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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Here is a summary of the agenda of the 4/17/2012 meeting. There
were a couple of important items that were discussed
at this meeting and the details are listed further
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Invocation by Rev. Bob Thompson, Pastor, Corinth Reformed Church
A. Presentation of Proclamation Honoring Hickory High School Key Club`
B. Presentation of Proclamation – Catawba County Partnership for Children – Week of the Young Child
C. Presentation of Proclamation Honoring Kate Griewisch – Most Decorated Athlete in the History of Lenoir-Rhyne University
A. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to Billy Heath in Fairview
B. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to Judy Ingold in Fairview Cemetery
C. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to Glenda McCorkle in Southside Cemetery
D. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from William H. Tallant, Jr., by and through his Attorney in Fact, Donna T. Heavner, to Florence C. Davis in Oakwood Cemetery
E. Special Event Permit Application for Skintimate Girls on the Run 5K Scheduled for Saturday, May 5, 2012 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm at L.P. Frans Stadium
F. Approve Pyrotechnic Display Permit at Iron Thunder Saloon Located at 2022 13th Avenue Drive SE on June 30, 2012 - Blue Ridge Harley Davidson has submitted a request to obtain permission to conduct a
public fireworks display at Iron Thunder Saloon located at 2022 13th Avenue Drive SE on June 30, 2012. The Fire Prevention Bureau will inspect the pyrotechnics display area prior to the event to ensure compliance with all guidelines.
G. Future Annexation Agreement – Jerry and Wenona Sowers – 1212 Beagle Lane in the Fox Chase Development- Jerry and Wenona Sowers have requested connection to the City’s water and sewer
system without being annexed. They have agreed to be annexed at some time in the future when the City finds it economically feasible to do so. The property is located at 1212 Beagle Lane in the Fox Chase Development. A portion of the development was annexed by the City in 2006; however, the subject property was not a part of that annexation. Three other properties on Beagle Lane have been granted sewer connections by means of future annexation agreements. In previous analyses, Staff determined the properties along Beagle Lane were not economically feasible for the City to annex at the present time, and that determination still holds true. Staff recommends approval of future annexation agreement.
H. Airport Concession Agreement with VisionAire Jets, LLC for Office Space Located in the Airport Commercial Terminal Building - VisionAire Jets, LLC desires to relocate their aircraft development business, currently located in Newton, NC, to the Hickory Regional Airport commercial terminal building (old airport administrative offices that have recently become vacant). The 776-square foot space is to be leased to VisionAire Jets, LLC for a three-year period. The Lessee will pay the City $250.00 per month for the first three months, and the rent will increase to $500.00 per month for the next three months. Thereafter, the monthly rent will be at the full rate of $1.00 per square foot, or $776.00 per month, until said lease expires. This is a startup partnership between the City and VisionAire Jets to provide a viable, long-lasting relationship, and the Airport Staff feels that VisionAire Jets will be a good addition to the
Hickory Regional Airport with ties to the aviation world. This lease is in line with the recommendations of the Airport Task Force in promoting the airport’s goals to promote assets and increase revenues.
I. 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 April 5, 2012:
• Kenneth Knight, 1149 15th Street SW, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan in the amount of $8,000.00. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval to increase his loan by $1,500.00 for the costs of the repairs.
J. Change Order No. 8 to Contract with Pizzagalli Construction Company in the Amount of $69,121.00 for the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant (NEWWTP) Upgrade Project - The NEWWTP Upgrade Project was initiated in July, 2010 at a cost of $21,569,382.50 for a complete upgrade of the facility. The current contract amount for this project is $22,123,422.50 which includes previously approved Change Orders Nos. 1 – 7. This project was established with a contingency fund in order to address unforeseen expenses that may arise, and Change Order No. 8 consists of 8 items related to unanticipated conditions and/or design omissions during the plan modifications prior to the start of the project. The single largest item that is included in this change order is $64,617.00 for construction of a hot box enclosure at the influent bar screen pump station. The second largest item was for $19,500.00 to add freeze protection at the grit system, odor control, exposed plant water lines caustic tank and lines that were eliminated from the design modification. This change order also includes 3 items that are credits back to the project
for work that was modified or eliminated. Contract change order total, including Change Order Nos. 1 – 8, is $623,161.00, or 2.89% of the original project contract. The revised contract total to date will be $22,192,543.50. Staff recommends approval.
