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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wanda Arnold: the Trans Pacific Partnership on Your Back

Wanda Arnold wrote these articles to the Hickory Daily Record in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership wanting to rebut some of what she had read in that paper. The HDR has a policy that they only permit one letter to the editor every 20 days from a contributor. Some say that they are just a mouthpiece for the government. Let's see them put a 20 day moratorium on contributions from government officials. After all, most of their statements are opinion based. Aren't they?


There are 29 chapters in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that Obama wants passed. Only 5 of those pertain to trade matters. The rest would set binding rules on food safety standards, on access to medicine policies, on financial regulations and on internet freedom.

Here are three real-life examples of how the TPP works in the section called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
(1) Germany wants to phase out nuclear power. The nuclear power industry there can sue Germany for posing a threat to their profits.
(2) Canada wants to place a moratorium on fracking in order to study its effects more carefully. The energy industries involved can sue Canada for infringing on their profits and causing them loss.
(3) The governments in Uruguay and Australia want to pass anti-smoking policies. Phillip Morris can sue those countries because their profits have suffered.

This system has been in use for several years. TPP adds 9,000 more corporations to the list of those empowered to sue. The cases will be tried in a parallel legal system that goes around domestic courts. A tribunal of three lawyers will make a binding decision in each case. If the corporation wins and the government loses, guess who pays the corporation. Friends, you pay. The government produces nothing and earns nothing. The government lives on the back of YOU, the taxpayer. While we are being distracted by TV reality shows, national sports competitions, titillating sex scandals, social media, online games of every kind and the huge din of constant entertainment, "they who shall remain unnamed" are stealthily ensnaring us in a web and drawing the noose tighter and tighter. It's called Fascism and Hitler was the trial run. Unless we do something now, we are the end game.

Surveys have shown that citizens here don't trust their government. They don't trust Congress, they don't trust the Executive, they don't trust the Courts. It's not enough just to feel something is "not right." It's up to you to find out what's wrong. Didn't we believe the lies about how NAFTA would "create jobs" for Americans? Didn't over 3 million U. S. jobs flee overseas since that agreement and others like it were passed. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We better find out what else is
in the TPP!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wanda Arnold's Wake Up Call on the current Trade Agreements

Wanda Arnold wrote these articles to the Hickory Daily Record in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership wanting to rebut some of what she had read in that paper.

Trade agreements are not for the faint hearted. They make the eyes glaze over. I finally figured out the difference between TPA (not secret) and TPP (secret)! I wish I were knowledgeable enough to rebut Patrick Henry's guest column of June 18: "A win for transparency, congressional oversight," but I thought I must try.

To begin with, consider the source. As Majority Deputy House Whip, Patrick McHenry has moved onto the first rung of the House Republican Leadership ladder. His job is to whip up votes among his party members for legislation that the leadership wants approved and persuade others of its worth. Mr. McHenry is a nice guy and probably has done a lot for individual constituents; but this legislation affects the entire country and is too important for blind trust in our representatives.

I'd rather turn to Jeff Sessions, Republican Senator from Alabama. Sen. Sessions went down into the basement where the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade deal is under "heavy guard" to read it for himself. How many other Congressmen or women have done this? Then he read the TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) bill that is available online. He diplomatically calls these bills "fraught with problems and concerns." He then goes on to point out the five areas of major concern he has with TPA, which will apply not only to TPP, but to all future trade deals.

(1) Sessions says that TPA would consolidate power in the Executive Branch rather than return more power to Congress. There won't be a committee review process. They won't be allowed to amend it in any way. If Congress sees something it doesn't like or that violates our current laws, it will be hard to remove it from fast track because it must go through the revenue and Rules Committees where the Chairman can kill it. The President must send a report to Congress to get future fast-track approval if TPA is adopted, but he/she can classify and redact any part of the report. (More secrecy!)

(2) Passing TPA through Congress would result in "increased trade deficits." This would result in the loss of thousands of American jobs and he gives the actual figures of how this has happened with both NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the South Korea Free Trade Agreement. NC workers, you remember NAFTA, don't you?

(3) The TPP is a "living agreement," open to change in the future. The deal could be changed by other countries and the President without any congressional approval whatsoever. For example, China could be added without protections for us against their business subsidies and currency manipulations.

In fact concern (4): the agreement does not address currency manipulations at all.

(5) Sessions notes how TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law and Congress will be powerless to stop it.

How are we as individual voters supposed to figure this all out? Maybe it comes down to "who do you trust?" Sorry Mr. McHenry, I'll go with Jeff Sessions this time.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Newsletter about the Special City Council meeting of June 25, 2015 - Blue Bloodhound LLP Incentives Agreement

The Hickory City Council held a meeting early Thursday Morning. There should be a Hickory Inc. video up later today and I will post it ASAP. Notes about this meeting are provided below. It was a rather short and to the point meeting. There was no agenda provided online for this meeting and the meeting was scheduled on short notice.



