The Norwood Town Council has passed its budget for the upcoming fiscal year which includes a measure designed for added safety to lake residents.
The council passed a budget resolution for the 2021-22 fiscal year which included $38,500 for a new boat to patrol Lake Tillery.
Norwood’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) includes a two-mile radius outside the town limits, which encompasses many properties on the lake, according to Police Chief James Wilson. The boat will allow Norwood officers to respond to incidents like boat accidents or crimes in as little as five minutes.
“Our goal is to act as a deterrent for crime and bad behavior on the lake,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he and members of the police department have been planning to add a boat for well over a year.
The boat was one of several additions to the town’s budget, which passed with a vote of 3-0 by Mayor Linda Campbell and council members Robbie Cohen and Wes Hartsell. Mayor Pro Tem James Lilly and Councilwoman Betty Harrison did not attend the meeting.
Several residents of the lake area, including former Stanly County School Board member Patty Crump, spoke during a public hearing prior to the hearing to support the boat.
Two of the public speakers reported many thefts from their docks, while one reported a breaking and entering through a locked door facility at one dock.
The 2021-22 budget also contains a utility customer deposit fee of $250 for customers who do not supply the town with a valid Social Security number (SSN). The water deposit fee for customers supplying a valid SSN is $200.
“The town incurs a much higher risk when people don’t furnish their Social Security card,” Town Manager Scott Howard said.
While that is a citizen’s right to not furnish a card, he added it was not any different than showing identification to get a library card.
“The pros that are good at moving from town to town and leaving huge water and sewer bills don’t furnish their card. We end up losing a lot of money, which obviously ultimately the taxpayers have to pay for that,” Howard said.
He said the additional $50 could make the difference between the town being in the red or not on an account.
Golf cart fees also increased but the town’s overall property tax rate stayed the same.
However, the new budget included a 30 percent increase in the base sewer rate, approved at a recent special meeting by the town council.
One fee which did not get included in the budget was the one for rental of the town’s volleyball courts.
In public comments, representatives from two volleyball organizations discussed problems from both teams trying to share the courts.
Tom Gray, former head volleyball coach at South Stanly High School, asked for the town to add new sand to the courts at a cost of $8,111 for four inches of washed sand.
“We have something no one else in the county has: three sand volleyball courts,” Gray said.
Parents of players from another volleyball group spoke at the meeting expressing their concerns about a proposed fee schedule which would allow groups to reserve all three courts to the exclusion of others.
Cohen said he provided the sand at the Norwood courts for free along with building the court at the high school.
Noting his six years working with Dixie Youth Baseball, Cohen said he would not allow travel teams to use the baseball fields. His reason was that those teams were from outside the county.
“These out-of-towners coming in, it’s going to be hard for me not to charge them,” Cohen said. “I’m all for Norwood residents to play ball down there at zero cost because they are paying taxes. But when these kids from 50 miles away come, we footed that bill.”
He added, “I’m not going to spend Norwood tax dollars to support a New London kid playing ball here.”
The volleyball fee schedule was tabled.