This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.
At the bottom right of this page under main information links is a Hickory's Local Government link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the bottom of the page you will see the future dates for meetings scheduled for this year.
At the top of the page, if you click on the “Documents” link, you will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. 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.
Here is a summary of the agenda of the 4/20/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below
Invocation by Alderman Danny Seaver
A. Present Proclamation to Ms. Christine Cofer, Director of Western North Carolina Epilepsy Association Declaring the Week of April 18 – 24, 2010 as “Catawba County Hope Week” in the City of Hickory - This excellent program has been implemented to produce an abundance of food for residents of Catawba County who are in need. It utilizes underused property owned by Catawba County and the school systems made available to raise a community garden. They desire to partner with other non-profit associations and groups to help with the needs of the local soup kitchens. They desire for participation from local churches to promote the project.
The Hound has stated before that these Victory gardens are an excellent idea and in the present economic predicament that we find ourselves in, we are going to see more efficient usages of means to an end. I think churches and schools should get involved in these worthwhile efforts. Why go buy all of these food items in a store when we can get back to our roots and get back to basics.
Schools should build greenhouses and develop water systems to include cisterns and other methods of irrigation. This should be part of the science curriculum. Feed the kids and send food home with them and teach them about nutrition. Just think about bringing basic common sense back to schools, instead of materialistic idolatry. Well Gollee!!! Shazam!
A. Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of the Property of D & H Real Estate, LLC Located at 2440 Century Place, SE – McDonald Crossing Business Park (Authorize Public Hearing for May 4, 2010)
B. Proclamation Declaring May 6, 2010 as “A Day of Prayer in Hickory” in Recognition of National Day of Prayer
C. Proclamation – Proclaiming the Week of May 2 – 8, 2010 as “Municipal Clerks Week” in the City of Hickory
D. Approval to Open Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. - Library full and part-time staff are scheduled to participate in a half-day staff training session on readers advisory resources and techniques on May 19, 2010. Therefore, staff requests approval to not open the two (2) City libraries until 1:00 p.m. on May 19, 2010. Providing readers advisory assistance regularly is one of the most basic functions of any public library and library customers expect staff to be knowledgeable about all genres. Duncan Smith, creator of the nationally-recognized online resource NoveList has been invited to conduct this workshop.
E. Approve Resolution to Discard Library Materials to the Friends of the Library for Their Fourth Saturday Book Sales April – June, 2010 - The Friends of the Library collect donated books and other materials throughout the year for their book sales. The donated books and materials are out of date, in poor condition or are no longer needed to meet the collection development goals of the library. There are 1,862 discarded library materials to be donated. The proceeds ultimately benefit the library, which is an appropriate means of disposing of unneeded materials.
F. Approval of Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s First-Time Homebuyer’s Program:
Adam C. Roberts 1330 5th Street, Unit 186 - Approval for up to $5,000 (Tara Woods)
Laura E. Tipton 1226 1st Avenue, NW - Approval for up to $6,500
Christopher W. Wildeman 1003 16th Street, SE - Approval for up to $6,500
Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the City’s Community Development Block Grant Program. Martha H. Thomas of 15 12th Street, NW is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City’s 2009 Urgent Repair Program for emergency related repairs not to exceed $5,000. Funds are budgeted through the City’s Community Development Department funding received in FY 2009-2010. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of all the above.
G. Award Bid and Approval of Contract With Moss-Marlow Building Co., Inc. for Repairs to the Henry Fork River Regional Recreation Park Picnic Shelter in the Amount of $133,575 - The Henry Fork River Regional Recreation Park Picnic Shelter was damaged by fire in January 2010 and suffered damage to the restroom, kitchen and part of the wooden shelter structure. Informal bids were advertised on March 22, 2010; five (5) bids were received and on April 8, 2010 they were opened and read. Said bids ranged from $133,575 to $182,400, with Moss-Marlow Building Co., Inc. being the low bidder. All costs for repairs are covered under the City’s insurance policy and will be paid directly to the contractor by the insurance carrier. Removed from the consent agenda by Alder Patton to clarify ask why this reimbursement from insurance is coming back through the council. She wants the city to go ahead and start on the project. Manager Berry essentially stated that it was procedural. Approved with Unanimous consent.
