request from Lamont Savage, a local real estate agent and CEO/founder of Learning 2 Achieve Success Academy on Willow Road, for a special use permit to operate a 2,400-square-foot child care center at 612 West Innes St., about three blocks from the city’s officially designated downtown. The permit is for a .36-acre parcel in a district zoned “residential mixed use.”
The center would be named Legacy School and provide before- and after-school child care for children in grades 1-6. Savage said some programs would also eventually be available for middle and high schoolers, providing a “more legacy-focused approach in equipping children with the life skills needed to be a success in the world.” The curriculum will touch on healthy habits, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and lifestyle.
Other items on the agenda:
• Council members will revisit a conversation with City Attorney Graham Corriher regarding the adoption of a city nondiscrimination ordinance. Such an ordinance was among the goals set for 2021 during the council’s retreat in February. Council members began discussing the ordinance during the March 2nd meeting before directing Corriher to gather more information.
• Included in the consent agenda are two amendments to the 2020-21 fiscal year budget: $27,452 in grants and donations to the Public Art Committee and $22,348 in grants and donations for the Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Project. A donation of $5,000 from the Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation was granted to both entities along with $3,000 from St. Luke’s Foundation for the Public Art Committee. A donation totaling $8,712 from the Rowan Arts Council and $8,750 from local colleges, businesses and sponsors were dedicated to the Dixonville project.
• City staff will present the third quarter financial report.
• Council members will consider an ordinance amending the city code to restrict parking at all times on the north side of the 1000 block of Holmes Avenue.
• Council members will consider approving the use of a right-of-way in the 100 block of West Council Street for work being performed at 132 N. Main St. until July 9 to repair the basement access hatch. Additionally, a request for approving the right-of-way in the 100 block of North Church Street for work being performed at 200 W. Innes St. until July 9 is also on the consent agenda.
• Council members will consider appointments to open seats on the city’s boards and commissions. Currently, two seats are open on the Human Relations Council, while two regular seats and one extra-territorial jurisdiction seat is open on the Planning Board.
• Mayor Karen Alexander will proclaim the month of June as Salisbury Pride Month. Additionally, June 14 is proclaimed the U.S. Army’s 246th birthday, while June 19 is Juneteenth.