GARLAND — With budget deadlines a few months away, local leaders are working on plans to spend money for town operations.
Town Clerk and Finance Officer Pamela Cashwell met with Garland Commissioners and presented preliminary numbers during a Tuesday night session.
“I’ve started working on it and in no way, shape or form am I saying this is the way it has to be,” she said. “But I got to start somewhere.”
By law, Cashwell said she’s required to have a detailed budget to commissioners by early June. Next, the budget will be sent to state officials for final approval. The 2017-18 fiscal year begins July 1 and continues through June 30, 2018.
Last summer, commissioners approved a budget of more than $800,000 for the 2016-17 fiscal year. It was previously reported that drastic changes are not expected for the new year.
But at the moment, officials are uncertain about finalizing a budget because of issues. One of them includes the Garland Volunteer Fire Department, which is seeking $25,000 — an increase from the previously requested $11,000. Commissioners said they’re unable to meet the demand because the town can’t afford it.
As a result, the department submitted a letter stating that their contract will come to an end if their request is not granted. A meeting was held to negotiate or come to an agreement. The meeting involved members of the fire department, attorneys and officials from Garland and Sampson County. The department was supposed to submit a budget request to the town, but it was not available Tuesday night. The matter was tabled and will be presented at a future meeting.
Garland is also in the process of starting a police department and finding a chief to run it. The decision occurred when commissioners ended a contract with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office in June 2016 after the department requested $113,000. That request included an increase of $25,000.
Next, Bobby Kinlaw, former police chief of Elizabethtown, was hired to assist with the start-up process, which may cost the town about between $90,000 and $100,000.
The budget will also go towards needs for streets, parks, recreation and the cemetery. The water-sewer fund is $293,000.
Funding for the state’s Powell Bill Program is more than $64,000. Money from this source is used for resurfacing streets or other maintenance repairs.
“Until we have paved streets, that we currently don’t have paved, that number is not going to increase,” Cashwell said. “Typically the only way we get funding is if we pave dirt streets.”
Commissioner Judy Smith reported that some areas will be reported in the future for the paving projects. One of the mentioned places involved areas near Church Street and White Lake Avenue. Mayor Winifred Murphy said it’ll be helpful if at least one area was considered for future improvements.
“I can bring these things to the table and we can decide what we can do with the money that we got,” Smith said.
More details regarding the budget will be presented at upcoming meetings.
“We’ll keep working on it until we know some exacts,” Cashwell said.