I am still working on the information and notes from the special meeting that took place this past Monday morning related to the Lackey Conservancy located at Geitner Park by the Lake in Northwest Hickory.

The meeting that took place this morning provided details about the company Blue Bloodhound LLP, which will be locating in the newly renovated Moretz Mill building. Blue Bloodhound is a trucking software/IT company, which provides a service similar to Uber. This company helps in establishing a cluster node related to the transportation/trucking industry here in Hickory, with Transportation Insight being located only a few blocks away in the currently under reconstruction Lyerly Mill building.

Blue Bloodhound is a division of  Greene-Group, which is located in Davidson, NC. The jobs offered by this company will average $75,000+ per year. The company is investing $400,000 in software and IT support to start the business and looks to create 191 jobs over the next 3 years (per the agreement). The incentives provided by the City of Hickory equate to $800 per job, which matches the company's agreement with Catawba County. A State of North Carolina economic incentives agreement has already been announced as moving forward by Governor Pat McCrory.

The company is looking to hire people within the City of Hickory and there are built in criteria in the incentives agreement meant to ensure that happens. The company is interested in hiring mature people with experience in the IT field and also has a desire to have partnerships with local "Mom and Pop" Transportation/Trucking companies.

There were two readings on this matter, which allows the agreement to move forward immediately. The documents included in this public hearing included a resolution and the economic incentives agreement.

Blue Bloodhound Plans Hickory, North Carolina, Operations Center - Area Development Online News Desk - (06/23/2015)

Software startup to create 191 jobs in Hickory - Charlotte Business Journal - David Harris - June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Newsletter about the Special City Council meeting of June 22, 2015

The Hickory City Council held a meeting early Monday Morning that I was unable to attend. The Video below is the Hickory Inc. video. I will go over and make notes related to this meeting as time permits. The meeting is about the agreement between the family of Deidra Lackey and the City of Hickory in relation to the park being developed along the river adjoining Geitner Park. Their was no agenda provided online for this meeting and the meeting was scheduled on short notice,


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 16, 2015

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

***Final Release***

 Agenda about the City Council meeting of June 16, 2015 



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Hound Notes: There will not be another City Council meeting until July 14. I will try to write some articles in the meantime. I have had a lot on my plate of late that does not allow me to devote as much time to this endeavor. Since we 3 1/2 more weeks until the next Council meeting, I hope to submit a cross section on property assessment values as a random shot in the dark to see if residential properties have truly declined in the amounts stated previously. I am not taking preconceived biases into this issue. The second article may take some more time, but I look forward to updating the Putting the Puzzle together article from 2009.

There wasn't a lot that went on at this meeting. The issue of importance was the additional parking to be constructed across from Glenn Hilton Park.


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Mayor Wright was absent and Alderman Zagaroli was Mayor Pro Tempore

Ivocation by Reverend David Roberts, Morning Star First Baptist Church

Special Presentations
A. Business Well Crafted Award to WHKY Presented by Business Development Committee Member Dave Paist (courtesy Hickory Inc.: WHKY Award - http://www.hickorywellcrafted.com/liv...) - (per Hickory Inc.) - Mr. Dave Paist of the Business Development Committee, discussed a brief history of WHKY and presented the Business Well Craft Award to Mr. Tom Long.

B. Students with Attainable Goals (SWAG), Program at Ridgeview Community Center Presented by Business Development Committee Member Dave Paist. (courtesy Hickory Inc.: STUDENTS WITH ATTAINABLE GOALS Presentation - http://www.hickorync.gov/egov/documen...) - (per Hickory Inc.) - Mr. Paist discussed a program that was held in the spring for young people called Students with Attainable Goals (SWAG). The program was an entrepreneurship program that was spearheaded by Reggie Cummings and Andrea Nixon of the Recreation Department. It was supported by Jeff Neuville and Gary Miller at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) and Alex and Lisa Spruell of K-9 Security. He advised that on May 14th there was a presentation for the participants. He recognized some of the participants in the program. He commented that it was great that the City of Hickory was supporting this kind of effort. It was a community effort because it was the City, private enterprise, and CVCC.

C. Presentation of the 19th Consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Hickory by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). - (per Hickory Inc.) - Mayor Pro Tempore Zagaroli presented the 19th consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence Award (CAFR) to Mrs. Melissa Miller, Finance Director and commended her and her Staff for their work. Mrs. Melissa Miller thanked the Mayor, City Council and the Finance Staff for their efforts.


Persons Requesting to be Heard
Mr. Larry Pope addressed City Council regarding the Community Development Block Grant Funding that is given out each year by the Citizen’s Advisory Board which City Council approves. He discussed his concerns regarding the funding to Exodus Homes.


