Catawba approves budget with split vote

Catawba officials disagreed this week on a budget that cuts overall town fire department spending by more than 18 percent.

With a vote of 3-2, Catawba Town Council approved a $913,567 budget that maintains the town’s current tax rate of 48 cents per $100 of valuation and attempts to cut down on the use of town savings, or its fund balance.
Part of the effort includes retiring old debt and interest payments on a pick-up truck and a fire engine purchased in recent years. The town also shifted the fire department’s capital outlay budget to Catawba’s Capital Reserve Fund.

Those three non-operational changes eliminated about $43,000 from the fire department’s overall budget.

However, the department’s operational budget only decreased by about 3 percent, said Catawba Town Manager Brian Barnett.

“If you look at the budget as a whole, it looks like the fire department took the biggest hit. They were looking at close to a 19 percent decrease,” Barnett said. “But if you factor those hits back in, it’s only a 3 percent decrease in operations year to year.”

To read more of this story, pick up the weekend print edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.