H. Transfer of Cemetery Lots in Oakwood Cemetery (Section 46, Lot No. 3, Block A, Spaces 1, 2, 3 and 4) From Alfred Raphael Headen, Jr. to Stephen D. Shores, David H. Shores, Robert B. Shores and James W. Shores (Document Prepared by Charles D. Dixon)
I. Approve Contract With Marlowe & Company for Federal Government Consulting Services in the Amount of $18,750 - City Council on April 6, 2010 directed staff to work with Marlowe & Company to research the possibility of applying for the Community Trade Adjustment Assistance Program Federal Grant. Said grant project will be to obtain federal funding for approximately $2.3 million dollars in infrastructure expenses associated with the development of a data center-related business park at River Road. The contract with Marlowe & Company is a limited contract for five (5) months through September 30, 2010 in the amount of $18,750.
J. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 20
1. To budget a total of $1,200 of International Council donations in the International Council expenditure line item to be used for the International Springfest event.
2. To appropriate $3,101 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Seminar Registration line item ($1,401) and in the Training, Meals and Lodging line item ($1,700). This amendment is necessary to provide funds for two investigators to attend training on forensic video analysis and the law. $3,045 represents a part of the remaining Police State Reimbursement balances from previous years that
rolled into Fund Balance at year end. Therefore an appropriation is necessary.
3. To appropriate $3,045 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Legal Services line item to pay for 24 hour legal support. $3,045 represents a part of the remaining Police State Reimbursement balances from pervious years that rolled into Fund Balance at year end. Therefore an appropriation is necessary.
4. To budget a $1,000 donation from Hickory Springs for landscaping at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library.
5. To appropriate $16,000 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Planning Department's Vacant Building Revitalization Grant line item. This appropriation provides matching funds to assist the Armory Building in renovating the exterior of their building. This includes a new roof, repair gutters and flashing and to replace window glass. This building is currently approximately 63% vacant.
A. Report of Alderman Meisner’s Expenses for the 2010 NLC Congressional Conference in Washington, DC to be Held From March 13 - 17, 2010; registration - $495, airfare - $595– Alderman Meisner reimbursed the City $347.90 for Spouse Expenses
B. Report of Alderwoman Patton’s Travel Expenses to the 2010 NLC Congressional Conference in Washington, DC From March 14 – 17, 2010; registration - $525; hotel - $807.24; airfare - $357.90; per diem - $168; airline baggage fee - $50
C. Report of Alderman Seaver’s Travel Expenses to the 2010 NLC Congressional Conference in Washington, DC From March 13 to March 16, 2010; registration - $445; hotel - $807.24; airfare - $267.90; per diem - $197; mileage - $52; parking - $16; taxi fares - $37; airline baggage fee - $23
D. Report of Mayor Wright’s Travel Expenses to the 2010 NLC Congressional Conference in Washington, DC From March 14 – March 17, 2010; registration - $445; hotel - $807.24; airfare - $1089.90; per diem - $180; mileage - $52; taxi fare - $24 – Although not required by City Policy, Mayor Wright chooses to reimburse the City $756.37 due to flight changes
E. Report of Mayor Wright’s Expenses for the 2010 Catawba County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting Held in Hickory, NC on March 25, 2010 – registration - $25
F. Report of Alderman Seaver’s Expenses for the 2010 Catawba County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting Held in Hickory, NC on March 25, 2010 – registration - $25
