Landis considers tax rate increase

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 17, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — For the first time in more than five years, taxes in Landis could go up. The Board of Aldermen discussed a possible three cent tax rate increase at Monday’s budget session.
The meeting was an opportunity for the board to take a look at recommendations from the town staff about the town’s finances and make some recommendations of their own.
The town staff recommended a 2 cent tax rate increase, which would generate $46,000 and balance the 2012-13 budget. Right now the budget is only $37,594 from being balanced.
The town staff’s proposals to the board were for the general fund, which includes the administration, police, fire, recreation and streets departments. The other departments will be addressed in a future budget session.
Alderman Roger Safrit recommended a 3 cent tax rate increase. The board made no definite decisions or approvals.
If the board agreed with Safrit and approved a 3 cent rate increase it would generate $96,000 in revenue.
Mayor James Furr said it would be extremely wise to wait before approving a 3 cent tax increase.
Alderman Dennis Brown said it didn’t have to be decided at the first meeting.
“I’d like the opportunity to sit and review,” Brown said.
The town hasn’t increased taxes in more than five years.
The current tax rate is 40 cents per $100 of assessed value, which puts the town among some of the lowest rates in the county. The only other towns that have a lower tax rate than Landis are Cleveland, just under 32 cents and Rockwell at 32 cents.
If taxes were increased it would allow the town to fund projects in the Recreation Department including repairs and improvements to the Legion Building, the Pavilion, Lake Corriher Wilderness Area, the Community Center and Recreation Office.
Right now there are no capital improvements budgeted for the Recreation Department or the Street Department.
As of now the proposed budget includes no employee raises and with staff suggestions of continued furlough days.
The proposed budget does include replacement of turn out gear for the fire department and placing one part-time firefighter on the night shift.
Also included is a camera system for the police department, an all-terrain vehicle for the police to patrol the lake and to use during special events. Also bulletproof vests for the police officers.
Police Chief Bob Wood has said there is federal and state money available for vests, but it would likely require a partial match from the town.
Town Manager Reed Linn told the board the staff would also like to add two paid holidays for employees — Veterans Day and a third day at Christmas.
The board instructed Linn and the staff to look at what a 3 cent tax rate increase would do for the budget and report the figures at next week’s meeting.
Mayor Furr said he also wanted to know how much it would cost the average taxpayer as well as provide the board with the other department budgets.
The next budget planning session is 6 p.m., Monday, at town hall, 312 S. Main St.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.