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Landis aldermen unanimously pass budget

LANDIS — After an explanation of two budget items by interim Finance Officer Roger Hosey and hearing from two residents, the Landis Board of Aldermen wrapped up its budget negotiations with an unanimous vote of approval Monday night.

The 2019-20 fiscal year budget offers some relief on electric bills as all residents will have a flat rate of 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The property tax rate remains at 53 cents per $100 valuation.

Kenny Goodman asked the board to consider lowering the tax rate because some residents do not have utilities through Landis and the flat rate would not affect them.

“I believe the right thing to do is to lower the town’s tax rates as this will help all citizens of Landis, regardless of what utility company they use,” Goodman said.

Nadine Cherry said she does not think the town should add a police officer and increase police funding as there are often four officers standing around at Town Hall and on patrolling.

Interim Town Manager Kenny Isenhour said police salaries are funded by tax revenue and the school system pays for school resource officers.

Hosey said the budget includes a one-time cost of creating a juvenile holding area to be in compliance with a state law that goes into effect Dec. 1.

Cherry also said when comparing tax rates of other towns, the board should consider what’s included for taxpayers. Landis may boast the lowest tax rate in southern Rowan County, but the town does not provide the same services as neighboring China Grove, she said.

Hosey addressed two issues that residents have commented on — credit card fees and recycling.

The town is shifting its service for credit-card payment processing, which he said was causing Landis to lose $72,000 in credit card fees while also charging customers a fee as well. He said the new service will not cost the town more and will offer customers a way to lower the processing fee by paying with a debit card or bank account.

He also told the board the town is not recycling and has not been for more than a year.

“We’ve had the illusion of recycling,” Hosey said.

Because of contamination of recycling materials, the town’s recycling services were discontinued.

“The problem is if the mayor and his family are doing everything exactly right and you have eight out of 10 people on the street who do the same thing, and two people down at the end are throwing pizza boxes, clothes hangers and soft drink bottles with half the drink in them, everything you’ve taken the time to do is contaminated,” Hosey said. “Everything is going to the trash.”

As the board looked to approve the budget, Alderman Tony Corriher said the town is going in the right direction and recommended that the staff look into grants to provide additional financial support.

Mayor Mike Mahaley commended Hosey for his work on the budget.

“I don’t know if you really realize where we were at a year and a half ago,” Mahaley said. “You’ve done a tremendous job with this budget.”

The board also approved two budget amendments to close out the current fiscal year.

The town will transfer $265,000 from its water fund to its sewer fund to pay off a Salisbury-Rowan Utility sewer bill that at one point was “close to half a million,” according to Hosey. He expressed gratitude to Salisbury for offering to waive “a considerable amount of late fees.”

Alderman Bobby Brown said to offer city officials sincere thanks.

“I will do it as I hand them a check,” Hosey said.

The board also approved an amendment to the general fund to provide funding for administration, police and parks.

Hosey reminded residents that town offices will be closed July 1 to close the books of the 2018-19 fiscal year. The Board of Aldermen will meet again July 8.

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