GARLAND — The town’s fire department is requesting additional funding from commissioners, which includes a tax increase for taxpayers.
During a Tuesday meeting, Fire Chief Thomas Norris presented several requests One of the biggest included a 10 cents tax per $100 valuation on personal and real estate property.
The other requests included $3,000 a year for rescue services; free water, sewer and garbage collection; and to leave the siren at the current station.
“We all need to get on the same page about this requests,” Norris said.
Commissioner Ralph Smith, Norris and other commissioners discussed the 10 cents tax rate the department receives from Sampson County residents in the area.
“They didn’t start paying you 10 cents today,” Ralph said. “They started paying you 10 cents over some years. But now you’re asking us to put on our taxpayers 10 cents (now).”
Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy said the commission supports the firefighters and said it was proud of the department. But the requests must be discussed in detail first.
“This is something that we need to put in the mix with other budget discussions,” Murphy said about the other town departments. “I know what our budget is now and it’s very tight. We have to look at the whole picture for everything in reference to all departments before we can firmly say we can do this or not.”
While discussing the tax matter, Norris brought up how people in Garland are not paying the same amount of taxes and fire insurance as those living outside of town.
“That’s where I’m hearing a lot of it now,” Norris said about the tax difference.
Commissioner Judy Smith feels that the increase is justified, but believes the town can’t handle too much of an increase.
“It’s not right for these people to pay and our people not to pay,” Norris said in response.
If implemented, the new collection would begin July 1, 2016 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. A budget work session to discuss matters such as the fire department and other building needs is scheduled for Friday, March 18.