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Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — In the first in-person meeting open to the public in months, the Board of Aldermen and town officials on Monday discussed a slew of items, including an update on the town’s finances and a 2021-22 fiscal year budget calendar.

A financial report ending March 31 shows the town has generated 85% of budgeted revenues and 62% of expenditures in the general fund. There was $2.4 million in the general fund’s fund balance, which is partially a savings account. A total of $3.51 million was budgeted for the 2020-21 fiscal year in the general fund.

To date, 80% of revenue has been received for the water and 50% of expenditures has been reached, leaving $5.5 million in retained earnings as of March 31. The stormwater fund has reached 87% of its revenues and 45% of its expenses. The sewer fund has reached 73% of its revenue and 60% of its expenses. The electric fund has reached 88% of revenue and 64% of expenses.

Board members at the meeting approved a calendar for preparing the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. The department budgets have been distributed, and Town Manager Diane Seaford and Finance Officer Pam Dubois will meet with department heads to discuss their requests on April 21 and 22.

A draft of the budget will then be presented to aldermen on May 3 at 5:30 p.m. If necessary, the budget may be discussed at the regular May 10 meeting. The full budget will be made available for the public on May 24. A public hearing and adoption of the budget is scheduled for June 14.

Also at the meeting:

• Board members approved a resolution authorizing the sale of a vacated .47-acre lot located at the end of Linn Avenue for $7,000 to John Eckard after receiving no upset bids for the purchase.

• Board members approved an ordinance directing the housing inspector close a building located at 603 West Ryder Ave. because as it has become “unfit for human habitation.” The property’s occupants have been living there since September without electricity or sewer, and the town’s code enforcement department reports that at least 24 dogs are residing there, making it a health and sanitation issue as well. A notice will be posted notifying the occupants that they have 30 days to vacate the premises.

• Board members appointed eight locals to the town’s board of adjustment, which is the quasi-judicial branch of the Landis Planning and Zoning Board tasked with hearing appeals from the planning and zoning team and ruling on conditional use applications. The appointed members include Mark Bringle, Sam Deadmon, Catherine Drumm, Dale Eudy, Ron Fite, Ryan Nelms, Stephen Overcash and Kim Zwaan.

• Seaford reported that since July the town has collected $36,517 from surplus property sales. Revenues from those sales will be directed to the department in which the property was deemed a surplus.

• Board members approved a request from Dubois to increase the minimum amount required for the town to issue a purchase order from $150 to $1,000. Additionally, board members approved a request to reduce the minimum capitalization value of land from $10,000 to zero, and to reduce the minimum capitalization value of infrastructure from $20,000 to $15,000 to line up with similar assets. Dubois said staff are still working to draft a comprehensive town purchasing and financing policy.

• Public Safety Director Zachary Lechette encouraged locals to reach out to the police department with any questions regarding the use of low-speed vehicles, which includes golf carts, John Deere “Gators,” HUVs, UTVs and similar vehicles not exceeding 28 miles per hour. Permits must first be obtained before operation. Lechette also reported that from July 2020 to March 31, the Landis Fire Department responded to 99 mutual aid incidents, received mutual aid for 39 incidents, responded to 211 calls for service, had an average response time of 5.5 minutes and logged 594 hours of training.

• Board members officially accepted the results of the 2019-20 fiscal year audit conducted by Ann Craver, a Raleigh-based firm. In another agenda item, the board approved Seaford’s recommendation to hire Martin Starnes and Associates to conduct the town’s fiscal year audits for the next three years at a cost of $19,000. Seaford said six firms were sent requests for proposals, with three returning quotes last week. Gibson & Co. bid $26,000, while Ann Craven bid $13,000. Seaford said the proposal from Martin Starnes and Associates was “far more comprehensive” and worth the additional cost. A contract will be considered at the May meeting.

• Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Stamper said the town’s pool will begin operating May 28. Board members approved her request to operate the pool from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday in an effort to provide private rentals. Rentals will be available on weekends only. The admission fee for the general public to use the pool will be $10 per adult, $5 per child older than 3 and free for children younger than 3 years old. Pool passes for Landis residents will be $125, with $200 for a family up to four, with $25 for each additional pass. Season pass purchases can begin next month.

• Board members approved a new Landis tagline to accompany the newly approved town logo on a new town website that’s still being designed. The tagline states, “The Future is Bright.”

• Seaford reported that The Brook Church, which regularly participates in the town’s movie nights, is partnering with the town to promote “Love Landis” week from May 3-8. In an effort to “spring clean,” dumpsters, shredders and free mulch will be available at the Public Works Department for the public’s use.

• Town Hall, located at 312 S. Main St., will reopen to the public on Monday, April 19. The walk-up window will continue to be available as well.

• Board members also formally thanked and recognized former interim Town Manager Leonard Barefoot for his time serving the town. “Without his leadership and guidance, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Stewart.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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