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Sharpsburg Considers Drastic Measures For Money Woes

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SHARPSBURG, N.C. — Sharpsburg is a small town south of Rocky Mount that's easy to find. But now the town is in over its head financially. A $250,000 shortfall has town leaders thinking budget cuts in a most unusual way.

Like so many other small rural communities, Sharpsburg has stopped growing. Its financial balance sheet is in the red, and local leaders want to cut the budget. One budget-cutting option that would reduce or eliminate the Sharpsburg Police Department drew a standing-room-only crowd at Tuesday night's town commissioners meeting.

"It's a shame you have to have 100 people go to a meeting to plead to keep someone's jobs," said business owner Mike Taylor.

The cuts to the eight-member police department never came to a vote. On Wednesday, town leaders said they were too busy working on the budget to talk to WRAL. But store clerk Darlene Price worries about her security at work.

"If we lost them, this ain't going to be nothing but a doggone mess," said Price.

Taylor, who operates a local wrecker business, says the town got in financial trouble by spending money to improve city projects.

"But the bottom line is -- we'll come through it," said Taylor. "We'll bring it back up. But it's all going to have to be done in a positive manner."

Town leaders got a clear message from residents that cutting the police force isn't the way to improve the bottom line. Sharpsburg Mayor Sheila Williams plans to give a State of the Town Address at the commissioners' February meeting.