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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of August 16, 2011

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 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, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

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 8/16/2011 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.
Invocation by Rev. Bud Zehmer, Pastor, Church of the Master

Consent Agenda

A. Approval of Tax Refund, as Recommended by Catawba County Tax Office, to National City Commercial Capital Co. LLC in the Amount of $620.79 - This request for refund in the amount of $620.79 is due to an incorrect listing on leased equipment in 2009. Business personal property listed by the company was leased to Duke Energy Corp. at the Hickory garage and was also listed as public utility with the State by Duke Energy Corp. The leased equipment was listed correctly in 2010 and 2011. The records have been checked and verified by the Tax Collector’s Office.

B. Request for Approval of Agreement of Conditions and Resolution to Accept Grant from North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) for Four Lidars and Four Pole-Mounted Radar Systems at a Cost of $32,000 (GHSP - $24,000; City - $8,000) - Hickory Police Department requests approval of Agreement of Conditions and Resolution to Accept Grant Funds from the NC GHSP in order to purchase four lidars and four pole mounted radar systems at a cost of $32,000 (GHSP - $24,000; City - $8,000). Lidars will cost $3,500 each and will be placed in each PACT for use to estimate speeding vehicles in order to thwart traffic crashes and injuries to citizens. The polemounted radar systems will cost $4,500 each and will be placed in high traffic areas to get the attention of oncoming drivers as a reminder to slow down.

C. Request From Hickory Downtown Development Association for Use of Union Square for 2011 Oktoberfest on October 7, 8 and 9, 2011 (Event Start Time: Noon on Friday, October 7th; Event End Time – 5:00 on Sunday, October 9th)

D. Municipal Agreement With NC Department of Transportation for Inspection of Bridges on City’s Street System in the Amount of $4,160 The Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1978 requires the inspection of all bridges on a cycle not to exceed two years. NC DOT is requested to employ a qualified engineering firm to perform the inspections and analysis of the structures and to prepare the necessary structural inventory and appraisal forms for submission to the Federal Highway Administration. The inspections are to be performed in Spring, 2012. The Federal Highway Administration participates up to 80%, with the City being responsible for 20% in the amount of approximately $4,160. Reports for each structure will be submitted to the Engineering Department. Funds are budgeted

E. Renewal Option of Lease Agreement Dated March 5, 1996 with FMD Aviation, LLC (Frank Drendle, Owner) For An Additional Five (5) Years as Noted in the Original Lease FMD Aviation LLC constructed a hangar located on the south side of the Hickory Regional Airport in March, 1996, and desires to utilize their lease option for an additional five (5) years. All original terms and conditions will remain in full force and effect. FMD Aviation LLC is currently paying $1,321.68 per month to the City of Hickory. The lease agreement states every twelve-month period following the initial twelve-month period shall be adjusted by two percent (2%) or CPI, whichever is lower. The 5-year renewal period will expire in March, 2016. Staff recommends approval to renew the lease option with FMD Aviation, LLC for an additional five (5) years.

F. Grace Chapel to US 321 Road Project – Temporary Construction Easements for Two Properties in the Total Amount of $1,800. The following two easements are necessary to construct the Grace Chapel to US 321 Road Project. The City is responsible for acquiring the temporary construction easements, and NC DOT is responsible for the construction funding.

C. Phillip and Brenda Suttlemyre $1,300 Richard D. Berry, Jr. and Mary F. Berry $500 (Total - $1,800)
These amounts have been agreed to by the property owners, who have signed all the appropriate documents subject to approval and payment. Staff recommends approval of the negotiated transactions and purchase of the temporary construction easements.

G. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs
Ms. Liza Ramirez is being recommended to City Council for First-Time Homebuyers Assistance to purchase a house located at 1920 15th Avenue SW, Hickory, in an amount not to exceed $6,500 for assistance with down payment and closing costs. The First- Time Homebuyers Assistance Loan is zero interest, no payments and repaid upon sale, refinance or payoff of first mortgage.
Ms. Debra Patterson, 240 2nd Street, SE, Hickory, is being recommended to City Council for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2010 Urgent Repair Program in an amount not to exceed $5,000.

