Last updated: May 08. 2014 10:22AM - 1565 Views
By - swillets@civitasmedia.com

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LUMBERTON — Members of the Lumberton City Council on Wednesday considered which nonprofits would receive money in its next budget.

Meeting as the Council Policy Committee, some members disagreed as to where their limited allotments should go, debating which organizations needed money the most and which offered unique and vital services

Sixteen organizations requested a total of $446,500, not including new requests from Sisters with Pearls Serving Society and Robeson County Teen Court and Youth Services that have not been reviewed.

The council agreed to allot $12,500 to Lumberton Rescue and Emergency Medical Services, but only after much discussion.

Councilman Erich Hackney noted that the rescue squad is the only nonprofit on the list that makes money and proposed giving $12,500, the same amount the council designated during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

The rescue unit had requested $25,000. The council reduced its funding last year because the organization was earning money, primarily from ambulance fees.

Burnis Wilkins, a longtime volunteer with the rescue squad, asked that city council give as much as possible, saying $25,000 doesn’t cover the light bill for the organization, which includes about 35 volunteers.

Wilkins called cutting the funding “a slap in the face to those volunteers.”

“I was sitting in that corner over there last year and couldn’t speak up, I wasn’t elected yet,” Wilkins said.

It is expected that the council will revisit the other requests during a budget workshop scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday.

The council will consider giving $285,000 to the Robeson County Public Library; $22,500 to Lumberton Christian Care Center; and $10,000 to Southeastern Family Violence Center, among other allotments.

The council also reviewed a proposed ordinance outlining restrictions for now-illegal electronic gaming establishments.

The ordinance, designed to replace a moratorium expiring June 10, has come before the council several times, with some members arguing it is unnecessary as long as the establishments are illegal and others asking for more restrictions.

The ordinance limits electronic gaming establishments to three zoning districts and hours of operation from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. On Wednesday, the council voted to amend the ordinance to limit the number of machines to one per 100 square feet of floor with a maxiumum of 20 machines per establishment, prohibit machines from being installed in businesses that sell alcohol for consumption on the property and to state that no conditional-use permits will be granted for such establishments until the General Assembly deems them legal.

The ordinance previously stated that a sweepstakes cafe could not be located within 500 feet of establishments, including other sweepstakes cafes, a single-family residence, schools or places of worship. At the council’s request, the Planning Board will determine whether that could be changed to 1,000 feet without effectively prohibiting all sweepstakes cafes.

In other business, the council:

— Approved an agreement with Becker Morgan Group to design a score tower at Northeast Park. The architectural services will cost about $8,000 out of the building’s total $250,000 budget, according to Brandon Love, director of the Planning Department. Becker Morgan Group designed the new Lumberton Police Department.

— Approved an agreement for engineering services with Anderson Engineering & Associates to renovate the kitchen and restrooms at Bill Sapp Recreation Center. Construction documents, including a floor plan and electrical plans, will cost $12,000.

— Adopted a resolution authorizing the submission of a building reuse grant for Southeastern Regional Medical Center. The $500,000 grant will help the hospital accommodate medical students from Campbell University. Southeastern Health has agreed to provide the required local match.

— Approved a rezoning request and a conditional-use permit for property located at 202 Taylor Drive. The property is currently zoned for agricultural use. FLS Energy intends to construct a solar farm on the property. Both applications will be sent back to the Planning Board for further review before a public hearing is held.

— Authorized the Lumberton Police Department to apply for a $33,800 grant to buy 65 bulletproof vests. The grant requires a 50 percent match.

— Voted to write off some delinquent accounts. Delinquent accounts are written off if they are 3 years old or if the taxes are 10 years old. The city continues to try to collect that money after it is written off.

— Approved the plat for Lot 76 in the Amberdale area, where construction of a subdivision is underway and set a bond in the amount of $15,000 for completion of $12,610 in improvements to the lot.

— Authorized City Manager Wayne Horne and Alisha Thompson, the city’s finance director, to make any necessary amendments to the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.

— Approved the designation of $200 in Community Revitalization Funds from Precinct 5 and $50 each from Precincts 7, 6, 8, 1 and 4 for the Golden Leaf Lodges’ Knights of Pythagoras youth program.

— Approved the designation of $100 in Community Revitalization Funds for Operation Graduation.

— Declined to set aside $3,000 in the budget for the Mike Brill Football Clinic.

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