Garland OKs budget with no tax hike

Commissioners S.J. Smith and Mayor Pro Tem Haywood Johnson examine budget documents.

GARLAND — Residents throughout town can expect no increases in their taxes.

Following a public hearing, Garland Commissioners adopted the 2015-16 budget, which includes a 72 cents tax rate per $100 valuation of taxable property. The rates are based on an estimated valuation of $27,834,722 and a 93 percent rate of collection.

“There was no increase in taxes or for the cost of services for our citizens,” Mayor Winifred Murphy said in a statement to the Independent. “The approved budget is a very responsible and fiscally sound budget which should allow us to maintain the same level of services. Funds were allocated in capital outlay to prepare for any emergency expenses in our aging and neglected infrastructure system. The recent transition from the Waste Management to Waste Industries for solid waste and recyclables should help increase our fund balance for the town.”

The budget ordinance for 2015-16 includes more than $892,000 for revenues and expenditures for five funds. The sums included the general fund ($467,666); water/sewer ($305,950); technical assistance grant fund ($17,124); Powell Bill Fund ($41,874); and the North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity (N.C. STEP) Implementation Fund ($60,007).

Some of the chunks of money for the general fund include $166,000 in 2015 current taxes; local option sales tax refund ($117,000); and $22,881 in motor vehicle collection fees.

The town is also expecting to increase revenue and stabilize the general fund through a new contract with Waste Industries, effective July 1. The business will provide sanitation services for the town. According to a report provided by Garland officials, anticipated savings will be realized in the costs of providing services to residents at a lower customer rate.

“The addition of out-of-town customers along with an increased profit margin should increase the revenue and help further stabilize the General Fund,” Pamela Cashwell, clerk and finance officer, stated in her report.

Currently, the total budget for the water and sewer fund equals $277,800. The difference represents a 9.2 percent increase ($28,150) in the fund for 2015-16. A few of the reasons include purchasing a new truck for public works, a debt service payment of $13,230 for a water meter replacement project and sewer improvements.

For N.C. STEP, the revenues are now at $39,992. It’s purpose is to help towns facing economic hardships because of the economy. The total 2015-16 budget for that N.C. STEP fund is more than $60,000. Some of the listed expenditures include facade matching grants, quarterly events, renovation, downtown beautification and job training development.

The budget also includes a more than $46 per-month increase in the employees benefits package. Town officials previously indicated that changing that will “slightly increase the total out of pocket expenses, adding a dental benefit plan, maintaining the life insurance plan, and allowing the employee’s the option to elect vision and short term disability coverage at the their own expense by payroll deduction.”

During the meeting, commissioners also commend Cashwel’sl work in researching budget preparation and collaborating with others to complete it.