Consent Agenda:
Passed with Unanimous Consent after removal of Item J 
J. Approve the Termination of Residential Rental Contract with Adam Walker for the Property Located at 1123 15th Street NE.- On January 22, 2015 the City entered into a Residential Rental Contract with Adam Walker for the property located at 1123 15th Street NE. The term of the lease was for one year with a monthly rental fee of $350. Mr. Walker was formerly employed by the City of Hickory however he ended his employment to take another position which required him to relocate. Mr. Walker has requested termination of the rental agreement with the City effective June 19, 2015. He will pay pro-rated rent for the month, and $175 as a lease buy-out fee for early termination of the rental agreement. Staff requests Council’s approval of the Termination of Rental Agreement between the City of Hickory and Adam Walker for the property located at 1123 15th Street NE.

(Per Hickory Inc.) - Manager Berry advised Council of a date change in the Termination of Residential Rental Contract with Adam Walker. Mr. Walker had requested the termination date be changed to July 10th. City Council voted approval.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing for Consideration of Rezoning Petition 15-01. - Wendell Cramer petitioned the City for the rezoning of approximately 2.36 acres of property located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Startown Road and Catawba Valley Boulevard SE. (courtesy Hickory Inc.:
City Planning Report - http://www.hickorync.gov/egov/documen...)


New Business - Departmental Reports
1. Approval of an Invitation to Bid and Contract to Huffman Grading Co. Inc. in the Amount of $121,287 for Additional Parking at Glenn C. Hilton Jr. Recreation Park. (courtesy Hickory Inc.: Glenn Hilton Parking Expansion - http://www.hickorync.gov/egov/documen...)
Mac McLeod presentation - this is a continuation from an item in the Consent Agenda from the meeting of June 2, 2015 - Maps were provided to the Council for viewing during the presentation. A map is provided in the link above of the area in question. Moved up from 2017-18 budget to 2014-15 budget due to the park's parking overcrowding that the park has been experiencing. This will create 47 additional spaces. There are currently 81 marked spaces at the park. 6th St NW is the entrance into the new park, which will only be used as an overflow when the park is full. There is a 20 foot (berm) planted buffer zone and 6 foot fence that will block residential properties. There will be a signaled crosswalk to crossover to a sidewalk that leads to the park. Alderman Guess asked about a natural tendency to cross immediately into the park from the parking lot. Mr. McLeod said that is not the intention. They want people to cross into the existing park entrance. Council had various questions and statements related to this issue. There concern is that if the public is going to enter here, then why not make an entrance here. There is disc golf at this entrance. Alderman Lail asked about the berm and stated that he wants the parking properly screened away from the R-2 (residential) zoning. Mr. McLeod tried to give him assurances on the issue. Alderman Seaver asked about bus parking in the new parking lot. Mr. McLeod said that bus parking usually only occurs during weekdays and is generally not an issue on weekends. It was addressed that people had been parking along 6th Street and back into the neighborhoods. That is the reason why this issue was brought before the Council and needed to be addressed. Hilton park is lighted and the new lot will have lights. Council had a brief discussion.

Council voted 6-1 to accept the proposal - Alderman Lail voted against stating that he didn't believe that what was laid out in the plans/design is what was presented. He did state he was in favor of additional parking.


2. Accept the Hickory Public Library Strategic Plan for 2015-2018. (courtesy Hickory Inc. : Library Strategic Plan - http://www.hickorync.gov/egov/documen...)
Louise Humphey was in charge of the presentation. This was her last meeting, since she is retiring. This was a 10 month process. Anthony Chow, Srategic Performance Systems and UNC-Greensboro, consultant made presented information about the process. There were 21 focus groups and 1000 residents involved in the process. The goal is to have state of the art technology, superior customer service, strong collaboration with the city and integrated with the county, Innovative Community Relationships and partnerships, good marketing of the libraries services, Modern and Welcoming Library spaces... Ridgeview Library is too small and needs to be updated.

General Comments (per Hickory Inc.)
City Manager Mick Berry introduced the City’s new Assistant City Manager Rodney Miller.
Mayor Pro Tempore Zagaroli recognized the Leadership 2000 youth that were in attendance.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Agenda about the City Council meeting of June 16, 2015

This Agenda is about the Hickory City Council meeting that took place on the date listed above. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website/ The City's website evolves over time, but currently towrds the top right there is a Link called Quick Links. Click that on and look for the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. Scroll down from there and this will show you a list of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date. You can also look in the upper right hand corner of the front page of the Hickory Hound and (will soon) find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

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Hound Notes: During the May 5th City Council meeting,
1. Consideration of the Community Development Block Grant 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan.
Mr. Larry Pope spoke against the plan because of his concerns about the inclusion of Exodus homes.

