Recreation Department a casualty of Landis budget cuts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
LANDIS ó Looking to balance the town’s 2008-2009 budget, the Board of Aldermen agreed Monday to eliminate the town’s Recreation Department.
And the board directed every other department to cut a collective $278,636 from their spending requests to in an effort to balance the budget, which stands at just more than $2.6 million.
“I think we need to look at each department to cut again till it’s balanced,” Alderman Tony Hilton said Monday.
The board and staff estimated the town could finish out the budget year operating on $125,000 for the Recreation Department, but agreed the department should be eliminated after that.
Board members called eliminating the department a tough decision, but said it’s an expense the town can no longer afford.
Alderman Hilton was very vocal about there not being enough money to operate the department. He suggested if any civic, church or fraternal organizations wanted to step in, they could do so.
“I don’t think anyone is saying the programs don’t have any value. It shouldn’t be funded on the backs of taxpayers,” Hilton said.
Alderman James Furr called it the hardest decision he’s had to make since joining the board.
Recreation Director Julie Noblett disagreed with the board’s decision, saying the town was going in the wrong direction.
Noblett became visibly upset at the possibility of the board doing away with the program.
“It has to do with the quality of life,” she said.
Town staff looked at possibly increasing certain fees and cutting back on other expenses.
“What if we look at increasing fees. I’m looking at trying to save this,” Furr said.
One option was to increase the fees for adult softball, but that would only bring in about $720.
Mayor Pro Tem Craig Sloop, who presided over the meeting, said the Linn-Corriher Mill used to pay the costs of running the Recreation Department. When the mill was closed, he said, it was “thrown on the town.”
The board mentioned some of the same concerns with the Recreation Department that it addressed last week, including mostly out-of-towners using the facilities and the department not making as much as it spent.
Aldermen also revisited the idea of a tiered scale for the water and sewer rates.
Customers who use up to 3,000 gallons of water would pay $6.75 per 1,000 gallons. Those who use 3,001 to 8,000 gallons would pay $7 per 1,000 gallons. The scale would end with a customer who uses more than 18,001 paying $7.50 per 1,000 gallons.
These rates would net about $46,000.
Sewer customers who use up to 3,000 gallons would pay $8.50 per 1,000 gallons, which is a 25 cent reduction. Anyone who uses 3,001 to 8,000 gallons will pay $8.75 per 1,000 gallons. Customers using 18,001 gallons or more would pay $8.85.
These rates would bring in a surplus of $104,000.
On average, if someone uses 1,500 gallons a month, the bill should be $41.88 for both water and sewer.
The board recessed the meeting until 5:30 p.m. on May 29.