K. Budget Ordinance Amendments
1. To budget $365 of Library donations from several donors in the Library Books line item.
2. To budget $3,400 of Unity Fair donations in the Unity Fair expenditure line item. The Unity Fair is part of the International Spring Fest.
3. To budget a $1,500 International Council donation in the International Council expenditure line item got the 2012 International Spring Fest.
4. To appropriate $4,378 of the Insurance Fund Balance and transfer to the General Fund Legal Services line item. This appropriation is to pay for legal expenses related to the Glenn Edward Chapman pending litigation.
A. Report of Mayor Rudy Wright’s travel to Greensboro, NC to attend the NC Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (Mileage - $104.50).
B. Report of City Manager Mick Berry’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90, per diem - $71.87; parking - $58.40)
C. Report of Mayor Rudy Wright’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
D. Report of Alderman Bruce Meisner’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
E. Report of Alderman Danny Seaver’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
F. Report of Alderman Hank Guess’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
G. Report of Alderwoman Sally Fox’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room - $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
H. Report of Alderwoman Jill Patton’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (room $175.90; per diem - $71.87)
I. Report of City Attorney John Crone’s travel to attend the Special Council Meeting in Greenville, SC on February 23 – 24, 2012 (per diem - $23.81; parking - $4.00)
New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Report on Catawba County Gang Initiative The Catawba County Gang Initiative is a collaboration of nine Catawba County Law Enforcement Agencies to create an environment that helps reduce gang/group related violence and crime in our communities. Seasoned offenders identified with a history of gang/group related violence and crime are notified of the community’s intent to stop illegal activity through an offender notification meeting, also known as a “Call-In”. Service providers, faith-based leaders and law enforcement from local, state and federal agencies give a concise message to offenders that the violence and crime will not be tolerated. Family and community leaders inform offenders about the willingness of the assembled resources to assist those willing to commit to positive community behavior, while also clearly stating that refusal to take heed to this official warning will result in suppression consequences to the full extent of the law. This strategy seeks to offer options to change their behavior while holding them accountable for their actions. The funding to launch this comprehensive strategy was provided by the
NC Governor’s Crime Commission in 2009.
This is a collaboration of nine law enforcement agencies in Catawba County... Hickory, Brookford, Catawba, Claremont, Conover, Maiden, and Newton Police Departments and the Catawba County Sheriff's Department. A two-year grant from the Governor's Crime Commission funded a crime analyst/community resource coordinator, software and over time for law enforcement staff. Activity started in 2010.
The initiative's primary focus is to identify potential gang/group members and criminal offenses that may be gang or group related. The crime analyst/community resource coordinator, who is Charles Mackie, gathers extensive intelligence through Street Cops, Probation Officers, etc. on both networks of individuals involved in the group/gang community and individual patterns of criminal behavior to identify the worst offenders with a potential towards violence. The crime analyst/community resource coordinator also identifies a community resource base of service providers, faith-based and community leaders willing to offer assistance in changing behavior. Once identified, these individuals are notified of the community's intent to stop the violence and are summoned to a notification meeting Known as a "Call-in."
The Chief stated that it was initially hard for him to wrap his arms around this effort, but this effort has worked in High Point, NC. The ultimate goal is to reduce the violence in our communities. During the Call-in, Law Enforcement gives a stern message to the offenders that these offenses are going to stop or they will be fast tracked and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (Federal or State). He stated that it may not stop all crime, but the focus is on Homicides, Robberies, and Home Invasions. This includes voluntary compliance; the individuals except resources offered by service providers and become productive citizens in the community. This also may include these individuals are being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when necessary through the federal or state criminal justice systems in the individuals being fast tracked through the process.