New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Approval of Economic Development Agreement With Turbotec Products, Inc. - Turbotec Products, Inc. is to be located at 2042 Fairgrove Church Road, SE, and the adjacent five acres, Parcel. Turbotec Products, Inc. has 35 years of experience in heat exchanger technology and serves a wide variety of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration applications. They are requesting economic development incentives based upon a total new investment of $3,500,000 in the amount of 75% of the real and business personal property taxes for three years with a maximum total grant of $33,750. In year one it would be a maximum of $7,500 and year two the maximum of $13,125 and year three would be the maximum of $13,125. Catawba County will grant economic development incentives in the same proportionate amount and North Carolina has given a One North Carolina Grant to Turbotec Products in the amount of $79,863. This project meets and exceeds the minimum requirements of the City of Hickory Economic Development Assistance Guidelines that require a minimum investment of $1,000,000 and annual wages that are at or above the median industrial wage for Catawba County. Julie Pruett of the EDC made this presentation. The products produced by this company are energy efficient and meet energy star ratings. They promote green operations and programs and merit incentives as a most favored business under Green Energy standards. They plan to create 73 jobs over the next three years. These jobs will pay on average $37, 403 per year plus full benefits. The current Catawba County wage is $32,500 per year. The payout is a maximum of $7,500 in year one and $13, 125 for years two and three. They must meet minimum thresholds in job creation and investment. Clawbacks will be included if they don't met the minimum agreements. Sustaining of the jobs that they must sustain the jobs for an additional three years. Mayor Wright sated that 73 people (290 family members) will benefit from these jobs at a cost of $400 per job. The Mayor stated this is tremendous and that he wishes they could invest $4,000,000 and create 10,000 jobs like this. The council gave unanimous consent.
2. Petition 10-02 – Rezoning of the Property Located at 602 7th Avenue, NE From R-4 Residential to OI-2 Office and Institutional - This 1.77 acre property is located at 602 7th Avenue, NE and is owned by LTL Development, LLC and Lenoir-Rhyne College, Inc. The property owners petitioned to have the property rezoned from R-4 Residential to OI-2 Office and Institutional. The Hickory Future Land Use and Transportation Plan classifies the property as Primary Residential. The Land Development Code states that rezonings to OI-2 are inconsistent with the Primary Residential future land use classification unless the properties are within ¼ mile of an existing NC-1, NC-2, C-1 or C-2 zoning district or the property has frontage on a major thoroughfare. The proposed rezoning would be inconsistent with Hickory by Choice because subject properties do not meet the aforementioned requirements. However, the properties are directly adjacent to university property and since its expansion, conditions have changed. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on March 24, 2010 conducted a public hearing and voted unanimously in favor of the rezoning. Staff finds the request is inconsistent with the current Hickory by Choice but does recommend approval of the rezoning as it responds to the changing conditions around Lenoir-Rhyne University. Dave Leonetti made the presentation which Council approved unanimously.
3. Approve Proposed Amendment to the Hickory City Code; Chapter 20 Nuisances, Sections 20-1, 20-2 and 20-3 - This Public Hearing is to propose revisions to the City’s Code of Ordinances, Chapter 20 Nuisances, Sections 20-1, 20-2 and 20-3. The current ordinance fails to address certain conditions that may constitute nuisances and recent changes in the North Carolina General Statutes related to the nuisances. The ordinance amendment includes the term “graffiti” to be added as a defined term and listed as a condition constituting a nuisance. Junked motor vehicles will be defined as more than five `years old and appears to be worth less than $500, and finally, the ordinance will contain language in dealing with property owners who chronically violate the nuisance ordinance. City Council in a January 2010 workshop proposed a partnership program that would split the cost of the cleanup of graffiti 50/50 with the property owners. That program can still be implemented if City Council chooses to do so in conjunction with the ordinance amendment. The ordinance amendments will become effective as of October 1, 2010 upon Council’s approval.
Reed Baer made the presentation about the three amendments. He started out be addressing the issue of Junk vehicles. The Statutes are Chapter 168-303 and 168-200 of NC General Statutes.
