GARLAND — The positive and negative revenue impacts that lie ahead for Garland, a retreat, Parliamentary procedure and old buildings getting a new face were all points of discussion during a town board meeting this week.
Following an audit presentation, Garland mayor Winifred Murphy expressed optimism at the boon that might be enjoyed with two new local businesses.
“I think that Han-Dee Hugo and Subway will help tremendously,” said Murphy. “I’m just anxious to see what our sales and use tax will be in a few months. Of course, they just got started in December, but we won’t actually see that revenue coming in until probably March. Any time we can bring people in, that’s going to increase our businesses (and) economic development certainly will increase.”
However, that may also be offset to a smaller extent by some decreased revenue on the other side, the mayor said, alluding to some legislation that threatens to close sweepstakes cafes for good. The establishments have provided a great deal of revenue for Garland, which bumped up its fees on the operations last year.
“We will lose that money that we had counted on from Internet sweepstakes,” said Murphy, “so we’ve got to find a way to make that up.”
Cost-cutting will continue, as decreasing expenditures can make up where revenues cannot be found.
From the four telephone lines the town was paying for when it was only using two, to the storage trailer that was being rented for $100 per month, Murphy said, “that adds up.”
“We talked about having some signage put on some of the buildings: here at town hall, as well as the old bank building the town hall annex and visitor’s center — and a new sign for the Head Start building as the Garland Community Center,” said town clerk Jennifer Gray.
The total for the three projects, the town hall lettering and removal of the old “Garland Police Department” lettering at the town hall’s side entrance; the door lettering at the town hall annex; and for a 4x6 aluminum Community Center sign, the quote was $250.
The town board approved the vinyl lettering for the town hall and the annex, as well as purchase of the Community Center sign. The town hall lettering is expected to include hours of operation and a contact number. The town hall annex/visitor’s center and the Community Center sign could also include a contact number, Gray said.
The old bank building is expected to be utilized as an annex and visitor’s center for the foreseeable future.
Murphy said N.C. STEP (Small Town Economic Prosperity grant program) coaches, in guiding Garland through the developing of projects and programs that can help the town economically and aesthetically, noted this week that they loved the idea of such a center.
“He was very excited and very supportive of having a visitor’s center and said, if that’s one thing the entire N.C. STEP Committee wants to do, we can purchase some maps and things to go into the visitor’s center,” Murphy said. “That’s something that was very exciting, to help expand economic development in the town of Garland. That’s wonderful.”
The board also discussed having a retreat at Jones Lake State Park in Bladen County.
Gray said cost to use one of the conference rooms at Jones Lake for a half-day — 8 a.m. to noon or 1 to 5 p.m. — would be $78. It would be $127 for a full-day, she said.
“I think we need to do something next month, so we can do some of the things we don’t have time to do in regular meetings,” Murphy said. “We can get away from Garland and get some things done, finance type things, committee assignments, and set goals and visions of what we want to do.”
She asked that commissioners check their calendars, and think about the content they wished to discuss, so a date could be set.
In other business, Mayor Pro Tem Ralph Smith addressed Parliamentary procedure, and expressed his concern that commissioners be given enough time to make informed decisions about matters that come before them. He suggested having a cut-off date for any items to be included on regular meeting agendas.
“One of my main concerns, I think in our code it says that all of the commissioners should have this information at least six hours before the meeting,” said Smith. “It’s really hard for us to come in here and do a thorough acting on this agenda when we’ve not had it. We have to have time that we can go through it, and I’d like to see that.”
Smith said there should also be a cut-off time as to what can be placed on the agenda, such as noon Friday prior to a Tuesday regular meeting. “We need to cut off so we can know when we come back in here for the Tuesday meeting what is going to be on the agenda,” said Smith.
“Our goal is to try to get those board packets out before Friday,” said Murphy, “so we’re still trying to get there.”
The mayor said that would not include any walk-on items or modifications to the agenda, which can be approved by the board at the beginning of a regular meeting. Special meetings are often limited to the subject matter that can be discussed in those sessions, which must be advertised beforehand.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.