Council made several statements including a desire for Exodus Homes to come before the City Council to speak about their mission and address the concerns Mr. Pope spoke about. Apparently Hickory Inc. has changed its mind, because when you look at the Consent Agenda (Item D), you see that Exodus Homes, along with the other organizations, is being approved without speaking before the City Council.






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Special Presentations
A. Business Well Crafted Award to WHKY Presented by Business Development Committee Member Dave Paist
B. Students with Attainable Goals (SWAG), Program at Ridgeview Community Center Presented by Business Development Committee Member Dave Paist.
C. Presentation of the 19th Consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Hickory by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Consent Agenda:
A. Request from Hickory Police Department to Award Police Badge and Service Weapon to Retiring MPO Danny Crump. By authority of NC General Statute §20-187.2, City Council may award the service weapon and police badge to retiring MPO Danny Crump upon his retirement from Hickory Police Department on July 1, 2015 after completing 30 years of qualifying service with Hickory Police Department. Upon approval from City Council, the police badge and service weapon will be declared surplus and removed from the City’s fixed asset inventory.

B. Approval of Community Development Block Grant Funding Agreement with Hickory Soup Kitchen, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 in the Amount of $20,000. - In February 2015 the City of Hickory Department of Planning and Development Services requested applications from local nonprofit organizations for funding under the Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommended funding for these applications as part of the City’s Annual Action Plan. The Annual Action Plan was approved following a public hearing on May 5, 2015. The Hickory Soup Kitchen Inc. requested and were approved for funding in the amount of $20,000 through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Approval of the agreement will allow them to continue to provide much needed nutritional services to the City of Hickory’s homeless and/or low-income community. No City funding will be used for this agreement. Staff recommends approval of the funding agreement with Hickory Soup Kitchen Inc.

C. Approval of Community Development Block Grant Funding Agreement with AIDS Leadership Foothills-Area Alliance, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 in the Amount of $15,000. - In February 2015 the City of Hickory Department of Planning and Development Services requested applications from local nonprofit organizations for funding under the Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommended funding for these applications as part of the City’s Annual Action Plan. The Annual Action Plan was approved following a public hearing on May 5, 2015. AIDS Leadership Foothills-Area Alliance requested and were approved for funding in the amount of $15,000 through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Approval of the agreement will allow them to continue to provide much needed medical case management services to persons living with HIV and AIDS. No City funding will be used for this agreement. Staff recommends approval of the funding agreement with AIDS Leadership Foothills-Area Alliance, Inc.

D. Approval of Community Development Block Grant Funding Agreement with Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 in the Amount of $10,000. - In February 2015 the City of Hickory Department of Planning and Development Services requested applications from local nonprofit organizations for funding under the Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommended funding for these applications as part of the City’s Annual Action Plan. The Annual Action Plan was approved following a public hearing on May 5, 2015. Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc. requested and were approved for funding in the amount of $10,000 through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Approval of the agreement will allow them to continue to provide much needed services to homeless and previously incarcerated individuals with substance abuse issues. No City funding will be used for this agreement. Staff recommends approval of the funding agreement with Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc.

E. Approval of Community Development Block Grant Funding Agreement with City of Refuge Community Development Center, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 in the Amount of $3,550. - In February 2015 the City of Hickory Department of Planning and Development Services requested applications from local nonprofit organizations for funding under the Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommended funding for these applications as part of the City’s Annual Action Plan. The Annual Action Plan was approved following a public hearing on May 5, 2015. City of Refuge requested and were approved for funding in the amount of $3,550 through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Approval of the agreement will allow them to continue providing much needed afterschool program services to low and moderate income youth. No City funding will be used for this agreement. Staff recommends approval of the funding agreement with City of Refuge Community Development Center, Inc.

F. Approval of Community Development Block Grant Funding Agreement with Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley, Inc. for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 in the Amount of $20,000. - In February 2015 the City of Hickory Department of Planning and Development Services requested applications from local nonprofit organizations for funding under the Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommended funding for these applications as part of the City’s Annual Action Plan. The Annual Action Plan was approved following a public hearing on May 5, 2015. Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley requested and were approved for funding in the amount of $20,000 through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Approval of the agreement will allow them to continue to provide much needed housing rehabilitation serves to benefit low to moderate income households. No City funding will be used for this agreement. Staff recommends approval of the funding agreement with Habitat for Humanity of the Catawba Valley, Inc.

G. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs. - The following request was considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their
regular meeting on June 4, 2015:
 Michael F. and Ann Fisher, 538 5th Street SW, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $20,000 for repairs to their house. Assistance would be in the form of a 3 percent interest loan for a ten year period.
Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation program income and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The following applicant is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2014 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income
citizens with assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $7,200.
 Mattie Fuller, 826 3rd Street SE, Hickory
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the aforementioned requests for assistance through the City of Hickory’s housing assistance programs.

