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Landis approves 2020-21 budget that looks to be step in ‘right direction’

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — The Landis Board of Aldermen on Monday approved the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget, which doesn’t increase the tax, water, sewer or electrical rates.

The proposed budget totals $12.7 million, which is a decrease of 9.28% from the current fiscal year. General fund revenues were proposed to be at $3.88 million, which is down 16.5%, due to COVID-19 and a transfer to the electric fund. Interim Town Manager Leonard Barefoot said during the May 18 meeting that he expects a decrease in expenditures compared to the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which had a paving project and appropriation to contingency.

At the May 18 meeting, Finance Officer Diane Seaford said it’s expected for the current year’s revenues to exceed expectations and expenditures coming in under what was appropriated.

A decrease of 7.5% applies to the water fund in the 2020-21 budget, and revenue for the stormwater fund is reduced by 6.6%.

The electric fund revenues will decrease by 6.3%, but the fund received a rebate from Electricities for $709,000 in the current fiscal year.

Barefoot read to the board on Monday additional comments regarding the budget. He anticipates the unrestricted general fund balance will increase from 8% to 22% on June 30, crediting it as “one additional indication we are heading in the right direction.” Additionally, some additional changes were recommended for Planning, Zoning and Subdivision fees.

During the public comment period, one individual submitted comments, requesting that the vehicle registration fee be reduced to $15 per vehicle per year and that the property tax rate return to revenue-neutral due to the economic difficulty experienced from COVID-19. The individual noted those requests are “small moves that the town can afford.”

Another speaker who submitted comments requested the town adjust its fund balance to 16% for the year and reduce rates for residents of the town. The speaker added that the town can get to a higher fund balance gradually rather than immediately, as residents have paid high fees over the last decade as money was funnelled to other individuals.

One public speaker asked the board to consider allocating funds for outside recreational activities for children, such as the opportunity for “Little League.”
There were no actions taken regarding the public comments.
Also at the meeting, the board:
  • Approved hiring SEPI for a new Pavement Condition Survey using the Long Term Pavement Performance Methodology and development of a Capital Improvement Program. Town-maintained roads, which total approximately 22.95 miles, will be visited and evaluated for ratings. Then a pavement expenditure plan for the town will be developed, which will include maintenance and paving recommendations using the town’s available funds for street maintenance. The total lump sum cost for the contract is $28,000.
  • Approved an increase to Renewable Energy Rider Electric Rates. The town is required to meet its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards compliance obligations by the North Carolina General Assembly. Charges apply to all customer accounts receiving electric service from the town of Landis, with an increase of 77 cents to residential accounts, $4.19 for commercial accounts and $43.15 for industrial accounts.
  • Approved a resolution regarding utility payments under the governor’s Executive Order 124, which has been extended to July 29 under EO 142. The town declared if any customer has an outstanding balance at the time the executive order is lifted, a payment plan can be established.
  • Approval for a total of $56,700 to serve as a bonus for town employees, which is being rolled into employee salaries. The change will provide employees with consistency in earnings throughout the year and provide for appropriate retirement contributions.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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