Tuesday, 10 May 2022 20:57

Rockingham Council approves annexation request, schedules budget workshop

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ROCKINGHAM — A parcel of land east of Clemmer Road will now fall under the city’s jurisdiction.


The Rockingham City Council on Tuesday approved a voluntary annexation request from Goshen Medical Center following a silent public hearing.

According to Assistant City Manager John Massey, Goshen plans to build an office on the nearly 52-acre property and wanted access to city utilities, specifically sewer. Massey told the council last month that water was already available.

Part of the property was already in the city limits and part of it fell in Hamlet’s ETJ, prior to the annexation approval.

“We do have the legal authority to annex into the ETJ of another city’s jurisdiction, that’s no problem,” Massey said.

Rockingham had already completed sewer work in the area several years ago for the Hampton Inn that is currently under construction, according to Massey. This will be an extension of that project, tying in to the pump station that was installed.

He added that the estimated cost of the project would be around $300,000.

In addition to the annexation, the approval included zoning a portion of the property as Highway Business.

Massey said the Planning Board unanimously recommended approving the request.

BUDGET BRIEF

Following the annexation approval, City Manager Monty Crump gave the council a quick breakdown of the budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

According to Crump, the budget looks similar to those in years past — aside from 2020 following the sales tax debacle — with no increase in property taxes or water fees.

In 2020, Rockingham was “forced” to raise the property tax from $0.48 to $0.58 per $100 valuation when the Richmond County Board of Commissioners changed the method of sales tax distribution just prior to budget season. That was the first hike in more than two decades.

Crump did say, however, that there would be a “small” increase in fees for garbage service.

The purpose was to make it more of a user fee to include it on the utility bills for renters, “instead of putting all the burden” on property owners.

The move is to also help make the Sanitation Department more self-supporting, Crump said: “That’s less revenue that has to come from other sources.”

According to the city manager, there will be less Fund Balance used to balance the budget this year.

City employees are slated to receive a 2% cost-of-living adjustment. Crump said he wishes it could be higher, due to the high costs associated with the recent inflation. He added that the city may provide a one-time payment around mid-year, depending on the financial situation.

To help offset the lack of a higher COLA, Crump said employees would have to pay less for health insurance. The council adopted a resolution to join the Municipal Insurance Trust of North Carolina.

Mayor John Hutchinson said that agreement was the result of a lot of work by the city administration.

“It looked like that was going to be a tremendous extra expense beyond what it has been in years past,”Hutchinson said. “And through a lot of hard work, a lot of negotiation, we actually brought that rate down and saved the employees a little bit of cost at the same time.”

The budget also includes $1.1 million in Capital Outlay expenditures, fully funds requests from Discovery Place Kids and other nonprofits and keeps all levels of city services as they are.

Crump said the budget “hopefully” is enough to cover increasing costs of supplies and equipment.

(Note: The RO has not yet obtained a copy of the budget.)

Council members took several minutes of working through scheduling conflicts for the annual budget workshop before deciding on May 24. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the June 14 City Council meeting.

The mayor also read aloud proclamations recognizing Municipal Clerks Week and Memorial Day. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 21:03