GARLAND — Town commissioners and local fire fighters are getting closer to a financial agreement for the department.
The Garland Fire Department is requesting more than $38,000 for services. But only $11,000 is included in the town’s upcoming 2016-2017 budget. According to figures, this is a 120 percent increase from the current amount of $5,000. It was previously reported that another $2,400 will be granted for utilities.
Mayor Winifred Murphy said a fire department budget was presented, but it was not detailed and did not explain actual needs. In March, Fire Chief Thomas Norris requested 10 cents tax per $100 valuation on personal and real estate property. She reported that 10 cents, based on a 100 percent collection rate would generate more than $27,000. But according to Town Attorney Michael Porter and other lawyers, Murphy said the town does not have the authority to approve the tax request.
Instead, she could be added to the property rate, which would make it go from 72 cents to 82 cents.
“But we can not appose a fire district tax as a municipality,” Murphy said.
In addition to the 83 cents for Sampson County taxes, she reported that residents would have to pay $1.65 and stressed how Garland is already one the highest municipalities in the county.
“A dollar and 65 cents is a lot for our citizens,” Murphy said.
Another request was to add $3,000 a year for rescue services and free water, sewer and garbage collection.
During a special meeting in May, Commissioner Ralph Smith presented an idea of not being financially tied to the department and letting Sampson County officials deal with them. Several months ago, Norris brought up how people in Garland are not paying the same amount of taxes and fire insurance as those living outside of town.
“To me this is a double standard,” Smith said. “The people that live across the street, outside of the city limits are paying 10 cents and the Garland citizens are not. The may want to go to the county.”
Norris arrived after initial talks, but made a brief statement about providing service to the community.
“Mayor Murphy, Board of Commissioners and to the taxpayers of Garland, first Garland Volunteer and Rescue Department, Incorporated, wants to assure you that under no circumstances would we not serve our community without fire protection,” Norris said. “As the fire department in this town, we are here for you. We’ve always been here for you and we’ll always be here for you.
“To the Mayor and Board of Commissioners, thank you for anything that you provide for the fire department this coming year in your budget,” Norris said.
Before the Norris and other fire fighters left, Murphy thanked the volunteers for their service.
The budget for the town in southern Sampson County is scheduled for approval during a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 23 at the municipality building, 190 S. Church Ave., Garland.
Garland Filming Video Saturday
Residents and business owners are filming a 2016 promotional video on Saturday, June 18. Filming is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and will replicate the 1950s.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.