Former Mayor Speaks on Economic Development in Mount Gilead

Mount Gilead Town Commissioners met Tuesday night.

It was the board’s regular monthly meeting, and the agenda was fairly light. Among decisions made, the board approved $65 in funding to support an initiative to encourage children to read over the summer. Town Manager Katrina Tatum said some books will be purchased, and donations of books are welcome at Town Hall.

Also at the meeting, former Mayor Jimmy Haithcock spoke in the public forum. Haithcock’s main concern was economic development. He said the town has amenities that are attractive to industry, but the town tax rate is too high.

“We have the facilities,” said Haithcock. “We have water, sewer, electricity, rail, natural gas – anything you want (for) industry. But, our tax rate is not competitive with other communities.”

Quoting figures he said were obtained from county bookkeepers, Haithcock questioned an increase in the town’s salary budget while tax income has not kept up. Shifting focus from economic development, he said senior citizens should not have to bear the burden of the increases.

“Most of our property is owned by senior citizens, whose income does not go up when their expenses go up,” he continued. “We need to think of these people and keep our expenditures as low as possible. I’m not downgrading anybody that works for the town — police department, fire department, whatever — they do a great job. but we’ve got to cut our expenditures down. We’ve got to cut down what we spend.”

Jim Haithcock’s full comments can be heard in a rebroadcast of the entire Mount Gilead Town Commissioners meeting. It airs again Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on Community Radio WMTG.

George Knight also spoke in the public forum. He talked about the need for unity, and his comments will be featured in tomorrow’s local updates.

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