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.
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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 1/18/2010 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:
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Invocation by Rev. Minnie Bryant of Mt. Pisgah AME Zion Church
A. Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of the Property of Martha Killian Located at 523 29th Avenue Drive, NW
B. Approval of Audit Contract With Martin Starnes & Associates, PLLC for Fiscal Year End June 30, 2011 in the Amount of $42,000.00 - Martin Starnes & Associates, PLLC has a three (3) year contract with the City to audit their books. Fiscal Year 2011 will be the second year of the contract. This years’ fee of
$42,000.00 is a 2.44% increase from last year’s fee of $41,000.00. Staff recommends approval.
C. Request From Hickory Downtown Development Association for Use of Union Square for 2011 Swinging Under the Stars on May 29, 2011 From 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m
D. 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’s Housing Rehabilitation Program:
Joyce Brown Amount not to exceed $10,000.00 242 8th Avenue Drive, SW
Sarah Lopes Amount not to exceed $10,000.00 404 3rd Avenue Drive, SE
Funds for the above are budgeted through the City’s former Rental Rehabilitation
Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the City’s
Community Development Block Grant Program.
Applicant Ruth Morgan of 1483 3rd Street Place, SW is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City’s 2010 Urgent Repair Program for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,000.00. Funds are budgeted through the City’s Community Development Department funding received in FY 2010-11.
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the above applicants.
E. Acceptance of VISION 100 Grant From the North Carolina Division of Aviation to Prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP); a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC) and to Assist in Runway Approach Obstruction Removal/Land Acquisition - The City of Hickory has been awarded a VISION 100 Grant from the NC Division of Aviation in the amount of $166,667.00 to prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and a Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures Plan mandated by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources and NC Division of Aviation. In addition to these plans, the grant includes assistance in the Hickory Regional Airport’s
Runway Approach Obstruction Removal/Land Acquisition Project. The project includes tree removal, possible land acquisition due to the removal of trees, surveying, etc. The federal share of the grant is $150,000.00 with the City’s share being 10% or $16,667.00.
F. Approval to Allocate Funds for Completion of Clement Boulevard Connector Project in the Amount of $430,423.00. - Additional funds are needed to close out the Clement Boulevard Connector Project which is 98% complete and open to the public. The additional costs include work on the US 321 median north of the Clement Blvd. NW intersection, i.e. engineering and construction costs totaling $65,000.00 along with additional construction costs to include required US 321 overlayment by NCDOT, concrete retaining wall revisions, additional traffic control message boards, sewer line relocation, guardrail for railroad gates, landscaping materials and intersection safety bollard materials totaling $365,423.00. A budget amendment is needed in the amount of $430,423.00 due to unanticipated requirements by the NCDOT,
design conflicts and adjustments to unit price quantities.
G. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 13
1. To budget a $444 insurance claim check from Allstate Insurance Company in the Police Departments Maintenance and Repair line item. This payment is for damage sustained to a police vehicle on 11-06-10.
2. To budget a $5,056 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the Parks and Recreation Departmental Supplies line item. This payment is for the fire loss of appliances in the Henry Fork River Regional Recreation Park picnic shelter.
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3. To transfer $6,826 from the Street Division Right of Way Acquisition line item to the Grace Chapel Rd./321 Connector Project Right of Way Acquisition line item. This is to budget the Right of Way acquisition expenditure in the Multi-Year Grant Project Fund instead of the General Fund.
4. To transfer $115,872 of unspent Capital Reserve Funds from Solid Waste to the Clement Boulevard Project. To transfer an additional $22,283 from the Water and Sewer- Fund Balance Appropriated and $292,268 from General Fund Balance- Appropriated to the Clement Boulevard Project. Costs for this project have exceeded the current funding due to unanticipated requirements from NCDOT, design changes to resolve utility conflicts, and final adjustments to unit price quantities. A total of $430,423 is needed to complete the Clement Boulevard Connector project.
