It wasn’t unanimous approval, but the Lincoln County 2021-2022 budget is now in the books. The public hearing on the budget, which includes a two cents tax increase, was held at the commissioner’s meeting held Monday. The current tax rate is .599 (2021), the new tax rate will be .619 (2022). Commissioners Bud Cesena and Carrol Mitchem voted against the budget.
“I greatly appreciate all the work that went into this budget,” Cesena said. “I’m not in favor of the general budget, not because Kelly and the staff haven’t done a great job as they have. I believe that they should take the additional $2 million out of fund balance. That’s as simple as I can make it.“
Mitchem noted that most people knew where he stood on a tax increase.
“I think the money could be taken out of the fund balance and we wouldn’t have to have this tax increase,” he said. “I’m going to vote against it because I don’t think the tax needs to be raised when the revaluation coming up. Doing a budget is a lot of work, it’s tiresome and worrisome, everyone has their own agenda, and they want money. If you want more, somebody’s going to have to pay for it. You know whose pocket it’s going to come out of, mine and yours. Everybody expects too much out of local government. For those of you who think you can do a better job, there’ll be an election for county commissioners in December. Put your name on the ballot.”
Commissioner Milton Sigmon pointed out that some media sources had reported that surrounding counties weren’t raising their tax rates, but Lincoln County is lagging behind other counties in revenue from industry and without raising taxes to prepare for potential industry, the county couldn’t remain competitive.
Anita McCall referenced all the comments commissioners have received on the budget telling the audience that they’ve worked for many, many hours on the budget and that because she lived in Lincolnton, she paid both city and county taxes.
“I’m not in favor of raising taxes,” she said. “But I’m also a logical person and I realize that with everything, there’s a small amount of inflation as well as we have additional services going to both East and West Lincoln to make things better.”
Referencing the tax decrease two budget years ago (the proposed budget at the time, included and expected to be set at .611 property tax rate but the board decided during the budget public hearing to reduce it to .599) McCall said that this was not a tax increase, but leveling back out to the way the county was. She also referenced if more business came into Lincoln County, it’d take the burden off homeowners and that the county lost a large business park to Catawba County because Lincoln County didn’t have land available.
Three community members, all Denver residents, spoke against the budget.
The solid waste portion of the budget was voted on separately for transparency and approved unanimously. The current availability fee is $99 and will increase to $115 for 2022.
Also at the meeting, the commissioners and the Lincoln County Planning Board heard several zoning cases. The matter that received the most attention was the request of PSA Denver, LLC to rezone property located at 1417 North N.C. 16 Business, the former Denver Defense building, to permit a 12,000-square-foot facility for a metal forging operation and a 5,200-square-foot expansion of an existing facility that includes a retail operation and shooting range.
Concern was expressed over noise, emissions and potential criminal activity due to the products that will be manufactured there and environmental damage.
An application from Teramore Development, LLC to rezone 1.9 acres from Neighborhood Business and Residential Suburban to Conditional Zoning General Business to permit a 10,640-square-foot Dollar General store also received some negative comments from residents during the public hearing including the need for another Dollar General store within a few miles of the proposed new one and the potential to put other local stores out of business. One resident spoke in favor of it. The property is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of N.C. 27 and Hallman Mill Road in North Brook Township.
Also heard was a request from Scott Gizowski to rezone one acre from Rural Residential to Light Industrial. The property is located on the east side of Sam Houser Road, about 250 feet south of its intersection with Henry Road in North Brook Township. The applicant owns a company, Insight Archery, that manufactures and sells inserts for arrows. In 2016, the applicant successfully applied to have 5.7 acres located on the west side of Sam Houser Road rezoned from R-R to I-L for a future manufacturing facility. Now he’s decided to both expand and build the facility on the east side of the road.
A community member who owns property across from where the new facility would be built saying that it would decrease his property value and that it would be difficult to sell.
A second application from Scott Gizowski was heard to rezone 5.7 acres from Light Industrial to Rural Residential. The property, part of an 18.3-acre tract, is located on the west side of Sam Houser Road south of its intersection with Henry Road in North Brook Township.
Sarah Chambers is requesting to rezone a 2.8-acre tract from Residential-Single Family to Rural Residential. The property is located on the south side of Flay Road about 2,100 feet west of its intersection with Bess Chapel Church Road in North Brook Township.
These matters will be voted on by the commissioners at their next meeting which will be held on June 21.
An application from Gregory Dellinger for a special use permit to build a residential accessory structure, a 400-square-foot garage, in front of the front building line of a house on a lot adjacent to Lake Norman was approved. The 3.6-acre parcel is located at 1273 Nixon Heights Lane in Catawba Springs Township.
Commissioners approved the application of Lisa Abernethy for a special use permit to place a singlewide manufactured home in the Residential Suburban district. The proposed 0.75-acre site, part of a 13.3-acre tract, is located about 750 feet east of Mack Ballard Road and 150 feet south of Botany Trail in Ironton Township.
The application of Teramore Development, LLC for a special use permit to exceed 12% impervious surface area in the Indian Creek WS-II Protected Area as a special nonresidential intensity allocation under the 10/70 option was also approved. The applicant is proposing to develop a 1.9- acre site for a retail store, with an impervious surface area of approximately 47%. The property is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of N.C. 27 and Hallman Mill Road in North Brook Township.
In other business, a memorandum of understanding between Lincoln County Board of Education and the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners agreeing that for the next three years, the school board shall request no more than, and the county shall appropriate the sum of, $19,387,257 to the district's local current expense fund. It also set forth the understanding that beginning on July 1 (for fiscal year 2022), and for two successive fiscal years thereafter, the school board shall request no more than, and the county shall appropriate the sum of $1,729,091 to the district's capital outlay fund. Finally, should there be a catastrophic event, the school board may request that the county increase the amounts. This agreement is nonbinding upon future boards and that the intent of the agreement is to set out funding requests and appropriations for the next three years to responsibly plan and prepare for the expenditure of local tax revenue. Cesena voted against the memorandum of understanding stating that he had no problem with the money but thought that three years was too long a period of time because of the potential for increased or decreased enrollment numbers.
The board approved the purchase of a sewer jetter trailer for $67,615 which was under budget.
John Henry provided an update on Westwinds Park. The lowest bid has come in at $205,400 over budget. The board voted to accept the $805,400 bid even though it was over budget.