H. Lease Agreement With Hickory Christian Academy for Classroom and Office/Conference Space at Neill W. Clark Jr. Recreation Park for an Initial Term of 10 Months and 15 days in the Amount of $1,851 Per Month - Hickory Christian Academy is a not-for-profit corporation which operates a private
Christian school for students in grades K-12 and is located adjacent to Neill W. Clark Jr. Recreation Park. Due to school facility constraints, school representatives approached the City about the possibility of leasing space beginning with the 2011-2012 school year. The leased space is located in the Neill Clark’s main building, and leasing of this space will have no adverse effect on any programs offered and conducted by the Parks and Recreation Dept. The lease agreement is for an initial term of 10 months and 15 days beginning August 17,2011 and continuing until June 30, 2012. The lease will automatically renew for successive one-year periods beginning July 1, 2012 and expiring June 30, 2016. Hickory
Christian Academy will pay the City $1,851 per month during the initial term of the lease.

I. Offer to Purchase and Contract By City of Hickory to Walter M. and Rebecca W. Craig for Property Located at 222 3rd Street SW (Catawba County PIN 3702-06-48-7586) in the Amount of $47,000. This offer to purchase and contract is for the .26-acre property located at 222 3rd Street SW, which is adjacent to the Hickory Police Department property. There is a structure located on the property. The property could be used for potential future expansion of the Police Department. The tax value is $48,200.

J. Proclamation – Proclaiming August 13 – 20, 2011 as “High Flying in Hickory Week” – North Carolina Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally

K. Resolution Opposing Various Electricity Rate Increases For North Carolina On July 1, 2011, Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC filed with the NC Utilities Commission for a general rate increase to be effective February, 2012 which includes substantial rate increases. This resolution opposes the rate increases to the public lighting tariff and the other various electricity rate increases that are proposed by Duke Energy.

L. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 3
1. To budget a $1,988 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company in the L.P. Frans Stadium Maintenance and Repair of Buildings line item. This claim check is for lightening damage at the stadium.

2. To appropriate $47,000 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Police Department Land line item. This appropriation is necessary to purchase property located at 222 3rd St. SW Hickory. This property is located adjacent to City property at 347 2nd Ave. SW and could be used for potential expansion of the Hickory Police Department.

3. To re-appropriate $55,044 of Water and Sewer Fund Balance to the Water Plant Maintenance and Repair of Equipment line item. This appropriation is necessary to pay Covington $29,058.20 for repair to the existing generator and Sunbelt $25,984.87 for the standby generator rental. These items were budgeted prior to the end of the fiscal year; however, work was not complete at that time. Therefore funds rolled back into Water and Sewer Fund Balance and a re-appropriation is necessary.

4. To transfer $69,295 from General Capital Reserve and $49,200 from the Library's budget for computer replacements to the Information Technology Computer Equipment, Maintenance and Repair of Computer Equipment and Departmental Supplies operational line items. The transfer of these funds in addition to $44,650 currently budgeted in the Information Technology Computer Equipment line item are needed to pay to convert the Library to a virtual desktop environment called Virtual Desktop Integration (VDI). VDI transitions from the common individual personal computer per station to a computer monitor that is integrated directly to the server. The project converts 75 computer stations and enables future computer
replacements throughout the organization to convert to virtual desktop as well. The project totals $163,145 and, as a result of this conversion, reduces the individual computer replacement cost by approximately $1,000 and doubles the useful life of each station.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of the Property of the City of Hickory and Public Right-of-Way Located Along 9th Street NE and Cloninger Mill Road - The Cloninger Mill Property is a city owned, 79-acre tract of land in northeast Hickory and is adjacent to Lake Hickory. A portion of this property is already in the City limits, and the remaining 67.74 acres is recommended to be annexed. This property was first identified as a potential park site in the 1979 Parks and Recreation Master plan and was recommended again as a future park site in 1997 when the Parks and Recreation Master Plan was updated. Following an assessment of the property, it was determined that portions of the site were best suited for commercial and residential use. With this realization, staff identified a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the intersection of Highway 127 and Cloninger Mill Road that was best suited for commercial development. Likewise, an analysis of the property identified land adjacent to 9th Street NE that was well suited for residential use. The remaining balance of the property has been set aside as a future park, with the recommendation that proceeds from the sale of the commercial and residential property be used to help start park development. In 2008, planning began on the development of a master plan for the park site. City Council accepted the Cloninger Mill Park Master Plan in March of 2009. The City of Hickory has submitted a petition for the contiguous voluntary annexation of 67.74 acres of property and public street right-of-way located along 9th Street NE and Cloninger Mill Road, the same being three parcels bearing PIN Nos. 3715-19-50-8795 (Deed Book 0789, Page 0127), 3715-19-60-6388 (Deed Book 1939, Page 1441) and 3715-19-70-2637 (Deed Book 0758, Page 0345). The property is located within the City’s extraterritorial jurisdiction area (ETJ) and is zoned R-1 Residential and Neighborhood Commercial (NC). The property is currently publicly owned, and the majority of the property is planned to be part of a future public park. The public street right-of-way consists of approximately 860 linear feet of 9th Street, NE, which is an improved street. The property meets all August 16, 2011 5 the statutory requirements for voluntary contiguous annexation, and adequate public services and infrastructure are available. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on August 5, 2011.

