Cleveland could lose funding from state

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 2, 2013

CLEVELAND— The Town of Cleveland could lose up to $96,000 in state funding in its next budget, and it might have to wait until June to find out how much.
At Monday’s meeting of the Cleveland Town Board of Commissioners, board member Travis Summitt said he raised concerns about the expired funding during a recent meeting between state legislators and municipal leaders.
In 2002, the N.C. General Assembly levied a half-percent local option sales tax, while repealing local reimbursements for the inventory tax and other taxes.
But for some municipalities, like Cleveland and Salisbury, the new sales tax revenue didn’t make up for the repealed reimbursements. The state agreed to make “hold harmless” payments to these towns, but that agreement expired in August 2012.
“There is a bill to start this year at the full amount, and then tier it off at four years,” Summitt said. Cleveland received $95,612 this year.
Town officials said they would have to balance the budget — which totals several hundred thousand dollars — as if that hold harmless money will be completely gone in 2013-14.
In January, auditors praised the town for holding down its expenses as revenues rose. At the time, the town had $2.9 million in its fund balance, which it can use to meet unexpected needs.
During a short budget discussion Monday night, commissioners were asked to name items they’d like to see in the budget if the town can afford them.
Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel said Cleveland might want to plan for upgrades to the police department’s radios.
“Radios are always going to be an issue,” he said. “We get a brand new model, and then three years later, they’re saying they’re outdated and we’re going to have to bring in all new radios.”
Gabriel said he’d also like to buy some new equipment for the town park. He didn’t know a price but gave a range of $10,000 to $15,000.
For the past few months, commissioners have been talking about buying a computer-controlled LED sign for the Cleveland town hall.
But Summitt said that when he researched the options he found that even a one-sided sign could cost as much as $11,000, including $3,700 for installation.
“I was unaware of what it cost,” Gabriel said when he heard those figures. “I would not spend $11,000 on it. I thought it would be a little cheaper than that”
The board agreed to put that idea aside for now, but also to keep an eye out for other options.
Due to a schedule conflict, Commissioner Mary Frank Fleming-Adkins was not present at Monday’s meeting.

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.