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Granite Quarry adopts budget that keeps tax rate flat

GRANITE QUARRY — The Board of Aldermen last week adopted a modified budget that keeps the town’s tax rate the same.

The original recommended budget drafted by town administration included a 2.75-cent tax rate increase on the town’s existing 41.75-cent rate. However, the board decided it wanted to keep the rate, which is the third-lowest in the county, and directed Town Manager Larry Smith to adjust it accordingly.

The revision, which removed a new backhoe loader, took $72,900 in projected expenses out of the budget and included repair costs on the town’s current backhoe. The revised budget also increased a line item for tax collection services from $7,979 to $9,600.

Smith told the board last week he hadn’t received a response from Faith about an update to the joint police authority agreement between the towns. The Granite Quarry aldermen want to amend it so surplus department funds do not automatically roll over into a vehicles line item.

The department had about $100,000 in surplus funds at the end of the previous fiscal year. The difference was attributed to unfilled vacancies and the leftover funding was used to purchase two new patrol vehicles.

The police department has the largest budget out of all the town’s departments, with $751,991. Next is administration at $544,429.

There were no public comments to the board during the public hearing on the budget and no discussion by the board after the hearing was closed. The budget was adopted unanimously.

The $2.7 million budget includes new debt service for a water line extension to the Village at Granite subdivision and the town’s capital streets improvement plan.

The budget also implements results of a pay study and as part of the study includes a full-time town planner position.

Smith said the town plans to end this fiscal year with about a $90,000 surplus, which was attributed to a few factors, including vacancies, pandemic restrictions and cost cutting. Granite Quarry’s administration, like most nearby municipalities, expected the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce its tax revenues, but sales tax and property tax revenues came in about $100,000 and $18,000 higher than anticipated, respectively.

The fire department’s budget includes $36,000 to refurbish one of the department’s engines. The town also plans to purchase a half-ton truck for the town’s hybrid Public Works director and fire chief position. The new purchase is planned to free up another truck for emergency response.

The budget includes $135,517 in Powell Bill funds to maintain roads. Of that funding, $58,717 is debt service for the aforementioned streets improvement project and $65,000 will be dedicated to improvements on Brinkley and Cleo streets.

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