Berry: Town’s budgethas to ‘stay tight’ toget in financial shape

By: By Christine S. Carroll - Staff Writer
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ELLERBE — Town commissioners will make their final tweaks before adopting the fiscal 2019 budget during a special meeting at 2 p.m. Monday.

On Thursday, they met with Mayor Lee Berry and Town Clerk Jane Smith to view a draft of the budget that included changes proposed during two previous budget-brainstorming meetings.

“If we’re going to trim this budget and get into good financial shape,” Berry said, “(we have to) stay tight.”

Commissioner Elsie Freeman expressed her wish for new Christmas decorations and more flowers about town, but Berry cautioned her, saying that as nice as those things would be, the town really didn’t need them.

Commissioner Fred Cloninger made anew his pitch for charging out-of-towners more to play in town-sponsored sports leagues. Berry said he wasn’t a voting member but cautioned that such a move might deprive some children of a chance to play.

The back-and-forth was cordial but highlighted the difficulty Ellerbe faces in providing more service for fewer dollars. The town has only about 1,000 residents, many of them elderly and others, poor. The population of industry and business also is light.

But there are potential bright spots.

Berry told commissioners that the town had secured a bridge loan for a new fire truck, which would allow it to buy the truck soon and pay during the new budget year.

It also is negotiating to trim the contract with a private code-enforcement officer, now that Ellerbe has made strides in beautifying the town. And it is looking to pare down the contract with its auditing firm, which would allow the hiring of a day-to-day bookkeeper.

Berry also reported that the town was 45 days away from receiving another chunk of state grant money to maintain the rest stop on U.S. 220, which has drawn more visitors than predicted.

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By Christine S. Carroll

Staff Writer

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]

Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]