ROCKINGHAM — Good news for residents and city employees: Taxes aren’t going up and employees are getting a raise.
The Rockingham City Council unanimously approved a $16.7-million budget for fiscal year 2014-15 at its monthly meeting Tuesday night.
Prior to the approval, the council held a short public hearing to discuss the budget, but there was no opposition.
City leaders said the budget was able to be balanced without an increase in taxes for residents and still provide employees with a 3 percent raise. Mayor Steve Morris added that there would also be no fee increases.
“We’re very conservative with our budgeting process from year to year,” said Monty Crump, city manager.
The largest expenditures for the city are the police department ($2,692,614), fire department ($1,201,610) and sanitation ($1,224,445.)
The council also unanimously approved a lease purchasing agreement with BB&T for the purchase of a new fire truck. The city will finance the truck for a period of five years at a cost of $272,121, with an interest rate of 1.97 percent.
There was a slightly heated moment during the meeting when the floor was opened up for discussion on a proposed change to the zoning ordinance between North Lee Street and the Pee Dee lake bed.
David Browder spoke in opposition because land that has been in his family for 50 years will be affected. He accused the city of depriving his family of the right of stewardship of the land and said the city prefers to “walk on people instead of work with people.”
He also offered to sell the property to the city at $55,000 an acre, as long as the entire ecosystem would remain intact.
Councilman Bennett Deane objected to the accusation of the city being “heavy-handed” and made a motion for the change to be approved, which was unanimously voted up.
Before he left, Browder said, “We’re willing to do it voluntarily, we don’t need to be coerced.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-997-3111, ext. 16.