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Landis board considers tiered water and sewer rates, shutting Recreation Department

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
LANDIS ó In its second budget session in a month, the Landis Board of Aldermen spent three hours Wednesday reviewing various departments and making potential cuts in an effort to balance the proposed 2008-09 budget.
The board discussed a possible tiered scale for its water and sewer rates.
The board initially looked at keeping the flat-rate fee, but instead contemplated a progression in price. For example, customers who consume up to 2,000 gallons of water would pay $6.50 per 1,000 gallons. Customers who consume 2,001 to 8,000 gallons of water would pay $7 per 1,000 gallons. The scale would end with anyone who consumes 18,001 and over paying $7.50 per 1,000 gallons.
Sewer customers who use up to 2,000 gallons would pay $8.50 per 1,000 gallons. Customers who use 2,001 to 8,000 gallons of sewer are proposed to pay $8.75. Any residents who use 18,001 and more would pay $8.95 per 1,000 gallons.
The rates would cover the increased cost handed down by Salisbury. The change comes after Salisbury proposed on Tuesday a 9.7 percent increase in its average residential water/sewer bill. Landis purchases a percentage of its water from Salisbury.
The tier is not set in stone and could change. The board seemed happy with a tier system, since all of its customers don’t consume the same amount of services. In years past, the town operated under a tiered system. Essentially, those who consume less would pay less.
If the tier scale were in effect, the town could potentially end up with a surplus of $19,000 for water and $89,000 for sewer.
Town Administrator Reed Linn said this is only a projection.
The board also discussed downsizing the Recreation Department.
Alderman Tony Hilton said the department is a wonderful thing to have, but the town can no longer afford to continue it.
The recreation budget is a projected $291,766. It includes items such as renovations to the Depot, food for the concessions, pool supplies, gas and advertising fees, to name a few.
Hilton recommended the board consider shutting down the Recreation Department by December.
The consensus was that the department wasn’t making nearly as much money as it was requesting in expenditures.
Alderman James Furr said it seemed that more out-of-towners were using many of the department’s facilities than the townspeople, including the pool and baseball fields.
Mayor Dennis Brown reminded the board that they’d discussed creating a greenway in past meetings. He explained that if they did away with the Recreation Department, “the chances of getting a greenway are not good.”
The board agreed that it would not make sense to close the pool and Depot and stop leasing the ball fields, but many of the programs might have to end.
But not all of the programs would end. The board supported special events, like the monthly senior socials.
Linn said the board should consider not entirely eliminating the department, but downsizing.
“It’s not completely going to go away,” he said.
After much conversation, the board made no final decision.
The board also:
– Examined the likelihood of splitting a proposed paving and concrete project at the Public Works maintenance facility.
Public Works Director Steve Rowland requested $108,007 for the asphalt and concrete work. Rowland said the price quote is a three-year-old estimate.
Alderman Craig Sloop suggested doing the paving now and pouring the concrete in the bays in the next budget year.
Alderman Roger Safrit said paving would be easier on the large equipment and trucks that come through the potholes.
“It would be less damage to the equipment and less we have to pay for,” he said.
– Took a closer look at some of the requests made by the Police Department.
Police Chief Reggie Faggart made several requests that he said were state mandates, like providing a separate interrogation room for investigators and a larger evidence room.
Another was replacing bullet-resistant vests. The state requires a vest be used no longer than five years. Faggart said the department received some vests through a grant, but they still need four more.
Board members said they didn’t feel that some expenses are necessary, like YMCA memberships for the department or a Spanish translator.
Faggart said he wasn’t sure if the board would approve the memberships, but he included it in the event they authorized it. He said his employees said they were interested in memberships, if the board approved them.
Brown asked if the department had to meet yearly physical standards. Faggart said not yet, but he suspects they will soon.
“Firefighters have to meet yearly physical standards and we don’t pay for that,” Brown said.
The board made no final decision.
As to a Spanish translator, the board said it felt if the previous board approved having town business conducted in English only, then there is no need for a translator?
No decision was made.
The board recessed its meeting until Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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