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Friday, November 9, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 6, 2012

 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 11/6/2012 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.

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:  City Council Agenda - November 6, 2012

Invocation by Rev. Mark Andrews, Pastor St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

Alderman Seaver acted as Mayor Pro Tem due to Mayor Wright's absence.

Special Presentations
A. (2:45) Presentation of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Proclamation to Austin Pierce, Executive Director for the Hickory Soup Kitchen and Teena Willis, Housing Coordinator for Partners Behavioral Health Management and Chair of the Housing Visions Continuum of Care.

B. (8:10) Recognition of Master Police Officer Danny Crump for completing his year as President of the NC Law Enforcement Officers Association. Presentation by Police Chief Adkinson.

C. (11:00) Recognition of Investigator David Rockett who was recognized by the National Insurance Crime Bureau at their annual meeting for his work on a theft ring. Presentation by Police Chief Adkinson.

D. (15:50) Presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012.

Unqualified Opinion on financial statements and compliance
Cooperative Staff - very successful transition year
General Fund - fund balance increased $3,654,835 after transfers and long term debt issued

The General Fund Summary shows that Expenses increased by $368,055 during the fiscal year (to $39,822,538 in 2012 from $39,454,483 in 2011).

The Fund Balance has increased to $31,882,614 for 2011-12 from $28,227,779 in 2010-11 and $25,165,923 in 2009-10.

Ad Valorem Tax Revenues actually decreased by $355,939 during the fiscal year (to $23,228,814 in 2012 from $23,584,753 in 2011).

Other Tax Revenues actually increased by $262,173 during the fiscal year (to $12,656,894 in 2012 from $12,394,721 in 2011).

Sales and Service Revenues increased by $39,708 during the fiscal year (to  $1,670,625 in 2012 from $1,630,917 in 2011).

Transportation Expenses increased by $95,572 during the fiscal year (to  $4,839,106 in 2012 from $4,743,534 in 2011).

 Cultural and Recreational Expenses increased by $406,541 during the fiscal year (to  $5,657,529 in 2012 from $5,250,988 in 2011).

Assistant City Manager Warren Wood's statements about last year's financial numbers. General Fund's unassigned balance increased by $288,000. This brings the Fund balance to $11.9 million, which is 27% of the total operating budget. The Water & Sewer fund decreased slightly by $16,000. The city can go 268 days without any additional revenues, which is an 11 day increase over the last year. The city's assets increased by $2 million. The City's collection rate fell 96.5% to 95.9%. This has been a consistent negative trend. The City has 10 years to collect this money.

 Consent Agenda - (25:20)

A. Approval of Community Relations Council Grant Recommendations for Fall 2012 Agency Project Title Amount Requested Amount Recommended by CRC
Organization - Amount Requested - Amount Budgeted 
Java Journey Recovery Project $1,500 - $0
Council on Adolescence Reproductive Health and Safety Education $1,365 - $1,000
CVCC Multicultural Series Multicultural Program - $1,500 - $1,000
Hickory Community Theatre Bridgeview Project 2013 - $2,500 - $1,000
Women’s Resource Center Women’s Life Transition Services $1,500 - $1,500
Young People of Integrity Making Hickory Home - $2,000 - $1,000
Total Requested by all agencies - $10,365
Total Recommended for funding by CRC - $5,500

B. Call for Public Hearing of required updates to the City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance - (Authorize Public Hearing for November 20, 2012) - The City of Hickory is required to operate under a NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources (NCDENR) approved Sewer Use Ordinance due to the size of the Wastewater Treatment Facilities and the presence of Industrial customers on the City of Hickory wastewater system. The adoption of an approved Sewer Use Ordinance is a requirement of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and subsequent revisions. The proposed revisions to the existing City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance are to address recent environmental regulation changes. This version of the City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance is intended to ensure that the City of Hickory Pretreatment Program operates in compliance with the appropriate State and Federal regulations, A NCAC 2H.0900 and 40 CFR 403 respectively.

C. Approval of “Food for Fines” Amnesty Week at the Library, December 3 – 8, 2012 - Approval of the waiver of overdue fines for library customers who donate canned food items at either Patrick Beaver Memorial Library or Ridgeview Branch Library during the week of December 3-8, 2012. One can or box of food will cancel $1.00 in overdue fines, and donated items will be given to Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry.

*** Removed from the Consent Agenda discussed and voted upon to extend the dates from December 3 through December 8 to December 3 to December 15.

D. Offer to Purchase Property from Lenoir Rhyne University to City of Hickory to purchase approximately .06 +/- acre located at 10 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard NE, PIN 3713-17-01-3455) in the amount of $2,000. - Lenoir Rhyne University (LRU) has presented an offer to purchase approximately .06 +/- acre owned by the City and located at 10 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard NE. The tract is too small to build upon by the City and it would complete the parcel grouping for LRU if allowed to purchase it. Staff recommends acceptance of the offer to purchase from LRU and authorization to advertise for upset bids. Once the property is advertised, other parties will have ten (10) days to submit upset bids.

E. Special Meeting of Hickory City Council, Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Hickory Regional Airport. - A special meeting of Hickory City Council to be held on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hickory Regional Airport Terminal Building Community Room at 3101 9th Ave Drive NW. The purpose of this special meeting is to update City Council on Airport activities in 2012.

F. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 6
1. To budget a $250 donation in the Parks and Recreation-Recreational Supplies line item. This donation is for the first annual "Bark Bash" event held at Stanford Park.
2. To budget a $5,000 insurance claim check from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Parks and Recreation Maintenance and Repair of Buildings line item. This insurance claim check is payment less deductible for damage to the Air Conditioning unit on Neil Clark Recreation Center.
3. To budget $762 of General Fund Miscellaneous Revenue in the Fire Department Departmental Supply line item. These funds were received from Mountain Recycling, Inc. for the sale of scrap metal from the shop.
4. To appropriate $206 for the month of September 2012 of Local Government Revenue and budget in the Police Department Overtime line item. This revenue is payment from Catawba County Mental Health for a portion of an Officers time spent when accompanying involuntary commitment patients.
5. To appropriate $54,910 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the State of North Carolina Un-Authorized Substance Tax revenue) and budget in the Police Department's Capital Vehicles line item ($50,850) and Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item ($4,060). This amendment is necessary to purchase 10 new in-car cameras to replace obsolete existing in-car cameras. Parts cannot be found and the software is no longer supported. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
6. To appropriate $75,000 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the US Department of Treasury) and budget in the Police Department's Capital Improvements line item. This amendment is necessary to pay for the first phase of the renovation on the home located at 222 3rd Street SW, (Contiguous to HPD Headquarters property) which was purchased by the City in 2011. The first phase includes grading, concrete, tree removal, siding of the home, removal of the awning, dormer addition, porch columns replacement, interior cosmetic work, electrical additions, roof replacement, phone and other low voltage wiring, lighting, exit exterior stair replacement, landscaping and fence. Renovations will allow more office space for the Police Department and could have an occupancy of 10-15 personnel. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the US Department of Treasury and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
7. To budget a $308 transfer of unused revenue from the Vision 100 Block Grant Project to the General Fund-Appropriated Fund Balance. This amendment is necessary to close the capital project and return $308 of unspent monies to the General Fund.
8. To budget a $200,000 check from the State of North Carolina Department of Commerce (One North Carolina Fund) in the Economic and Community Development Incentives line item. This check is the second and final payment to CheckFree Services Corporation (Fiserv). A grant was approved by the Department of Commerce One North Carolina Fund in the amount of $800,000. CheckFree Services Corporation has previously met requirements to receive payments in the amount of $600,000. This payment represents the final grant disbursement.
G. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 2
1. To budget $301 of Retained Earnings in the Vision 100 Block Grant Project and to transfer a total of $308 ($301 Retained Earnings and $7 in Miscellaneous Capital) to the General Fund. This transfer is necessary to close the Vision Block Grant Project and return the remaining $308 of unexpended funds to the original funding source.
H. Grant Project Ordinance No. 4
1. To budget $400,000 for two ($200,000) Community-wide Brownfield Assessment Grants through the United States Environmental Protection Agency. These grants can be used to assess environmental contamination at identified Brownfield sites which are defined as vacant or under-utilized commercial and industrial properties whose redevelopment is hindered by either real or perceived environmental contamination. The funds will be used to perform Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments along with cleanup, redevelopment planning at selected sites and may be used for public outreach and community involvement. The grants will last from October 2012 through September 2015.

Informational Items
A. Report of Mayor Rudy Wright travel to North Carolina League of Municipalities, Charlotte, NC on October 22, 2012 (registration - $330.00, gas and parking - $80.38)

B. Report of City Manager Mick Berry travel to ICMA Annual Conference, Phoenix, Arizona on October 7 -10, 2012 (room - $727.20, per diem - $247.50, airfare - $302.00, parking and cabs - $125.50, registration fee - $620.00)

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Quarterly Financial Report (30:30) - Warren Wood Presentation. Part of Warren's presentation is laid out above in relation to the 2011-12 Financial Statements.
Approval of a Resolution to the North Carolina General Assembly in support of the extension of Transitional Hold Harmless Revenues from the State of North Carolina to negatively affected local governments.

*** Property tax collections are $500,000 less than they should be. Bills went out late from the county and that may have caused this issue. The City is down $2.2 million versus the 5 year average of just over $1 million. some of this is thrown off by the missing $500,000, but the revenues are definitely off.

Loss of $84 million in tax base 1.8%, which translates to $421,000 in lost revenue.

Consistent losses in building permits.

A resolution was passed Unanimously by the City Council to ask the State legislature to extended this "Hold Harmless" transitional money. Cities with the largest Industrial bases were hit hardest. This is the 10th year and Hickory stands to lose $300,000 of budgeted revenues. Warren stated that we can not afford to lose this money. They tried to do this last year and it was unsuccessful. Hickory has joined other Municipalities in lobbying to extend these payments.

Matters not on the Agenda
*** Manager Berry asked the City Council to approve 8 days (3 - 1 day and 1 - 5 day) of vacation time to be raffled off at the City's Annual Employee Appreciation day. This was unanimously approved by City Council.

*** Alderman Lail spoke about a situation related to demolitions and surrounding properties. He talked about the dynamics with the county waving tipping fees and the city encouraging demolitions. He said it might be something as simple as wetting down the site. Manager Berry stated that he would direct staff to look into the matter. These demolitions cited were private demolitions and there are no ordinances related to this. If the city demolishes structures he stated that the city (administratively has decided that they will take care of this. The City is currently researching the issue. Council unanimously voted to direct the staff to look into this issue.

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