H. Special Events/Activities Application Lumberjack Boom, Megan Meade, Director of Community Relations and Events Hickory Crawdads, July 4, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. at L.P. Frans Stadium, 2500 Clement Boulevard, NW.

I. Approval of Priority and Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2015/2016. - In conjunction with adoption of the annual budget, City Council updates and approves a Priorities and Action Plan which serves as a road map for staff and Council to achieve broad goals related to five strategic priorities: Economic Growth & Transportation, Quality of Life and Natural Environment, Operational Excellence, Vision and Leadership, and Communication and Marketing.

J. Approve the Termination of Residential Rental Contract with Adam Walker for the Property Located at 1123 15th Street NE.- On January 22, 2015 the City entered into a Residential Rental Contract with Adam Walker for the property located at 1123 15th Street NE. The term of the lease was for one year with a monthly rental fee of $350. Mr. Walker was formerly employed by the City of Hickory however he ended his employment to take another position which required him to relocate. Mr. Walker has requested termination of the rental agreement with the City effective June 19, 2015. He will pay pro-rated rent for the month, and $175 as a lease buy-out fee for early termination of the rental agreement. Staff requests Council’s approval of the Termination of Rental Agreement between the City of Hickory and Adam Walker for the property located at 1123 15th Street NE.

K. Approval of a Resolution Supporting the Application for Monies from the Greater Hickory Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (GHMPO) Surface Transportation Program-Direct appointment/Transportation Alternatives (STP-DA/TA). - The Greater Hickory Metropolitan Planning Organization has issued a call for Surface Transportation Program-Direct appointment/Transportation Alternatives (STP-DA/TA) funding to agencies within its jurisdiction. This money can be used for transportation projects as part of discretionary projects such as greenways, intersection improvements, and traffic signal upgrades. The three projects that will be applied for are Citywalk, Sandy Ridge Road Intersection Improvements, and Pedestrian Signalization Upgrades. The Citywalk project will use bond funds for match money and the Sandy Ridge Road Intersection Improvements and Pedestrian Signalization Upgrades will utilize General Fund monies for the match. Staff recommends Council’s approval of the Resolution for Support for these three projects as well as providing the matching funding in the amount of 20 percent for each project.

L. Rescind Grant Project Ordinance Amendment Number 5, Ordinance Number 15-23 and Approve Correction of Grant Project Ordinance Amendment Number 5C.
1. To accept a $225,223 transfer of General Capital Reserve Fund to the Miscellaneous Storm Grant Project. The total project expenses will be $360,381. Federal and State FEMA funding will cover $135,158 and the remaining balance of $225,223 will be funded by the General Capital Reserve Fund.
2. To accept a $346,728 transfer of General Capital Reserve Fund to the Windridge Bridge Grant Project. The total project expenses will be $1,208,501. Federal and State FEMA funding will cover $861,773 and the remaining balance of $346,728 will be funded by the General Capital Reserve Fund.

M. Rescind Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 19, Ordinance 15-25 and Approve Correction of Budget Ordinance Amendment 19C (Exhibit VIII.M.)
1. To budget a total of $50 of Library donations from Margie Owsley in honor of Mary Ellen Snodgrass.
2. To budget a total of $1,500 of Parks and Recreation donations in their Departmental Supplies line item. These funds are for the Unifour Senior Games.
3. To budget a total of $7,341 of Parks and Recreation donations in their Departmental Supplies line item. These funds are for the Unifour Senior Games
Registrations.
4. To transfer $19,100 from the Water and Sewer Fund-Sewer Lines to the Murray Basin Capital Project. This transfer is necessary to pay for the railroad permit fees from Norfolk Southern.
5. To transfer $27,000 from Water and Sewer Contingency to the Sewer Treatment line item to cover this line item for the remainder of this fiscal year. This is for the treatment and processing of sanitary sewer that is transported to the City of Conover from Hickory for treatment prior to discharge.
6. To transfer $9,406 back to the General Capital Reserve Fund to close the Henry Fork Field Lighting project. There is a $125,000 deferred revenue donation from CVYSA due in FY18 therefore a receivable account will be set up in the General Fund.
7. To appropriate $225,223 of General Capital Reserve Fund and transfer to the Miscellaneous Storm Grant Project. The total project expenses will be $360,381. Federal and State FEMA funding will cover $135,158 and the remaining balance of $225,223 will be funded by the General Capital Reserve Fund.
8. To appropriate $346,728 of General Capital Reserve Fund and transfer to the Windridge Bridge Grant Project. The total project expenses will be $1,208,501. Federal and State FEMA funding will cover $861,773 and the remaining balance of $346,728 will be funded by the General Capital Reserve Fund.
9. To transfer $105,000 of Water and Sewer Fund Balance to the Water and Sewer Pipes, Hydrants and Meters line item. This transfer is needed to pay for the purchase of 600 Radio Read Water Meters at a significant price savings.
10. To transfer $61,450 of Water and Sewer Capital Reserve-Appropriated Fund Balance to the Water and Sewer Capital Project Engineering Services line item. This transfer is to pay McGill and Associates for Professional Services for the Geitner Basin Outfall Replacement project.
11. To transfer $20,000 of General Fund-Appropriated Fund Balance to the Airport Grant project for future land acquisition and obstruction removal. The total project is $200,000 with 90% funded by the State ($180) and a required 10% local match of $20,000.