H. Capital Project Ordinance Amendment No. 3
1. To budget a $115,872 transfer of unspent Capital Reserve Funds from Solid Waste in the Clement Boulevard Project. To budget a $22,283 transfer from the Water and Sewer- Fund Balance Appropriated and a $292,268 transfer from General Fund Balance-Appropriated in the Clement Boulevard Project. Costs for this project have exceeded the current funding due to unanticipated requirements from NCDOT, design changes to resolve utility conflicts, and final adjustments to unit price quantities. A total of $430,423 is needed to complete the Clement Boulevard Connector project.
New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Acceptance of Newly Proposed Hickory By Choice 2030 Comprehensive Plan - The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on December 1, 2010 voted unanimously to recommend the acceptance of the newly proposed Hickory By Choice 2030 Comprehensive Plan. Staff recommends acceptance.
a. Approval of Revised City of Hickory’s Land Development Code by Ordinance - The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on December 1, 2010 unanimously voted to recommend approval of the newly revised Land Development Code. The Planning Commission found the Land Development Code to be consistent with the proposed Hickory By Choice 2030. Staff recommends approval.
b. Approval of Revised City of Hickory’s Official Zoning Map by Ordinance - The Hickory Regional Planning Commission on December 1, 2010 unanimously voted to recommend approval of the newly revised Zoning Map. The Planning Commission found the Zoning Map to be consistent with the proposed Hickory By Choice 2030. Staff recommends approval. These public hearings were advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on January 7 and January 14, 2011.
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of January 18, 2011 - Addendum Hickory By Choice 2030
B. New Business - Departmental Reports –
1. Quarterly Financial Report - This year, the city is looking at problems with the general fund. So far with 50% of the year complete, the city has seen 56.38% of its revenues received, and the five-year average shows that 56.31% should have been received. The city feels that the numbers are good news. him him as to the 30 tax revenue comes in November, December, and January. The numbers so far reflect the revenues from the November and December, and once January's revenues come in that war reflect 95% of the monies that the city receive ( from property tax revenue). These numbers reflect less volatility in the revenue streams compared to what the city has seen over the last few years.
On the expenditure side, the five-year average shows that we should be at 48.71%%, but we're running above that and 50.02%. The numbers reflect a couple of projects that the city has going on.
The bottom line on the general fund is that the city has spent $4.28 million more than has been collected. The five-year average shows that the city should have spent right at $4.6 million more than it collected. city is close to where he they should be on these numbers. This is worse most of the city's struggles have been.
The water and sewer fund is the second-biggest fund and it makes up over 25% of the budget. With 50% of the year complete, the five-year average says that we should have received 45.4% of revenues. The city has received 45.2% of revenues. On the expenditure side the five-year average shows that the city should be at about 45.3% expended, but we are above that at 50.8%, because of the money invested in the Northeast waste water treatment plant project. the deficit and are expenditure should clean itself up over the next several months of the fiscal year. Money has been moved out of the water and sewer fund to the Northeast waste water treatment fund and other capital projects. If this is factored out, the numbers are in line.
Revaluation and property tax revenue, in talking to the county, the revaluation process has the initial numbers set for the city flat. Warren states that this is good news, because they believed that there would be a decline.
The concern is that there will be appeals. the volume of the level of appeals is the same as it was four years ago. The bad news is that the value of the appeals is higher. The County cannot give him the number. In Hickory, we are anticipating a loss of $76 million in properties tax base through the appeals (that would mean $380,000 in lost revenue for the city. Based on a $.50 per $1000 tax assessment). This will be built into the budget.
Property tax collections for the first half of the year or $15.7 million compared to $15.1 million for this time last year. Warren believes that this shows the trough of the recession was in 2009-2010. Property tax portion of the budget represents 68% of the total budget. The city continues to struggle with building permit activity over the last several years. When these numbers are doing well, the property tax numbers do well. The last three years have been a struggle. The numbers need to be about 2 to 2 1/2 times what we're seeing. the city is meeting its revenue projections own sales tax revenues. The numbers have not rebounded, but they have stabilized.
