Landis board cutting away at proposed budget

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
LANDIS ó The Board of Aldermen continued to hack away Tuesday at the proposed 2008-09 budget.
One of the largest cuts from the proposed spending plan was a decision to not fill any new positions in the police, administration and fire departments.
During the last budget session, the board questioned many of the Police Department’s requests.
In addition to not hiring any new officers ó which would reduce the proposed police budget by $41,548 ó the board suggested cutting $17,000 from a part-time detective position and doing away with a captain’s position.
Alderman Tony Hilton said he didn’t feel the captain position was needed. He recommended the town terminate the position effective in July. If the board got rid of the captain position, it would save $50,000, including salary and benefits.
The board also looked at the Police Department’s request for four new patrol cars at a cost of $182,411.
Chief Reggie Faggart said the department has five cars that have all gone beyond the state-recommended 85,000 miles. All the cars have more than 100,000 miles.
Alderman James Furr asked what happened to the policy of buying one new car each year.
“I thought the Expedition was counted as our new car for this year,” Furr said.
The town bought a sport-utility vehicle for the chief to drive about a year ago. The board faced the same problem in late 2006 and addressed the issue of new vehicles again at its 2007 retreat.
The board tentatively decided to buy two new cars at a cost of $40,000.
Alderman Roger Safrit wanted to know if the department could make do with just two new cars. Faggart said he could make it work.
The potential cuts totaled more than $260,000 from the original $1 million budget.
Hilton asked if the Administration Department could operate with fewer people. Town Administrator Reed Linn said it could not.
Mayor Dennis Brown said he couldn’t see eliminating a position, either.
“I don’t want to make it harder by knocking out a position,” Brown said.
Hilton said he just thought the board should look at everything.
The board cut $5,400 from the Fire Department’s budget.
Rowan County Emergency Medical Services rents a bay at the fire station and the money was to cover the cost of utilities.
Board members wondered aloud why the town Fire Department is paying for utilities if EMS is renting.
Linn, who is also the town’s fire chief said the department charges Emergency Services $150 a month for the rental.
The board discussed charging Rowan EMS a higher monthly rental, making the agency pay the utility bill, or both.
Brown said there is nowhere else EMS could rent space for only $150.
Linn said he thought the contract was up for renewal and the board considered rewriting the document.
Town Attorney Rick Locklear cautioned the board about letting EMS know well in advance of rent changes or a new contract.
No decisions made Tuesday were final and are subject to changes or adjustments.
The board recessed the meeting until Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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