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Landis passes budget

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — The Board of Aldermen passed its 2017-18 budget Thursday night with no opposition.

The $11.7 million budget contains no increases in taxes, fees or rates for the upcoming fiscal year — though Town Manager Reed Linn pointed out that several departments will spend more because of a projected increase in revenue. Reed said at the beginning of budget season that Mayor Mike Mahaley had requested no increases.

“And that’s what we’ve done. Everything’s the same as it was last year,” Linn said.

The current tax rate is 48 cents per $100 — the same it has been for nearly five years.

One of the biggest budget expenditures comes from one of the largest departments, the police force. The Police Department plans to keep down maintenance and repair costs by removing its seven worst vehicles from service. Linn said one of the vehicles is more than 10 years old and has more than 175,000 miles.

Instead, the department will purchase seven new vehicles, financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The loan has a 3.25 percent interest rate, Linn said.

“In essence, we’ll be buying one car a year for the next seven years, except we’re buying all seven cars at one time,” Linn said.

The police budget for the next fiscal year comes out to $928,094.

The USDA is also providing funding for water and sewer departments to purchase a new jet vacuum. Linn said the current machine is about 30 years old “and it has seen its day.”

A new jet vac would allow the Public Works Department to jet-clean sewer lines, water and stormwater systems, and storm drains. During power outages, the machine will be able to pump out lift stations — a job the town currently has to contract for. Linn said the estimated cost of the machine is between $350,000 and $360,000 and follows a similar payment plan as the police cars.

“So in seven years, everything will be paid off,” he said.

The stormwater fund is budgeting to pay for the replacement of a drain off West Rice Street. The drain, which runs between two homes and under someone’s backyard, has collapsed, forming a sinkhole. Linn said he “would hate to guess” at the price of the repair.

“We haven’t gotten prices on that yet, but I feel that’s going to be a fairly expensive project for stormwater,” he said.

The town is considering contractors for the job.

No town employees received adjustments or raises in the new budget.

“We’re pretty much stable as we were last year,” Linn said.

There were no questions from the town board. Only four residents attended the meeting, and only two spoke during the budget hearing held directly after the workshop.

Bobby Brown said the town had done “a wonderful job” on the budget but asked if there was any program to repave town-maintained roads.

“They are horrible in some areas,” he said.

Brown also asked if there was any money set aside to do something with the Landis Pavilion, which has been in a state of disrepair for several years.

“You either need to fix it up or tear it down and sell the property,” he said.

Mahaley responded that repaving roads is a top priority for the town, but that it is “a big-ticket item” that would require a long-term investment.

“We’re gonna have to borrow money to pave these streets, because we won’t pave one if we don’t,” he said.

The pavilion, he said, is on the docket for the 2018-19 budget — either to be repaired or removed. Linn added the parks and recreation budget does have some money for repairs, and it might be possible to “put a couple Band-Aids on the building” before then.

Resident Nadine Cherry asked for clarification on several budget line items, and then the budget was put up for a vote. It was unanimously approved.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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