Law enforcement members who participated in the meeting included Michael White of the FBI, Dana Washington of the US Atty.'s office, the DA, the 25th District Attorney's Office, and nine local law enforcement agencies.
Resource provider stated "we except you but not your behavior. We are not going to tolerate the violence any longer. We're here to offer you help." Help us for them but also the members of their group. It was stated that the participants should not make promises that they can't keep. The service providers included CVCC, the employment security commission, the Hickory library, manpower, job link, chick-fil-a, and more.
Community voices stated that the community wants the violence to stop. The ideas of the street code or false. You are valuable and important to us. Please accept the help being offered. Spokespeople included the Rev. Anthony Spearman of the Clinton tabernacle AME Zion church, Chris Johnson of young people of integrity, and Addie Shuford, who is a grandmother of a victim of murder.
The issue of essentials of success, as in employability skills was addressed. Participating service providers offered individualized assistance from participating agencies. The targeted participants must attend 10 different full sessions of lectures and labs on anger management, real-life success, right attitude and thinking, resume/letter or explanation, discuss for success, interviewing skills, power of volunteering, and work plan it placed success. The targeted participants will receive a certificate of completion. Ten other communities in North Carolina have taken this approach and only two of those have taken the county wide approach.
The Hound believe that this is a good and well thought out program. Kudos to these law enforcement officials for taking a stand with a way out and no excuses for offenders.
2. Quarterly Financial Report - Presentation by Assistant City manager Warren Wood -
The General fund summary with 75% of your complete shows that we have received 84.07% of our budgeted revenues, compared to the five year average of 81.17%. We have spent/encumbered 71.3% of our targeted expenditure can pared to the five-year average of 70.38%. Revenues over expenditures equaled $7,087,569 compared to the five-year average of $6,474,595. Water and sewer fund, with 75% of your complete shows that we have received 69.88% of our budgeted revenues compared to the five-year average of 68.26%. We have spent/encumbered 67.95% of our budgeted expenditures compared to the five-year average of 61.52%. Revenues over expenditures equaled $917,391 compared to the five-year average of $1,875,738. He says that when monies taken out for spending on infrastructure is accounted for, then the city is right where it should be.
Warren stated that the positives so far with this year's budget are that revenues have stabilized and become more predictable. By taking proactive steps to prepare for the fiscal year 2013-14, we know there will be revenues losses, but we have prepared for that through budgetary reductions. The city is this in a solid fund balance position. Three months of expenses set aside in cash. Increases in fuel related expenses have been accounted for. The capital improvement plan has been funded. Funds set aside for fuel cost increases. The general fund will be debt-free in seven years. No property tax rate increase in 17 years and it looks to be 18 years. The bond rating of the City of Hickory was reaffirmed in 2011 by S&P at AA. The city is very competitive and water and sewer rates.
The challenges ahead include the fiscal year 2013-14 budget. Stable but stagnant revenues. The state of North Carolina undertaking tax reform. New or expanded services, must have new revenues. Expenditure pressures: fuel. and street resurfacing. Economic development and redevelopment. The State is looking into regearing privilege license fees. The Mayor stated that he believes it will be revenue neutral. Alderman Meisner stated that it was a very political tax.
Citizens Requesting to be Heard
Frank Fisher addressed and asked questions about the Farmer's Market. He asked about the costs of the structure being built downtown and that he believes that the costs have exceeded what has been stated. He would like to see a line-by-line budget of the expenditures made public.