A Junk vehicle does not display a current license plate. If it does have a current license plate. then it can't be considered a Junk vehicle. The vehicle is partially dismantled or wrecked, cannot be self propelled in the manner in which it was intended, or it is more than 5 years old and worth less than $100. The only change they propose is to change the value from $100 to $500.
Alderman Lail asked a question about being able to keep a vehicle in these conditions in a garage or out of public view. Lt. Baer agreed. Alder Patton asked about the vehicle being covered. Lt. Baer stated yes if it is an approved vehicle cover.
Lt. Baer went over the statute involving repeat offenders. Currently each violation is addressed by a separate process. The new statute is designed for Chronic violators. These violators are anyone who owns property and has been given a notice of violation three times under the Public Nuisance Ordinance. Currently they have 5 to 6 violators that they are dealing with 9 to 10 times and going through separate processes. The proposed amendment would allow the City to take action to remedy the violation and place a lien on the property and collected as unpaid taxes, if the payment is not made. Upon a fourth violation Code enforcement would not have to start the whole process over again, but simply send employees to abate the nuisance and the costs would be assessed as above.
Alderman Lail asked if you own a building and it was tagged by Gang members or people beyond your control, would you be considered a chronic offender? Lt. Baer stated, "if the City chose to label that person a chronic offender." Alderman Lail asked if the city has the discretion to label someone a chronic offender or not? Lt. Baer stated that he was going to go through the hearing process.
Alder patton asked about a nuisance issue with a trailer park in the Highland area that has chronic issues. She stated that there are problems there with drugs and gangs. They do the very minimum they can get away with, can this be used there. Paraphrasing, Lt. Baer stated that it could. It would be a case by case basis. Individual trailers would be addressed. Alderman Lail stated that what he thought was being talked about were criminal nuisances. This would not address criminal nuisances, such as calls for service. This applies only to Chapter 20.
Alderman Guess asked what would prevent the property owner from saying that they permitted this Graffiti (which would cause it to not fall under this definition). Lt. Baer stated that they would have to prove that during the hearing process. Alderman Guess stated, So they couldn't give permission after the fact. Lt. baer stated they would have to prove it in the hearing. Alderman Lail stated, so the Police Chief would have to adjudicate to determine if something like this happens. Lt. Baer agreed.
Alderman Lail stated, so if a property is chronically tagged, then they could be considered a chronic offender, then after the third hearing, you would no longer have any hearings? Lt. Baer stated that stated that after someone is a chronic offender, then you would not have to have the meeting. If after the 10-15-10 days they chose to do nothing, then they could be labeled a chronic offender. There would be three separate hearings.
No one spoke against the Proposal
Speaking in favor of the proposal
Bobby Bush represented Hickory Springs Manufacturing. He stated that if you care for something and it means something to you, then you take care of it. If your building is tagged on a repeat basis, then hopefully you will get some support from the police department. He doesn't believe that intent is to leave you out their on your own to protect you property. We don't want downtown Hickory to become a slum. we want to encourage business and consumers to come downtown and if becomes like downtown Detroit, then we aren't going to be able to do that.
Jason Yates spoke next and stated that he really supports this program, because it makes all property owners responsible and accountable to all other property owners and the physical ramifications of upkeeping their property for the generation of the properties. It is very important to level the playing field for all affected people. Unfortunately all owners do not show others responsibility. He feels very strongly because three years ago he had an incident where some vulgarities were painted on a building behind the Tap Room (it stayed there for 3 to 4 weeks) and during the International Spring Festival it caused him to lose some patrons. He approached the owner to remedy the situation and he would not. He asked the owner if he minded if he would clean it himself and he ended up doing so. Everyone was hurt because of someone else's inaction.
