Last updated: June 18. 2014 4:29PM - 419 Views
By Chase Jordan cjordan@civitasmedia.com

Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentGarland City officials discuss budget items during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Chase Jordan / Sampson IndependentGarland City officials discuss budget items during a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
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GARLAND – The town’s Board of Commissioners approved an immediate spending freeze Tuesday during a special meeting.

“It means we’re being very cautious in terms of our present year finances to make sure that we actually have enough to get through,” Mayor Winifred Murphy said.

The idea was presented by Mayor Pro-Tem Haywood Johnson.

Garland will only spend money on essential services, staffing and emergency services, the board decided.

Along with other commissioners, Murphy had hoped to see recreational improvements for youth factored into the the 2013-14 budget, and during a previous meeting, commissioners approved funding for basketball goals and softball equipment, but that will have to wait.

“I think we need to wait on all of it,” Commissioner Ralph Smith during the session.

Currently, more than $8,000 is in the parks and recreation budget. Murphy said they have to spend the money before the next budget cycle.

“I’m not happy about it,” the mayor said after the meeting. “We need to provide more services for our young people. It seems like that’s not happening.”

The decision on the spending freeze was made before a budget work session.

Murphy said residents can expect the same level of services and no tax increases in the 2014-15 budget.

“We’re making progress,” she said about trying to finalize the budget.

Murphy said the town is facing a challenge with a tight budget year and dealing with things such as health insurance and services such as waste management.

“We’re trying to maintain quality services without increasing taxes,” she said.

During the session, commissioners realized they were over budget by $6,000. To help balance it, officials made a suggestion to cut back on pesticides and to wait for motor vehicle tax income.

Commissioners have a couple of weeks to finalize the budget with a general fund of about $414,000. Some of the other funds that need to be discussed include the water, Powell Bill and North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program.

The town has until June 30 to finalize the budget.

During its 2013 budget season, the commissioners approved a budget of more than $837,000. According to the previous ordinance, the $837,594.03 consists of $451,450 in the General Fund, $265,000 in the Water and Sewer Fund, $109,288 in the Powell Bill Fund and another $11,856.03 in the N.C. STEP Project Fund.

Commissioners will hold a budget work session on Thursday, June 19.

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