2. Approval of 2011 Federal Legislative Agenda - City staff has prepared a Federal Legislative Agenda for 2011 which lists key issues and talking points to discuss with our legislative delegation, which contains the City’s views on potential legislation or initiatives to change current laws along with projects that the City is seeking additional funding for with the help of members of our delegation. The Legislative Agenda is an important communication tool that guides staff and city leaders to successfully deliver the message on key issues. City Council will use this agenda with our Federal delegation in Washington, DC. Staff recommends approval.
a. Approval of Four (4) Goals by the City of Hickory for Submittal to the NCLM Advocacy Agenda for Consideration by the Board and Voting Delegates on January 20, 2011 in Raleigh - For the first time, the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM) is hosting a conference in Raleigh on January 20, 2011 for North Carolina cities to come together to develop a Legislative Agenda of priority items for the NCLM to pursue during the 2011 Long Session General Assembly. The City of Hickory has four (4) goals to submit for consideration that includes opposition to Interbasin Transfers; proposed changes to the economic tier methodology; recommendation of allowing counties to distribute E911 funds to secondary PSAPs and opposition to collective bargaining while strengthening current State law.
Ms. Surratt stated, several of the key issues that would be the focus of the federal legislative agenda for that the city of Hickory. Amongst those was the support of federal infrastructure legislation that uses a fair, fiscally responsible approach to regulations and rule changes. This would support infrastructure financing for transportation, wastewater, water and storm water. The city of Hickory supports the National League of cities in their efforts to seek legislation to provide that the additional funds for municipal and for structure, including long-term permanent sources of dedicated revenue, additional local option revenue sources, and state bond packages for and for structure needs.
The city opposes new EPA ozone standards, and opposes any reduction in ozone standards without the provision of resources that would allow the city and its partners to engage in additional reduction strategies.
During the discussion, Ald. Lail asked if this did not reflect the priorities set with Marlowe, lobbying firm, that were goals that they felt could be more easily achieved during the year. This does not reflect the priorities of the city in regards to transportation. This is not an all encompassing list.
Ald. Lail stated that he had a problem with to of the league of municipalities goals. He does not agree with supporting the expansion of the sales tax to include services or seeking legislation to revise the local transfer tax so that they can be adopted without a referendum. He does not support either one of those and he might be supportive if he gave authority to cities if they so chose to lead the this sales tax, but he reads this to be statewide and he cannot be supportive. He also does not believe that we should support legislation to change the way the local land transfer tax should be adopted. Just in order to make it easier to be adopted. There is a mechanism for counties the citizens to throw that tax in, if they so choose. The Mayor stated that the position on the sales tax is that it should be revenue natural. There is no basis to try and raise taxes to the state of North Carolina. Ald. Lail stated that he supports a motion to instruct the delegate to vote day on those two items. The Council voted unanimously to consent to voting no on those two items.
The Mayor stated that over the next few years he is going to call more people to go to Raleigh. The Mayor made a motion to support the other items on the agenda, which was unanimously consented to and Ald. Lail made a motion to appoint. Mayor Wright as the delegate representing Hickory at this conference, which was unanimously approved.
The Hound believes that the city should support legislation to readdress trade agreements on the federal and state level. That is the 10,000 pound elephant in the room related to our local economic problems. These agreements are not working. I am not against free trade when it is a two way street, but when these rules and regulations of foreign nations are not equal to our own, then we cannot compete and we will continue to see this race to the bottom that is destroying our economy, especially here on the local level.
This is where I have a problem with the Republicans. They seem to have just as much of a problem understanding economics as the other side does. There has to be a level playing field when it comes to foreign trade. That is what has destroyed our manufacturing base and thus the reason why we don't have a growing tax base or revenues to provide the amenities to enhance the quality of life of our local citizens. This has been going on for years, and other than weak attempts to address these concerns, I don't believe our local leaders have truly forced this issue. It's like they have given up. I think it should be the top priority on any agenda. Especially as far as federal legislation
We will never empower ourselves through government handouts and debt. We will only be able to strengthen ourselves by strengthening the foundation and principles of our local economy. What does that more?
The local economy, standard of living, and quality of life can only be improved by the expansion of commerce in the area. What are we doing as part of our local government initiatives to get this back on track?
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