Gene Glaze represented the Downtown Development Association and is a property owner. He stated that Graffiti is a problem and most people get it. If you don't remove the graffiti quickly, then it is going to attract more graffiti, property values will suffer, and it will affect everyone's property values. It can happen anywhere. His own property has been targeted a half dozen times over the past 6 or 8 months. Most property owners get rid of it within an hour. People may own property and may not even know that the building has been tagged. They may not see their building every month or 6 weeks. This provides a way to let them know that there is a problem here. There are also some people that can't afford it and this opens that up -- this helps people with funding. Some people don't care and this will address that. There are a lot of people that won't remove it unless they were made to remove it or it is less expensive than the city makes them remove it.
Alder Fox asked Lt. Baer to go through the Pilot Program. $25,000 will be set aside. There will be a $1,000 per property cap suggested for each property. It will be coordinated with a media event to allow property owners to sign up. The process will be to call into the police department to file an official report, the police department then will coordinate with the planning department to meet with the property owners to verify that the graffiti is there. The property owner will sign a waiver agreeing to allow the contractor to do the work. The city will then pay the contractor and then the property owner will be billed for there part of the cleaning. If there is a failure to pay then the property owner will then be turned over to the collections agency.
Mayor Wright asked if there were any limitations on how much would be spent per particular property? How much does it cost to clean up an 8 foot by 15 foot graffiti? Lt. Baer stated that it depends on the surface. It could be a couple thousand dollars. Alder fox stated that we have 10, 12, 15 years worth of graffiti. Since we are proposing an ordinance, if we can have a pilot program of 6 months to a year, then we would have some property owners step forth and we could get a major portion of the graffiti cleaned up. We can get ahead of the game instead of lagging behind.... Once the pool of money is gone then it is gone.
Alder Patton stated that you could have one property owner with ten pieces of property that they don't take care of and they could zap half the fund and he has been at fault of not taking care of his properties for a long time and knowing what his responsibilities are. That is part of her concern about using funds with no limitation on the property owner.
Alderman Lail stated that the reality is that we are talking about high impact areas -- Downtown. And you can take those funds and probably do some good. And other major corridor areas where people coming in travel and maybe some discretion on what makes sense in terms of cleaning up and then revisiting this in six months. He is not in favor of doing the program and rolling straight to the amendment. He believes they should be considered separately.
Alder Fox stated that one of the areas that are affected by this is not just downtown, it is the areas of revitalization that they have already mapped out. Where the empty buildings are, this was one of their top goals for this year. The area down old Lenoir road is just riddled with graffiti. She stated that she feels the pilot program will dislodge the property owners. Mayor Wright stated that with the sunset, that the property owners will be subject to sanction, Alder Patton stated that she feels it is incumbent upon property owners who is probably looking for the city to play catch up. They have known the problem and they haven't done anything about it.
Manager Berry stated that as a point of clarification. The Ordinance does not go into effect until October 1st, 2010. The design is that with or without a program they can do public awareness for a 6 month period of time. People will know if they don't come into compliance that they will be subject to the procedure that Lt. Baer outlined.
Alderman Lail stated that he does agree that graffiti is a problem and it is speculated that graffiti breeds graffiti. He believes it is something that can't be totally ignored, but he does believe that it is the wrong approach in this economy. It is not the role of local government to hammer somebody with a stick. There are people that are tagged that really can't afford to (pay for the cleanup). Mayor Wright stated that he knows people that are taking desperate measures to get their property taxes paid. He also stated that there is a cost of graffiti that goes beyond just the dollars of cleanup.
He had a long conversation with a man who bought property here that didn't understand that we are a city of 100,000 people during the daytime and we get a lot of shoplifting. We all know that when a murder happens here that the people know each other. It isn't random and you don't see that in statistics. When you see graffiti in a city like ours, that in all respects seems to be a home town type place that we see along thoroughfares like in New York, Chicago, and Washington DC. He believes it can be a deterrent to prosperity. He would like to see the pilot program subject to fix dollar amount, per fix dollar 50% match, and per owner amount. The further conversation stated that the ending date of the pilot program would be October 1, 2010.