New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing for Consideration of Rezoning Petition 15-01. - Wendell Cramer petitioned the City for the rezoning of approximately 2.36 acres of property located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Startown Road and Catawba Valley Boulevard SE. The petition is to rezone the property from Low Density Residential (R-1) to Regional Commercial (C-3). The rezoning of the subject property to Regional Commercial (C-3) is consistent with the goals and policies contained within the Hickory by Choice 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission conducted a public hearing on May 27, 2015 to consider the petition and voted unanimously to affirm the petition’s consistency with the Hickory by Choice 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission and Staff recommends Council’s approval of the rezoning. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on June 5, and June 12, 2015.

New Business - Departmental Reports
1. Approval of an Invitation to Bid and Contract to Huffman Grading Co. Inc. in the Amount of $121,287 for Additional Parking at Glenn C. Hilton Jr. Recreation Park.- The paved parking lot will be constructed directly across 6th Street Drive NW from the existing Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Recreation Park to provide overflow parking spaces for the facility. Work under the contract will include clearing, grading, paving, curb/gutter and fencing. The Traffic Division will provide the crosswalk on 6th Street Drive NW and parking lot striping. Landscape Services will provide landscaping and Building Services will provide area lighting for the parking lot. Informal bids were received on May 22, 2015. Staff recommends awarding the contract to the low responsive, responsible bidder, Huffman Grading Co., Inc. in the amount of $121,287 for the construction of Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Recreation Park additional parking lot.
2. Accept the Hickory Public Library Strategic Plan for 2015-2018. - The library received a $20,160 Library Services and Technology Act planning grant in 2014 for the development of a new strategic plan to guide library services at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library for the next three years. Dr. Anthony Chow was retained to facilitate the planning
process that was undertaken by a Steering Committee representing the business, education and non-profit communities, media, Library Advisory Board, Friends of the Library Board, City government, and library staff. Approximately 1000 residents were involved in the ten month study from July 2014 to May 2015 by participating in interviews, focus groups, community forums, and surveys that
were available in print and online. Using input from the Steering Committee, staff, and survey results a final document was created. Staff recommends acceptance of the Hickory Public Library Strategic Plan for 2015-2018.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 2, 2015

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

***Final Release***


 Agenda about the City Council meeting of June 2, 2015






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Hound Notes:No one showed up for Persons Requesting to be Heard. No one showed up to speak, either for or against, about the City Budget. It was a relatively short meeting considering what was discussed even though the City Manager went over it pretty thoroughly. The only part that I didn't care much about was the amateur politics in the Council's discussion about how Raleigh and Washington are negatively impacting Hickory's budget. In my opinion any Raleigh and Washington impacts on the budget are related to the depressed economy. Every community, especially those our size and smaller, are having to deal with those issues.

In relation to the budget, there was a fairly angst filled Letter to the Editor from the Hickory Daily Record, in which the author issued a call to arms for people to show up and speak against the proposed property tax increase. the author himself didn't even show up much less anyone else. It is clear that at this time that the people of Hickory could care less about much of anything. As I said above no one spoke for or against this budget and the tax increase.

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Invocation Rev. George Coates, Pastor Hartzell Memorial United Methodist Church and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.


Consent Agenda: Three items (D,E, and H) were removed from the Consent Agenda . 

D. Approval to Write-off Uncollectable Accounts Totaling $227,716.22, in Accordance with North Carolina General Statutes. - North Carolina General Statutes establish all street assessments and property taxes that are over ten years old and are no longer collectable, and should be written off in
conjunction with the annual audit. For the current fiscal year (FY2014-2015), there are no street assessments to be written off, but $88,081.21 in unpaid property taxes that exceeds the ten year limitation. The City of Hickory’s Accounting Division requires all other accounts that are over eighteen months in arrears be written off to comply with “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” in order to more fairly represent financial assets of the City on the balance sheet. For the current fiscal year, this amount is $139,635.01. The Finance Division will continue to pursue collection of the debts. All eligible accounts over $50 are submitted to the North Carolina Debt Setoff Program for collection. As of May 5, 2015, the City of Hickory has collected $30,525.59 from the garnishment of North Carolina State tax refunds and North Carolina State lottery winnings during this fiscal year. Staff recommends approval to write-off uncollectable accounts for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
The City Manager made the point that Hickory Inc. would continue to pursue monies. The Mayor wanted to point that some very large items are amongst these write-offs. He just wanted the issue further clarified.

