Landis like many has multiple projects ahead, but little funding available

  • Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:14 p.m.

SALISBURY — Landis, like many surrounding municipalities, has quite an undertaking ahead this fiscal year with multiple projects and little available funding. The board and town department heads met Saturday for the first budget planning retreat.

The board also received presentations from other service providers during the all-day retreat held at town hall. The biggest undertaking for all will be funding for the projects.

“The hardest part is finding where the money comes from,” said Mayor James Furr.

Town Manager Reed Linn informed the board about several upcoming projects and some proposed funding sources for the following:

• Fire Department

The department hopes to get seven sets of replacement turnout gear. The cost of each set is $3,000. Linn, who is also fire chief, told the board the department applied for several grants to buy the gear, including the North Carolina State Fire Marshal’s Grant and a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. On one of the grants, Landis applied in conjunction with seven other departments to get a better chance at receiving it.

• Police Department

The department applied for a grant with the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program for an added officer. If awarded, the grant would pay for another vehicle and all equipment. Police Capt. Roger Hosey told the board the department should know by late April or mid-May if the police department received the grant.

Alderman Tony Hilton asked how many years the grant covers, and Hosey said the grant is pro-rated to essentially cover three years. The first year, the grant will cover 80 percent, the second year it will cover 75 percent and then the third year 50 percent, he said.

The police also requested three more patrol cars at a cost of $40,000 each, That would cover equipment, striping and decals. The board made no promises about having money in the budget for vehicles.

The board made no commitments on any projects discussed Saturday.

• Streets

Linn said the town would continue to use Powell Bill funds, state street-aid, to resurface streets as the town’s consultants had recommended. The funds can only be used for maintaining, repairing or reconstructing local streets. It can also be used for bikeways and sidewalk construction and maintenance.

The Streets Department wants to get a USDA Rural Development grant to fund a $75,000 project that would put sidewalks from North Main Street, West Limits Street to a section of road near Food Lion on South Main Street. Alderman Hilton said it would be good if the department received the grant. He asked when the town could start on the project if it is awarded the grant. Linn said he didn’t know.

The Streets Department requested an F-450 flatbed truck to replace the current one, which is rusted, Linn said.

• Cultural and Parks

Town officials want to continue with the historic passive park it set out to create to fulfill the wish of longtime resident D.C. Linn.

The town applied for a PARTF (Parks and Recreation Trust Fund) grant but because the project did not involve “recreation” the town did not receive it.

Parks Director Andrew Morgan said later the town scored low on the grant criteria, which includes community input, whether the project will include some sort of recreation. Since the park isn’t recreational in nature the town ranked low in qualifying for the grant. Linn told the board the department would like to see private sources of funding. The property is in trust with the Foundation of the Carolinas. Linn said there were some parts the trust didn’t agree with, but did not go into detail as to what types of disagreements.

He said they believed they would stand a better chance at receiving a PARTF grant for the Lake Corriher Wilderness Area. The grant is for $800,000 and would require a match 50 percent from the town to be paid over a three-year period. The area is essentially for recreation. The town has already hosted numerous events at the wilderness area, including it’s successful annual mud run event. The town began developing the lake more than three years ago.

In the near future, the department wants to add boardwalks, piers, canoe/boat launches, cabins, shelters and picnic areas.

The parks department would like to move forward with plans to renovate the old hardware store also located downtown near the site of the passive park, North Central Avenue.

The plan is to turn the store into a community center or a multi-use facility. Two years ago, Town Engineer Mike Acquesta estimated the cost to convert the store at $1 million. The department expects to apply for funding through USDA Rural Development, low-interest loans and some grants.

Finance Officer Ginger Gibson, Linn and Morgan visited Asheboro where town officials are in the process of renovating a theater into a multi-use facility. Linn said Asheboro has created a wilderness area near Lake Lucas that is similar to what Landis is creating with the Lake Corriher Wilderness Area.

“It really is a nice thing they’ve got. It’s interesting they are doing what we’ve talked about doing,” Linn said.

• Lights

The department requested a demo bucket truck with a chipper bed. It also wants to buy a new chipper, replace a service truck and install automatic radio read meters.

The board received information from A.J. Molnar with Southeast Engineering. He told the board how the electrical conversion project is progressing. He said the staff completed a good bit of the conversion in 2011.

• Water/Sewer

The water project is continuing and upon completion, the sewer portion will begin, Acquesta said. He told the board Saturday the water project is under budget and the board could add some items to the project.

“You don’t want to give grant money back. We’ll see what we can do with that extra,” Acquesta said.

He said the project is under budget because the board took some items out of the project before it began and he expects some of the work the town had wanted to do could be done by the state railroad expansion project.

The reservoir dam washed out portions of a path used around the lake and it needs to be repaired.

Since the dam is still considered a water supply, Linn said it only makes sense that the state help with the costs to repair the area.

The town will continue repairing issues with its stormwater drainage issues throughout town. The town can use Powell Bill funds for the repairs.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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