GARLAND — After facing several challenges with emergency services and funding matters, town officials are finally moving forward with their budget plans.
During a recent meeting, Garland commissioners approved an $903,320 budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, set to begin Saturday, July 1. The total amount is an increase of more than $85,000 (10.4 percent) in revenues and expenditures compared to 2016-17 spending plans which are ending soon. Some of the reasons for the increases include salaries, buildings and a water well rehabilitation project.
Commissioners began the budget process with sessions and meetings prior to the final decision with assistance from Town Clerk/Finance Officer Pam Cashwell.
“We’re at a point now where we hope that this budget ordinance is fiscally responsible for the upcoming fiscal year,” Mayor Winifred Murphy said.
The tax rate for residents is 72 cents per $100 valuation. This is expected to generate $186,222 under the general fund, which is $542,000. The general fund includes revenues from taxes,building an zoning permits and motor vehicle fees. Money from this fund will be used for several functions in town. One includes public buildings expenses which increased from $10,700 to $59,100 for upkeep and maintenance of aging buildings.
Expenses for the police department are $121,650. The town recently hired Ronald Matthews as the chief of the department. According to the budget, the total for salary and wages is $46,000. In 2016, commissioners made a decision to start a law enforcement unit after ending a contract with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department.
In March, the Garland Volunteer Fire Department requested more than $25,000 for the fiscal year. But following a conflict regarding funding, the department did not request money. This decision occurred after town officials wanted to have proof of the organization being a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, which allows for federal tax exemption. For the new budget, $7,000 has been put in contingency if commissioners wanted to make a donation to the fire department. It was recently reported that Garland will continue services for the town.
The total water and sewer fund is $297,000 and Powell Bill Fund, which is used for streets fund is $64,320.
Following the approval, Murphy said a lot of work went into finalizing the budget. She spoke about how she believes the fiscal actions approved from previous years.
“Pam was cleaning out her desk drawer today and we looked at a letter from August 2014,” Murphy said. “We got a nasty letter from the LGC (Local Government Commission of North Carolina) saying that we were not where we needed to be and they were threatening us (due to financial mismanagement).”
Since 2012, Murphy reported that town’s bank account has increased from $30,000 to more than $900,000.
“That’s through being fiscally responsible with the citizens’ and taxpayers’ money,” Murphy said. “We’re still not where we’re supposed to be, but we’re still able to repair streets and buildings and so forth. I thank the commissioners and the clerk for all of your hard work on this budget.”