E. Approval of a Termination of Lease Agreement for Property Located at 470 Highway 70 SW. - In June 2004, the City entered into a ground lease agreement with the Hickory Jaycees for a building located at 470 Highway 70 SW. The term of the lease was for twenty-five (25) years with a lease fee of one dollar ($1.00) per year. The Jaycees used the building and parking for their meetings and events. Due to several factors, including the need for repairs to the building, the Jaycees informed City Staff the organization had found an alternative location for their meetings and events as of January 2015. Both parties mutually desire to terminate the agreement at this time. Staff requests Council approve the Termination of Lease Agreement between the City of Hickory and the Hickory Jaycees for the property located at 470 Highway 70 SW.
Alderman Meisner asked if Hickory Inc. had decided what they wanted to do with the building. The Mayor wanted to know about the condition of the building. The City Manager said that they would be coming forward to the Council soon with what some thoughts about what they might want to do.

H. Approval of Invitation to Bid and Contract to Huffman Grading Co. Inc. in the Amount of $121,287 for Additional Parking at Glenn C. Hilton Jr. Recreation Park. - The paved parking lot will be constructed directly across 6th Street Drive NW from the existing Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Recreation Park to provide  overflow parking spaces for the facility. Work under the contract will include clearing, grading, paving, curb/gutter and fencing. The Traffic Division will provide the crosswalk on 6th Street Drive NW and parking lot striping. Landscape Services will provide landscaping and Building Services will provide area lighting for the parking lot. Informal bids were received on May 22, 2015. Staff recommends awarding the contract to the low responsive, responsible bidder, Huffman Grading Co., Inc. in the amount of  $121,287 for the construction of Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Recreation Park additional parking lot.
Alder Patton wanted to know about crosswalks and remarked about the curviness of the road. Mack McLeod made statements related to this property. There will be  pedestrian signals. It will be a gated lot with an automatic gate. It will only be opened when the park is at capacity. Alderman Lail had reservations about the design and he wanted to see the plans/drawings/design. This is directly across from houses. Chuck Hanson addressed several of the issues the Council was concerned about.  There was a thought related to the speed along that area. Alderman Guess was concerned about delays and the effect on the plan. The issue was continued to a later meeting, so that Council could see the plans, and the Council agreed unanimously.


New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing on the City Manager’s FY2015-2016 Recommended Annual Budget. - Pursuant to NC General Statutes §159-12(b), a public hearing shall be held before adopting the budget ordinance. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on May 22, 2015. Copies of the budget ordinance were filed for public inspection in the Office of the City Clerk, Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Library. The recommended budget is also posted on the City’s web page, www.hickorync.gov. Pursuant to NC General Statutes §159-13(a), the City Council is required to adopt a balanced budget before July 1, making the appropriations and levying taxes for the budget year. The City Manager recommends adoption of the attached budget ordinance for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on May 22, 2015.
Manager Berry went over the recommended budget in much the same way as he had two weeks prior. Property taxes and the General Fund have generally been flat. The General Fund was $40 million in 2004-05 and the presently proposed budget is $46 million. Property tax has gone from $21.5 million to $23.5 million in that time frame. The budget is actually smaller than last years. The Water Fund is self sustaining along with the related composting/waste facility. He went over other internal service funds that have money budgeted.related to general Accepted Accounting Procedures that he says overstate the budget. He addressed the revenue neutral rate for property taxes. Once again he went over the privilege tax and the negative impact on City revenues. Big dollar changes are related to the utility fund related to the water and sewer fund. He stated that we are seeing strong growth in sales tax so far this year. He is not recommending any new hires. He spoke of major capital projects that total $5.5 million. Recycling is 83.5% self-supporting. He shows that the average household will pay an addition $3.67 in property tax and an additional $2 waste fee for a total $5.67 per month.
Alderman Seaver asked about the self-sustaining waste fund? The City Manager says that cities do that differently based upon philosophy, so do it through tax and some through fees like Hickory. Alderman Seaver asked about the sales tax legislation in Raleigh. Manager Berry went over how proposed legislation could negatively impact the City.  It could be changed/recalculated to reimburse counties and municipalities on a per capita basis. This could mean a possible increase of property tax in the future. The Council had a lot of angst over this issue. Alderman Lail was the voice of reason in explaining what the goal of the State of NC is, which is to try to get rid of the Income Tax in NC and replace it with the Sales Tax. The Mayor talked about people saying, "...I hear all this stuff, but don't mess with my status quo." As stated above, none one from the public spoke for or against the budget and it passed unanimously.