Walter Witherspoon apologized for a misstatement that he made during the previous address about the group involved with the structure being built on Union Square. He vstated that he still stands for the things he said. He met with Manager Berry on April 16 to talk about the questions he had asked at the previous Council Meeting. Manager Berry did confirm that City Workers were being used for the construction of the site. Mr. Zagaroli is the architectural designer of the site. Mr. Zagaroli was paid a fee to design the site. The City is involved in the construction of the site and he didn't know that from the beginning. He dug a little deeper (then he quoted minutes from a previous meeting) to make sure of accuracy. He then pointed to the fact that during the City Council meeting of December 20, 2011 that it was remarked upon that the Farmer's Market Board approached the City Council members and they next engaged Mr. Zagaroli. Mr. Zagaroli worked with members of the Hickory Farmer's Market Board and the Downtown Development Association. Mr. Witherspoon misinterpreted that the city was giving Mr. Zagaroli $285,000 and he was going to be responsible for the construction. He didn't realize that this was going to be done in-house and this is what caused the confusion... and this is the reason why there was no bid... It is hard for City Council members and farmer's market members and Downtown Development Association members and he does understand that some of you guys (city council) sit on some of those boards and then you have to come back and change hats and vote on that and he admires their objectivity and he has questions about that. You have a job and I'm still not clear about that kind of involvement there and on the Board of the city. Alderman Meisner asked Mr. Witherspoon about saying that Mr. Zagaroli was the architectural head of that and stated then stated that Mr. Zagaroli is not an architect. Mr. Witherspoon stated that he was the architectural designer and that is why he brought his quotes, because he waanted to get it correct and didn't want people in the audience to get the wrong impression.
Larry Pope said his question is he would like to ask about the contest naming the facility and he would like to know about the committee who would be choosing from the applications to name the facility. He would like to know their names, addresses, and diversity of those individuals; because he believes in diversity. He wants to know if those individuals have a connection to City Council and what their connection is to City Council. Whenever you respond to me in writing on those questions, every voter and household needs to know that information. Citizens need to know by whom and how those selections are being made, because what his experience is is that 9 times out of 10 City Council members are appointing family members, friends, and neighbors who are a rubber stamp for what they want nto sit on various boards, commissions, and committees and he hopes that will be different this time, because he believes that whatever committee is established should be as diverse as possible and should be citizens who do not normally serve in those positions. The Mayor instructed Asst City manager Wood to provide that information and asked him to use judgment, about whether it would be proper to include addresses in the information.
The Hound wonders why the Mayor asks about judgment in relation to providing addresses of the people who serve on this commission, but when someone requests to be heard during these segments he asks that they state their name and address for the record. Is that consistent? If you are stating your name and address for one public purpose, then why would you not do it for another?
Request to Speak by Carol McConnell and others, Lakeside Condominiums, 2200 6th Street NW, regarding dredging of Horseford Creek Cove - Keith Rossi, 2200 6th Street, NW, was present to represent Lakeside Condos, and presented photos of the cove to the individual Council Members. There has been an issue for years with the cove gradually losing depth. The City dredged the cove once before about 15 years ago, and got it to a depth of about 15 feet. As of 2 to 3 years ago, it was down to 2 to 3 feet of water again. Obviously, it creates problems for boaters, fishermen, and wildlife areas drying out -- becoming a pollution problem. It is a daily occurrence for boats to get stuck in the cove. Property owners took it upon themselves to have the channel dredged and spent over $50,000 this year when they got nowhere with the City Engineer saying that it is a natural occurrence and there is nothing the City can do. He stated they felt that a precedent has been set since it has been dredged once before. There are several issues at the park where runoff is not being addressed as well as some of the pollution issues that come into the cove. He asked for guidance as to whom the property owners can speak with to help address the issues and what they might be able to do to work together with Duke Power, the City, Riverkeepers, environmentalists, etc. to help keep the cove and the lake healthy. Duke Power owns the lake, and they say there is nothing that they can do. The solution is for property owners to spend money out of their own pockets to maintain the lakefront property.
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