There was some further discussion on the issue that further reiterated the points made above. And there were points of interjection made by manager Berry and Attorney Crone about the context of the procedures taking place during this meeting and whether or not to pass the other amendments without the graffiti amendment. The Mayor stated that there is a grace period and at the next meeting they are going to discuss an assistance program. If there are serious flaws found during the grace program, then they can deal with it. It does have a negative impact. Visitors notice this. Alderman Lail stated that he is not in any way, shape, or form in favor of graffiti, but he doesn't think it is government's job or right for the city in this economy to pass more regulations on property owners.
The council voted 5 (Wright, Seaver, Lail, Fox, Patton) for - 1 (Lail) against. The Mayor made a motion to direct staff to bring recommendations concerning a program to provide financial relief for property owners who in good faith try to comply with our intent to eliminate graffiti in high visibility areas. The program would end concurrently with the October 1st date. The motion carried unanimously.
The Hound wants to get real on this issue. I lived through the Carter years in the late 70s and they were pretty bad and now we are in a full blown depression. I have heard it said many times. The Depression wasn't so bad if you had a job. Bingo!!!
You may be thinking, Oh boy, he is out there. No, I don't think I am. We're worried about cleaning paint off of buildings that are crumbling in many cases -- is that not ironic? I think that people are refusing to understand that our country is economically in the wilderness. People just don't have a clue about the basic fundamentals of economics and money. Money has to be taken from someone in order to spend it. There was more of a discussion based around the Pilot Program, than there was about the graffiti issue itself. What is the cause of it?
The Mayor is talking on one side about people having to desperately grasp for dollars to pay their tax bill and on the other hand he is talking about how there is a cost that goes beyond cleanup. There is also the reality of the actual dollar figure that this is going to cost to clean up that has not ever been discussed by council, city staff, or code enforcement. Go look at Huffman Hosiery and tell me how much that will cost to clean up and then multiply that by a minimum 100 and probably more like 500. The Council is putting the cart before the horse and going into this blindly. What is this going to cost?
Then we have Gene Glaze, who seems like a nice gentleman that really cares about our community, talking about funding this cleanup. His words were that if you don't remove the graffiti quickly, then it is going to attract more graffiti, then in the next breath he talks about how his own property has been targeted a half dozen times over the past 6 to 8 months.
Can you see the illogical summation? You are telling me that if you clean it up, then it will stop and then you have cleaned it up and it hasn't stopped, it has happened 6 times in the same place.
I agree with Mrs. Patton in her statement about owners not taking care of their property, we see that with the real problem that involves all of the dilapidated buildings around here. I think that is what Mr. Bush and Mr. Yates are getting at. I understand where Alderman Lail is coming from about property owners having the onus of more regulations placed on them in these difficult economic times. I think that business owners do need to be given ample opportunity to clean up their property, but yes they need to clean it up.
The money factor is weighed down by the way the city, and government in general, goes about contracting a favored business to do these procedures. I don't like graffiti either and yes I want something done about it. But $25,000 ain't gonna go very far, when the city pays people $100 an hour to do this. If the city would partner with volunteer groups and help facilitate and coordinate the purchase of materials through and directed by the Community Advisory Committee, then we could get buy-in from Church and Civic organizations and along with the public awareness and education campaign we can get somewhere.
I like Alderman Lail's suggestion also that minors need to have identification and sign a waiver in order to purchase spray paint and tools used to do this. I also think it would be great to have a graffiti art center in this community. If we don't get to the fundamental root cause of why this happens, then all of these efforts will cause money to be flushed down the drain that would be better off not being spent at all. The times we live in are not conducive to any type of wasteful expenses or the consequences thereof.
