Rowland clerk floats idea of tax increase

By Bob Shiles -

David Townsend David Townsend

ROWLAND — Rowland residents who own property could have to pay more taxes during the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Town Clerk David Townsend told the town Board of Commissioners on Tuesday during its regular monthly meeting that in order to keep the town financially sound a boost in the tax rate of 3 to 5 cents is needed. Rowland’s current property tax rate is 79 cents for each $100 of property value, meaning the owner of a $100,000 home pays $790 in taxes a year.

According to Townsend, an additional penny on the tax rate will generate $4,900. The tax rate has been the same since 2012, he said.

Townsend said that the town’s water and sewer budgets are “holding their own” so he thinks there will be no reason to increase water and sewer rates.

At least one commissioner was not ready to commit to a higher rate.

“It’s premature to make any comments since we haven’t seen the whole budget,” said Marvin C. Shooter Jr., Rowland’s mayor pro tem. “We need to see what we can do first and what we can’t do first.”

The commissioners plan to hold at least two more budget work sessions, on Tuesday and May 24, before holding a public hearing tentatively scheduled for the next regular meeting of the board, which is June 13.

Townsend said a property tax increase of 3 to 5 cents is needed to cover raises for police officers and other town staff, pay skyrocketing insurance costs, and maintain aging utility systems. He said the town needs to start dedicating money every year for unexpected and emergency expenses, and there needs to be an investment of about $130,000 made for the purchase of a generator for the water plant.

Commissioner Paul Hunt, who over the past few years has been primarily responsible for penning the town’s budget, agreed with Townsend that there needs to be some money set aside every year to cover the cost of items the town may need.

“We all know if money is in the budget it’s going to be spent,” Hunt said. “If it’s in the bank, we are going to save it.”

Townsend said that the overall budget is looking better since he learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is going to reimburse the town for expenses incurred as a result of Hurricane Matthew in advance rather than after individual invoices have been submitted and approved for reimbursement.

“I’m feeling good about the budget now,” he said. “What FEMA was going to do about the money was making me nervous.”

Townsend said that to date Rowland has not received any reimbursement from FEMA for hurricane-related expenses.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Passed a resolution recognizing Jan Maynor, executive director of the Lumber River Council of Governments, for outstanding public service. Maynor, the Council of Government’s executive director since 2012, has worked with the agency for 30 years.

The Lumber River Council of Governments provides such services as zoning, long-range planning, annexation assistance, code enforcement and strategic planning to governing bodies. The proclamation will be presented to Maynor when Rowland hosts the Council of Governments meeting on June 22.

— Passed a proclamation recognizing the month of May as “Older Americans Awareness Month.” The proclamation urges “every resident to take time during the month to acknowledge older adults and the people who serve the as influential and vital parts of our community.”

— Were told by Townsend that National Tourism Day will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the state Welcome Center on Interstate 95. The town’s antique fire truck will be on display, as well as a booth set up to provide information about Rowland.

David Townsend David Townsend Townsend David Townsend

By Bob Shiles

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.

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