By Natalie Anderson
LANDIS — Town officials are considering spreading out Landis’ $1 million share of federal American Rescue Plan funding across most of its departments for long-term capital projects and improvements.
The Landis Board of Aldermen gathered Tuesday to receive ideas from Manager Diane Seaford. The proposals are not final, and board members agreed to hold at least one additional public meeting so that residents can weigh in and those ideas can be considered before preparation of the 2022-23 budget is wrapped up. That date is expected to be set at the regular monthly meeting next week.
The board got a head start on allocating funding Tuesday by approving $50,000 for unexpected expenses in the 2021-22 budget, including the completion of the disc golf course and cabins at Wilderness Park and a $17,000 fuel cost increase.
Seaford said she considered multiple factors when evaluating the town’s needs and how the one-time pool of funding can best be used, including direct impact to the most citizens and minimal impact to future budgets.
For public safety, Seaford recommends using $300,000 for new fire engine, with the town borrowing the remaining $365,000 for eight years at an interest rate of 4%, costing approximately $54,000 per year.
The Public Safety Department has other needs, however, including one or two additional police positions at a cost of $91,000 per year, two replacement vehicles at a cost of $46,000 each and improvements to the Landis Fire Department’s living quarters at a cost of $30,000 to $50,000 . Seaford said those needs can be addressed during the annual budget cycle or from surplus equipment sales they estimate will bring in anywhere from $110,000 to $120,000.
For the Parks and Recreation Department, Seaford recommends spending $271,000 to begin a host of projects, including repair pool, a new splash pad, a new pavilion and courts, a playground and a community building for senior residents. The total cost of those projects is $420,000, but Seaford said the town will take a phased approach for all projects and that grants and budget funding can address some of those additional costs.
For the passive park project, Seaford suggests $54,000 be used for the construction, $50,000 for a message board and $50,000 for uptown sidewalk improvements near the passive park site.
“This funding has the potential to reach the largest majority of our citizens by providing a recreational and gathering opportunity for all ages,” Seaford said. “Upgrading and expanding our recreational program attracts new residents and new businesses.”
For the Public Works Department, Seaford recommends spending $225,000 for a new leaf vacuum, noting frequent problems over the last year with a vacuum purchased by the previous administration that had been used by multiple towns before it. Within the last year, Seaford said the town has called on its neighbor China Grove to borrow a vacuum multiple times.
In the Public Works Department, the only additional project not being proposed with ARP funding is a lateral camera, which will cost $10,000.
The total costs of all needed capital projects amounts to $3.95 million, but Seaford said allocating the one-time funding of $1 million across multiple departments to meet some of their higher-priority needs will put less strain on the each department’s budget, allowing more of the fund balance to be used for other projects. Additionally, she anticipates increased tax revenue from residential and commercial growth and said the town continues to seek grants and other supplementary funding.
Seaford said the board proposed the use of ARP funds for road paving, but such a project would use all of the $1 million and can likely be sought with other sources of funding. Additionally, it’s still not enough to meet all of the town’s paving and water and infrastructure needs, she added.
Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Stewart said at least one meeting where the public can weigh in is needed. Alderman Darrell Overcash concurred, stating, “In the end, it’s their money.”
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.