Cloninger Mill Park - 3rd meeting - The Master Plan - 3/10/2009

You can go back and read my excerpts from the first meeting that was held September 24, 2008 here (1st Cloninger Mill Park Meeting) and the second meeting on January 15, 2009 meeting here (2nd Cloninger Mill Park Meeting).

Here are Links to pictures and schematics that were presented at the Master Plan meeting along with my previous Google photo of the property (a couple aren't 100% focused, but you can see the end result):

My Google aerial photo of the property
Black and White Aerial Map
Final Master Plan photos 1 / 2 / 3
Site Analysis (1/15/2009) / Slope analysis / Soil Analysis / Site Photos

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Second Reading - Lease Agreement With Hickory Christian Academy for Classroom and Office/Conference Space at Neill W. Clark Jr. Recreation Park for an Initial Term of 10 Months and 15 days in the Amount of $1,851 Per Month Due to time constraints, Staff is requesting a second reading on this item. - Mac McLeod came addressed the council about the fact that Hickory Christian Academy has outgrown their current facilities. The city has had numerous meetings with Hickory Christian Academy related to this matter. (The Hound - This is the former North State Academy, so it definitely suits the purpose.)

The Hound's General Comments - This weeks meeting lasted less than 20 minutes. Mayor Wright and Alderman Meisner weren't present. Alderman Lail presided as the Mayor Pro-Tem. It is good to see the Cloninger Mill Park agenda moving forward. I hope you will take a look at the amenities that this park will offer.

One issue that was not pulled from the Consent Agenda was the issue of Oktoberfest. I am glad we didn't hear the rancor related to this issue that we did in relation to Hickory Alive, although I know for a fact that it is the exact same type of event, only held on a much grander scale over a three day period. I hope when next year roles along and the issue of Hickory Alive is brought to the fore again that we see the same tolerance and acceptance that we see offered to Oktoberfest.

It is also my hope that the audience that reads this newsletter will take the time to listen to the presentation from Taylor Dellinger of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. This presentation relates the pieces of the puzzle related to the Hickory area's demographics and what needs to be addressed along the Highway 70 corridor, the South side of Hickory, and the Highland area.

Taylor Dellinger Presents Hickory Metro Census to the Future Economy Council of Catawba County

We have to accept how this area has developed and take the bad with the good related to those issues and understand that we can make positive adjustments to right this ship. There are members of our community that are working hard towards moving Hickory into a positive position going forward, but there are others who want to stand pat, because they are more comfortable with the status quo. We need to start helping the average people of Hickory or I will assure you that we are going to see a mass exodus out of here. You know that this is right in your heart of hearts. If you have a business, what will this mean for that business? What will that mean for the growth of that business? Most people are already affected by this. People need to understand that the surest path to failure is only looking out for oneself and not helping others. The smallest gestures toward helping your neighbors can make the biggest difference in the world.


harryhipps said...

While I am glad Oktoberfest will go on this year as it has in years, the favoritism shown downtown that is not extended to other individuals and entities is disgusting. I don't see how Council can live with their complete lack of integrity or competence.

Silence DoGood said...