Hound Note: I am going to go over the Property Tax numbers in the near future to see if they are truly revenue neutral. Please remember that the assessment are a function of the Catawba County government, not the Hickory City government.


New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Authorize Staff to Apply for the US Department of Transportation TIGER Discretionary Grant in the Amount of $27,500,000. - The TIGER Discretionary Grants provide funding up to 80 percent of project costs in urban areas for surface transportation infrastructure project that will have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or metropolitan area. There is a $10 million dollar minimum funding request. The City of Hickory’s TIGER request will be $27.5 million dollars. Funds will be used for critical  infrastructure improvements such as streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, gateways, trails, and streetscape to promote the City as a choice location to live, work and play, and one where businesses want to locate, invest and expand. The match requirement is 20 percent of the grant award. The $40 million dollar bond referendum will serve as the non-federal funding match. Staff recommends Council authorize Staff to apply for the TIGER Discretionary Grant in the amount of $27,500,000.
Assistant City Manager Andrea Surreatt presented the information. She stated that the grant application has come up fairly quickly. The project opportunity is related to the City walk. She is asking the Council's permission to apply for the grant. She says the city walk has the most detailed cost estimates prepared by Land Design through Inspiring Spaces initiative. She said that 60 days ago a $500 million spending pool was announced. She says they have until Friday June 5, 2015 this grant came right up on the radar. She says that other projects are concepts on paper and haven't had any engineering done, but this project has mre detailed information. She went over the City Walk purpose and desire to redevelop the areas along it. We would hear in early September if we were awarded the grant and the City would have to decide if they were ready to move forward. The City is obligated to have a signed and executed grant agreement with the Federal Department of Transportation by September 30, 2015. The project must be completed by September 30, 2022. The Council and Ms. Surratt spoke about communities we will be competing against. The Council unanimously consented to go after this grant.
Hound Note: Anyone paying attention could see that the fix was in. Look at the agenda and it does not mention the "City Walk"/Linear Park in relation to this grant. By her account, Ms. Surratt states that this has been in the works for at least 60 days and Freese-Nichols helped with the application. A person I know who has worked on Federal Grants and Federal Grant writing says that it is highly likely that this grant has been on the radar a lot longer than that. 

It's fine that Hickory Inc. is going after this grant in my opinion, but why not be up front about it? There has certainly been a Shell game going on surrounding the projects related to the Bond Referendum. Where have the cost numbers been stated. We can definity see that the Bond Commission is a rubber stamp entity. The decision on what to do have already been made. I'm not seeing the transparency that was promoted late last year and early this year. Transparency is more than a talking point. It is an action.

Funny thing is the City and the Hickory Daily Record said this project would cost $27.5 million. When people scoffed at that number and the Bond Referendum drew closer, the Mayor said that they had seen this walk in north Charlotte, while visiting Land Design, and this project wouldn't cost anywhere near $27.5 million. Now, Andrea Surratt comes to the podium, speaks about this grant, the grant is for the "City Walk", she lays out details, and low and behold the number IS $27.5 million. Isn't politics ridiculous?



General Comments (per Hickory Inc.):
Mr. Berry recognized interns with the City for the month of June, Daisy Zavala-Vazquez from Lenoir-Rhyne University, and Melissa Loveless who just graduated from Western Carolina.
Mayor Wright commented about events in the community. The dinosaurs are back at the Science Center and the Sails Concert Series. Alderman Seaver mentioned the Tastin’, Tunes, and Tomatoes Farmers Market on the third Thursday in the month.

Mayor Wright commented about a posting on Facebook from one of his friends regarding her excitement with the new recycling plan. Alderman Seaver commented that his wife actually had a sign that said “Welcome Big Blue” regarding the big blue recycling can that was coming. Alderman Lail commended Public Services Director Chuck Hansen and Staff for their work in making the recycling program happen.

Alderman Seaver mentioned a Facebook friend in East Tennessee who is now a City Council member in Kingsport and President of a bank. He commented that his friend said that it is real exciting to see what is going on in Hickory. The word is spreading, people are hearing about it and knowing about it.
Mayor Wright commented that the Governor, Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate knows about us and what we are trying to do. He commented that the stars are lining up.



***Closed Session Per NC General Statutes*** 143-318.11(a)(1)(4) to consult with the attorneys regarding the following: (Action on these items, if any, will occur in Open Session) - Mr. Berry requested Council add to Closed Session potential litigation and existing litigation, Willie Grime versus the City of Hickory. (NCGS §143-318.11(a)(4))