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Public hearing tonight on budget

Lincoln County residents can tell commissioners what they think about the proposed 2004-05 budget at a public hearing tonight.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Room in the James W. Warren Citizens Center.
After the hearing, commissioners could choose to adopt the budget ordinance or make additional changes.
The total budget, after hours and hours of tweaking and refining, equals about $92.6 million with a general fund of $72.65 million. The general fund is about $8,103,769 more than last year.
The budget holds the property tax rate at 62 cents per $100 valuation. But residents who saw their property values increase following the 2004 revaluation will also see their tax bill rise.
Employees at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office — including the Communications Center, Animal Control and the county jail — will receive a 7.5 percent raise. All other county employees will get a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment. Both of those items were initially cut from the county manager’s proposed budget, but added back by commissioners during one of their work sessions.
Commissioners approved current expense funding for Lincoln County Schools in the amount of $12.4 million, an increase of $839,000 or 7.2 percent over last year. For capital outlay, the district will receive $940,000.
The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Recreation Department will get a new employee at the East Lincoln Community Center, and two new staff members will be added at the Lincoln County Health Department. The board approved an additional $7,000 for the Lincoln County Historical Association to fund part of the salary for a new staff member to help with the Museum of History’s coming move and to offer increased hours.
The Lincoln Economic Development Association will get its requested $272,000. Commissioners Carrol Mitchem, James “Buddy” Funderburk and Tom Anderson also voted to give LEDA an additional $25,000 to go toward more marketing efforts. Another $278,300 is designated for capital improvement projects.
In the East Lincoln Sewer District, the sewer tax was lowered to 13 cents per $100 valuation. Both water rates and sewer use rates remain unchanged.
In other business, commissioners:
· Could vote on several hotly contested rezoning applications, including the 325-lot Paradise Lakes development. They’ll also consider a request from Waterside Crossing Residential LLC for a 100-lot development and two applications from B.R. Lee Industries, or Lee-Boy, to rezone land to an industrial district.
· Hear about foreclosure procedures and freezing bank accounts.
by Alice Smith

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