Oh...Oh...I think I can answer that!! They're elected! And they continue to be elected, reinforcing that behavior.

James Thomas Shell said...

Elected? Hell, they don't even do that. They are all running unopposed. I remember growing up and studying about the Soviet Union. One of the issues we discussed in 5th grade was how the electoral process "worked" in the Soviet Union. Guess what? That same process has come to MERKA.

I have nothing against Bruce, Brad, or Danny; but it is a joke that no one should be running against them. I have also been disappointed that three people who are supposed to represent the interests of Economic Commerce have done so little to do just that.

I have in the past railed against Jill and Sally for being anti-business, but I'm not seeing anything from any of the others, including Hank and the Mayor being done to bring Economic Commerce to the area. I hear a lot about what Scott Millar and the EDC are doing, but they aren't elected and they are not Hickory City Officials. I hear alot about the responsibilities of Mick Berry, but Mick Berry is not (and should not be) responsible for every issue/process brought to the city's

It is time that these people bring something forward or surrender their income derived from being a Council person, because no one should get paid thousands of dollars and benefits to go sit at 24 council meetings a year (which equals about 24 hours), a few PR stunts, a few "information" sessions, a few "retreats, a few neighborhood meetings, or to resolve a few constituent issues a year."

They need to bring something to the table. They are practically making more to do this little bit of "work" than what I am making to bust my --- in a kitchen for 2,000 hours a year.

Silence DoGood said...

The process adds validity. But you interestingly address another quandary I've pondered for some time, but haven't addressed. Now seems opportune. I keep reading about how this, that, and the other politician is going to stimulate business and create jobs. I even heard Bachmann declare today that under President (laugh, guffaw, snort) Bachmann, gas would be under $2.00 a gallon. According to Rick Perry, what this country needs is another good corporate tax decrease. And of course on the other side of the aisle, printing and injecting money into the system to keep the flow going is the right idea until things turn around. And right here in good ‘ol Hickory, the rule of thumb of those crackerjack business people elected to the City Council and the County Commission, the key to stimulating business is to keep taxes low on business and businessmen. Uh huh. That has worked so well we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the State. But the primary question that looms large is, how. How are they going to change things in this little region so drastically that business is beating each other over the head to come here? How can they offer that much of a tax incentive that CEO’s by the LearJet load are filing flight plans for Hickory NC? How is cutting the tax rate going to stimulate XYZ Inc. to create enough employment opportunities that it cuts unemployment? And how can you stay open and manufacture widgets if nobody is buying, despite what the tax rate is?

The truth? In my eyes, local politicians can set climates. An overly aging community is not conducive to providing a solid labor pool. Younger workers want quality education for their children and recreation, for the most part. Educated persons what amenities like arts, sciences, entertainment venues, multi-purpose parks, planned communities, which include mixed occupancy housing. They are typically a bit more relaxed in attitude and social mores concerning issues like drinking, religion, and sexual orientation. Watching Cooter and Billy Joe drive 300 miles in half-mile increments in a circle is not that amusing to most. But the climate we find being established is, “Hickory, NC - Retirement Mecca.”

So the reality is, they talk about cutting the tax rate as the only step to viability, but in reality, they set the attitude of the region through the legislation they embrace and the public discourse concerning alcohol, public venues, and kids socializing in groups. As a rational human being and you were located elsewhere in the country and read some of what has been discussed at the council meetings, unless you thought just like they do, what would you think about re-locating here? If you are not of like mind, would you uproot your family and bring them here, even with a 0.0% tax rate? Which takes me back to re-assert previous tirades from yours truly.

Learn from your history. But realize you can’t perpetuate it for very long or violate the lessons of; otherwise you find yourself learning the same lessons over and over again.

harryhipps said...

Blame is put on Raleigh. Blame is put on Washington DC. But they will never look into the mirror to see the source of the problem. Leadership around here is conceived of as publicly spitting out a few popular platitudes every now and then and with the ignorance and apathy we have around here that sells.
The sad thing is that the local media is awol and that is the only thing that the public follows. All you have to do to understand most peoples thoughts is look at the media and repeat that.
The public won't demand accountability and the leaders won't, or can't do the right thing out of any sense of altruism. So what, other than the eventual change in generations will change the paradigm?