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Landis approves revised agreement with county for property tax collection

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — Aldermen on Monday approved an interlocal agreement with the county that would allow county staff to withhold 1.5% of all property tax revenue collected from each municipality by 2026 rather than using a prorated rate each year.

The county collects property taxes each year on behalf of all municipalities. Historically, the county has charged a prorated collection fee based on the number of bills sent out throughout the county. But due to the “cumbersome” work of determining that rate, Interim Town Manager Leonard Barefoot said the county Finance Department surveyed what surrounding counties charge and determined 1.5% was a fair rate.

Rowan County commissioners approved the interlocal agreement in September, and it received unanimous support among Landis aldermen on Monday.

Starting next fiscal year, 0.75% of what’s collected would be withheld from each municipality’s revenue. Then, the rate will increase by 0.15% annually until reaching the 1.5% rate in 2026. Barefoot said Landis’ rate is already roughly 1.5%. So, next year’s rate will be a reduction for the town.

“Based upon my experience, a collection fee charge of 1.5% is fairly standard and I think the transition period of five years to get to the 1.5% will be helpful,” Barefoot said in a memo to town aldermen.

Also at the meeting, town aldermen approved two budget ordinances. One was to fund longevity pay for employees at a total cost of $20,833 using an increase in sales tax revenue that has been received, but not originally budgeted. The same amendment included a $1,185 increase in park rentals that exceeds the budgeted revenues for the year.

“We looked at that and felt like with this year and all of the issues we’ve had with COVID, our employees have put themselves in harm’s way for a number of months and we are doing well financially,” said Landis Finance Officer Diane Seaford at the meeting.

The other budget amendment was to fund the required modifications for the development of a unified development ordinance and land use plan in the amount of $11,250 for the current fiscal year. The remaining $16,250 needed for the project will be allocated in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Also at the meeting:

• Town aldermen presented a plaque and fresh flowers to Debbie Goodman, who is retiring after serving the town as a billing clerk for 49 years. Her position was posted on Nov. 10, and Barefoot said someone has been extended a job offer with more details to come.

• Aldermen approved the consideration of an offer by Michael and Tonya Hatley to purchase a .78-acre parcel located at the corner of Old Beatty Ford Road and Dial Street. The parcel is one of the former D.C. Linn properties donated to the town in 2013. The parcel is zoned for residential development but a major power line traverses the property, which prevents it from being used for such development.

The tax value for the property is $29,835, which Barefoot calls “too high” because it’s “unbuildable” due to the power line issue. Michael Hatley has offered to buy the property for $5,000. The property is adjacent to Michael Hatley’s land and he intends to use the lot for added land for his family, according to the offer letter he provided to the town.

The offer will be advertised for 10 days before the bid from Hatley is accepted, unless an upset bid of at least 10% more than the current offer is proposed within those 10 days.

Alderwoman Katie Sells, however, voted against the measure because she said the offer was too small.

• Alderman approved a recommendation by Barefoot to appoint Landis Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Stewart as a liaison for the town’s Planning Board.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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