Garland prepares to approve budget

By Chase Jordan - [email protected]

GARLAND — Town officials are ready to move forward with financial plans for the next budget period.

The proposed budget for 2018-2019 period beginning July 1 includes $888,426 in revenues and expenditures. It was presented by Town Clerk and Finance Officer Pam Cashwell during a Monday meeting. This amount is a decrease of more than $30,000 or 3.29 percent from the last budget. The amount is attributed to having less in the fund balance.

The tax rate will remain the same from last year at 72 cents per $100 dollars for assessed valuation of property. Tax revenues for property are based on a 94.5 percent collection rate and a valuation estimated at $26.92 million. Based on the valuation of 72 cents, this will bring in more than $164,000 in 2018 tax receivables and $18,723 in motor vehicle tax.

Garland’s proposed budget is made up from three funds. The general fund is $522,000 and water/sewer is $290,000. Powell Bill revenue and expenditures is more than $76,000 and will be used for street maintenance.

Under the general fund, some of the highlights include a $5,000 increase in legal expenses, bringing the total to $10,000 for a new lawyer. Former attorney Micheal Porter resigned in April after serving the town for several years.

Money for building maintenance and repairs expenses increased by $17,400 for the upcoming budget, bringing the total to about $65,000. A major project on the town’s radar is roof replacement for town hall.

Expenses for Garland’s Police Department is listed at more than $83,000. That amount decreased from the approval of $120,650 during the 2017-2018 total. A majority of the funds were used at start-up costs for a new department.

After ending a contract with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement protection, commissioners made a decision to start their own unit. Along the way, the process came with controversy regarding finances and decision making. One of the issues is Mayor Winifred Murphy’s call for more accountability from the department when it comes to decision making (see related story on today’s front page).

“I’m supportive of the Garland Police Department as long as there’s accountability and all departments are treated equitably,” Murphy said the following day.

Murphy added that the allocated funds for the department are a fair amount based on what was spent in the current budget. It was mentioned in previous meetings that Chief Ronald Matthews is allowed to drive the town’s car from home, which is outside the city limits of Garland and the Sampson County borderline.

“I just want them to look at the gas and the use of him driving the car and getting paid to come to work,” Murphy said.

Several changes were also made to the 2018-2019 fee schedule. Some of them include a re-connection fee increase of $35 to $50 and an after-hours re-connection increase from $50 to $100.

The town’s curbside garbage and recycling fee are set to increase by $1 for in-town residential, in-town commercial and out-of-town residential customers. Officials said the increase is necessary because of their contract provider upping their charges.

Commissioners unanimously approved the budget message presented Cashwell. A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, at Garland Town Hall, located at 190 S. Church, Ave., Garland.

Public hearing set for June 12

By Chase Jordan

[email protected]

Reach Chase Jordan @ 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan @ 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.