New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Quarterly Financial Report - Warren Wood delivered this presentation. They are wrapping up next years budget. There is a 42 million gap to close and most of that work has been done. Warren highlighted a couple of projects. $17.5 financing for the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Project funds were secured was financing at 2.48% by a state revolving loan. This is a $27 million project and it will take 2 1/2 years to complete. Bonds might not be necessary to facilitate the project. The Cripple Creek Project ($2.5 million) was secured from grants and interest loan forgiveness. $1.9 million is financed at 0% over 10 years and $1.19 million comes from the Clean Water Trust Fund. Clement Boulevard will be completed this summer. The traffic signal upgrade is 100% grant money. Will be completed in August 2011.
Through the first nine months of the year, the city has received 78% of budgeted revenues it should be 81% to 82% in revenues compared to the 5-year trend. while the city has also lowered expenses by 2%. He attributed this to the hiring freeze. Revenues are $5.5 million over expenditures. That number will drop by the end of the fiscal year.
Looking at the water-sewer fund, he stated that the projections are right on target as far as revenues and they have held up relatively well during the economic downturn. The city has received 67% of budgeted revenues while it should be a little over 68% in revenues compared to the 5-year trend. the city has had expense of 54% compared to the 5-year trend of a little over 60%. They make a lot of debt service payments in the last 3 months of the fiscal year. Revenues are $3.1 million over expenditures.
Cash and Investments of $46.1 million are thrown off because CD's are now paying 1.5.% to 2%, which is better than the .1% they received a few months ago. Usually investments are spread across investments 1/3-1/3-1/3, right now the city has 64% of its investments invested in US Agency securities.
The last time we went through a recession we saw a drop in the tax base between 2003 and 2005, if the trend holds true it will effect the 2011-2012 budget. they are keeping an eye on this. Alderman Lail stated that is a function of rate too. We have kept the rate steady with regards to revaluation. We can make that green look however we want to. Warren stated that's a good point. This is all based on a 50-cent rate. alderman Lail stated that what this shows him is that since 2001, this area hasn't done much in terms of rising property values. Warren sated that in 1999 the rate was 55-cents and was dropped after the subsequent revaluation to 50-cents. Warren stated that they can make this look however they want to make it look based on how they want to set the rate.
Building Permit activity included a $30 million permit from Catawba Valley Medical Center. That property is not taxable, so it will not help increase projected future revenues. Without that permit, the city only issued $40.3 million in building permits, in 2006-2007 it was $76.5 million.
Warren stated that the Employment security commission is showing that since December we have seen a net gain of 1,400 jobs. The numbers show that we have lost 40,000 jobs since the peak in 2,000.
Positive issues going forward: Property Tax value has not declined, overall decline in revenue has bottomed out, strong fund balance position, $1 million in reserve for fuel spikes, contingency funding in place, City's health insurance costs are stable, inflation remains relatively low.
The Hound seems to think that Alderman Lail and Mr. Wood don't mind raising your property tax rate, which is what I have said the city is going to do all along. I am figuring that the revaluation will be a little inflated, which will mean that your rate is going back to 55-cents per thousand on the revaluation, it could and would be worse if revaluation were allowed to truly reflect the real estate depression.
Person Requesting to be heard: Ray Hunt stated that he thought he knew what was wrong with Hickory's downtown. He told the story of how he put the advertisement below into the Hickory Daily Record in 1984. He talked about how he had 5 city employees that came into his building and tried to condemn it. He is the property owner and they didn't call him about nothing, He stated as a matter of common sense they should advise the property owner of any structural safety hazard, especially from the building inspection department. If you expect the renter who is behind in his rent to inform the property owner... he's not going to ask the property owner to spend more money. He asked if the copy of the advertisement he passed out meant anything to anybody? He has had 70 to 80 of these framed around town. What he would like the council to do is that the building inspection department (or anyone that does an inspection) to show the property owner the courtesy of mailing him or her a copy of it? When it is a structural or safety matter, the owner should be contacted. He asked again if the copies of the advertisement meant anything to anybody? He talked about how he has taken a copy to the dentist and the receptionist had placed it in an area for all to see. She stated it was an eye test and an IQ test.
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