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Friday, January 18, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of January 15, 2013

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 1/15/2012 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 Action Agenda - January 15, 2013

Invocation by Rev. Bob Thompson, Pastor, Corinth Reformed Church

Special Presentations
A. (3:40) Business Well Crafted Presentation Award - Business Development Committee Member David  Gissy presented the “Business Well Crafted Award to Jay Reardon with Hickory Chair Furniture  Company.

Mr. Gissy stated that Hickory is known for quality and craftsmanship. This award is given to companies that have been in existence in our area for 75 or more years. Hickory Chair was founded in 1911. They now employee 576 employees. Mr. Reardon thanked the city and the county for coming together and supporting Hickory Chair when they nearly had to close and now he says thay are exporting their product around the world.

(11:05) - The Mayor made a motion to allow Citizens to address items on the agenda.

Consent Agenda: (12:15)
A. Request from Hickory Police Department to Award Police Badge and Service Weapon to Retiring MPO J.B. Wike. -  By authority of NC General Statute §20-187.2, City Council may award the service weapon and police badge to retiring MPO J.B. Wike upon his retirement from Hickory Police Department on December 31, 2012 after completing almost 30 years of service with Hickory Police Department. Upon approval from City Council, the police badge and service weapon will be declared surplus and removed from the city’s fixed asset inventory.

B. Approval to File a Grant Application with Clean Water Management Trust Fund for $127,500 in Grant Funds to Purchase a Riparian Buffer on Horseford Creek. - The Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) provides funds to local governments to assist in acquiring land to be set aside as riparian buffers. CWMTF funds may be used to purchase property on the first 300 feet of land from the top of the stream bank or the width of the 100 year floodplain, whichever is greater. CWMTF grant applications are due February 1, 2013, applicants will not receive notification of funding status until October 1, 2013. Staff request approval of the authorization to file a grant application with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for $127,500 to purchase a riparian buffer on Horseford Creek contiguous to Glenn Hilton Park.

C. Approval of Recombination Deeds for City Property on South Center Street and Main Avenue Way SE.  - The first recombination deed is for three city-owned parcels on South Center Street that
are located just south of 4th Avenue SW. These properties are currently being developed as a parking lot for the former Ridgeview Public Library. The second recombination deed is for city-owned parcels on Main Avenue Way SE that are located just south of the railroad tracks between Highway 127 and 3rd Street SE. The total area of the three parcels is slightly more than one acre. No development is currently proposed for the Main Avenue Way properties at this time; however, combining these properties into one parcel will expedite the development process at this location when it occurs.

D. Approval of a Contract with The Library Corporation (TLC) in the amount of $45,680 for the first year and $27,780 per year for the remaining four years for Installation and Ongoing Management of the Library’s Integrated Library System.  -  Library request approval of a contract with The Library Corporation (TLC) to install and manage Hickory Public Library’s integrated library system that includes circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, statistics management, and other essential library functions. The contract cost for the first year will be $45,680 and for the remaining four years a cost of $27,780 per year.

E. Request approval of the Hickory Downtown Preservation Association’s Historic Preservation Fund Pass-Through Grant Application in the amount of $14,092 for the Hickory Community Theatre renovations. -  As a Certified Local Government, the City of Hickory and nonprofits within the city are eligible to apply for grants from the State of North Carolina to undertake a variety of different projects to advance historic preservation throughout the state. The Hickory Downtown Preservation Association has prepared an application on behalf of the Hickory Community Theatre for some of the external improvements that will occur as part of their upcoming renovation project. The grant funds will be used for replacement of the doors at the main entrance of the theatre and for re-pointing of the bricks on the building exterior. The estimated project cost is $23,486; the grant request is for $14,092 with the additional $9,394 in local match funds coming from contributions received by the Hickory
Community Theatre. No additional funding from the City of Hickory is required for the grant project.
- Removed from the Consent Agenda with further information given. Manager Berry requested that the money amounts be changed; project cost $48,663 - $15,000 is now the grant request and matching funds will cover the additional $33,663.

F. Approval of the Application for Funding for the 2013 Urgent Repair Program (URP13) for submission to the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.  - The City of Hickory Community Development Department in complying with the N.C. Housing Finance Agency’s guidelines has prepared an application for funding for the 2013 Urgent Repair Program. The application incorporates program requirements, applicant eligibility standards and program capabilities. The application is in the amount of $37,500 through this program in order to assist a minimum of eight eligible homes with
urgently needed repairs in an amount not to exceed $5,400 per housing unit. The City of Hickory will provide $3,750 in matching funds, available from Rental Rehabilitation program income.

G. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following requests were considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on January 3, 2013:
Jeffrey Beard was approved for recommendation to City Council for first-time homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 470 20th Avenue NE, Hickory. He had requested $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.
Ashley Byrd was approved for recommendation to City Council for first-time homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 836 5th Avenue SW, Hickory. She had requested $10,000 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.
Rebecca Dickinson was approved for recommendation to City Council for first time homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 2705 North Center Street Unit #74, Hickory. She had requested $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.
Approved support for construction of sidewalk and streetscape improvements along 14th Avenue Place NW adjacent to proposed Viewmont Square Court Apartments. The WODA development group is looking to construct a 50 unit senior apartment complex. CDBG funds may be used to support site improvements if they are in public ownership. The applicant is requesting CDBG funding for construction of sidewalk and landscaping within the right of way. The project will cost approximately $6,000. The applicant is applying to the NC Housing Finance Agency for tax credits to support the project. Funds will be budgeted in a future year, but city approval is requested at this time
in order to include the city support in the application to the NC Housing Finance Agency. Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2011 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

H. Approval of a Special Warranty Deed for Northwest Sewer Pump Station Property. - On April 20, 1999 and May 4, 1999, City Council approved on first and second readings staff’s request to purchase a tract of property located at 39th Avenue, NW from Allen W. Huffman and wife, Evelyn Huffman. The request also included an easement which runs across the western portion of the property. Council approved the purchase price of $50,000. The property was purchased to build the sewer pump station for the Northwest area. The City paid the Huffman’s the $50,000 and the pump station was  subsequently built on the property. In 2012, Allen W. Huffman, Jr. and wife, Margaret Barry Huffman and Janice Huffman Bradford and husband E. Edwin Bradford, heirs of Allen W. and Evelyn Huffman and the current owners of an adjacent tract, put that tract on the market. During negotiations with a potential buyer, the Huffman’s and Bradford’s learned they had still been paying taxes on the tract the City purchased in 1999. In turn, the discovery of the tax payments led to the discovery that a deed conveying the pump station tract to the City was not recorded at the time of the closing on the property.

I. Approval of an Agreement for Consulting Services with McGill Associates in the amount of $22,900 for Water Treatment Facility Settled Sedimentation Disposal Alternatives Analysis. - 
The City of Hickory Water Treatment Facility recently received an annual inspection from NCDENR Public Water Supply Section. During this inspection staff from NCDENRPWSS noted a deficiency with operations of the facility in the area of settled sedimentation disposal. The subsequent inspection report requires the City of Hickory Water Treatment Facility to have a third party professional engineer evaluate and make recommendations for the on-going practice of settled sedimentation disposal that is integral to the successful treatment of potable water for the City of Hickory. McGill Associates was selected as the most qualified engineering professionals to complete this project for the City due to their knowledge of water treatment practices and equipment and they have a very productive relationship with NCDENR.  A J. Approve the Proposed Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Submittal for FY 2014-2018 to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). - This submittal is the official formal request from the City of Hickory to the NCDOT of
specific future capital project improvements that are needed for the Hickory Regional Airport. The NCDOT will review this submittal against a funding priority system that all other public airports in North Carolina are obligated to follow to determine funding eligibility. The NCDOT will determine which of the projects listed in the TIP Submittal are eligible for funding. These allocations are based upon 90 percent Federal/State funds and 10 percent local share for all eligible, approved project costs for airport improvements. This Submittal is in correlation with recommendations from the Airport Task Force.

K. Approval of a Transfer of a Cemetery Deed from the City of Hickory to Henry Bryan Whitener in Fairview Cemetery

L. Approval of the Resolution to Support the 2013-2015 Funding for Clean Water Management Trust Fund. - Clean Water Management Trust Fund has provided grants to the City of Hickory to purchase property along Horseford Creek to establish buffers and, improve and expand the Greenway Trail System; and also funds for the Cripple Creek Sanitary Sewer Outfall Replacement Project. The grants provided to the City of Hickory total $1,139,860.47.

M. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 11.
1. To budget a $100 donation from George Ivey in the Landscape Services Departmental Supplies line item. This donation is to support the George Ivey Arboretum and used for plantings, signage, maintenance or any other needed improvements.
2. To budget a $29,921 insurance claim check from Nationwide Insurance Company in the Traffic division Maintenance and Repair of Signals and Departmental Supplies line item. This insurance claim is for damages to traffic signals and fiber optic lines resulting from a traffic accident on 10/27/12 at Hwy. 127 and 23rd Ave. NE Hickory.
3. To appropriate $48,291 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the US Department of Justice) and budget in the Police Department's Departmental  Supplies line item. This amendment is necessary to purchase weapons and holsters for the Hickory Police Department. Officers have carried  9mm Beretta firearms since 1989 and although there is a replacement schedule for these
weapons, over the years the Berettas have become more expensive than other handguns. After testing, the Police Department decided that the 9mm Glock would be the best on-duty weapon for Officers. Glocks are estimated to be approximately $155 less per weapon than the Beretta, they are easier to repair if a problem should arise and the magazines are interchangeable unlike the Berettas. Therefore HPD will purchase 145 weapons, holsters and accessories with funds made available to the Police Department from the US Department of Justice which remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
4. To transfer $22,900 of Water and Sewer Contingency to the Water Treatment Plant Other Professional Services line item. This transfer is necessary to pay for Consulting Services with McGill  Associates for a Water Treatment Facility Settled Sedimentation Disposal Alternative Analysis. This Engineering firm will evaluate and make recommendations for the on-going practice of settled sedimentation disposal to ensure that the plants process is compliant under the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (NCDENR).
5. To transfer $957,795 from Water and Sewer Fund Capital Reserve to the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade and Expansion Project. In addition to the $9,900,000 financed for the project, $1,915,590 is needed to fund the project of which the City of Hickory and Catawba County will share. This transfer of funds represents Hickory's 50% share of the remaining
funds required.

O. Special Event/Activities Application for Downtown Hickory Farmers Market, Donna B. Cullum, Market Manager, from April 3, 2013 to November 30, 2013 at The Sails on the Square.

New Business - Public Hearing
1. (15:05) Regarding Amendments to Articles, 2, 6, 7, 9, and 10 of the City’s Land Development Code. - Annually the Planning and Development Services Department conducts a review of the City’s Land Development Code to determine if amendments are needed. During the current review staff has identified a number of recommended amendments to Articles 2, 6, 7, 9, and 10 of the City’s Land Development Code pertaining to Certificates of Appropriateness, use regulations for group living facilities, building setbacks, and solid waste enclosures and signs. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission and Staff recommend the changes.

***Mayor Wright Recused himself, because of potential financial conflicts. Part of the subject matter dealt with signage and as many of you know he is the owner of a sign company. (The Hound) - The Mayor should be commended for recusing himself here.

Brian Frazier made the presentation. This is the second annual revision and update. There are no updates to Hickory By Choice, but they are changing minor text amendments. He speaks of Certificates of Appropriateness. He states this is a housekeeping item. Use Regulations changes deal with residents in Group Living Facility; this is being eliminated. Reducing setbacks in Historical areas. Solid Waste Storage screening (Dumpster Enclosures) materials will be expanded to help with cost savings.

Permissible wall signs in non-residential areas will now be allowed to be 2 sq ft per foot of linear foot of wall area, instead of 1 sq ft previously, up to 300 sq ft. Mr. Frazier states that these signs are created by professionals and they should be allowed the latitude to create their signs.

Alderman Meisner asked a question about trucks (or tractor trailers) being used as signs. This is allowed if the truck is used by the business, but it is not permissible if truck isn't mobile. It must be motoring and tagged. Alderman Lail asked about Height of signs -- this needs to be increased.

New Business - Departmental Reports
1. (36:40) Contracts for the Construction of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade and Expansion - (Kevin Greer Presentation).

a. Approval of the Contract with Jimmy R. Lynch & Sons, Inc. in the amount of $10,219,657. Council approved with Unanimous Consent.

b. Approval of an Engineering Construction Services Contract with Davis & Floyd, Inc. in the amount of $520,651. Council approved with Unanimous Consent.

c. Approve the Acceptance and Award the Bank Bid from PNC Bank in the amount of $9.9 Million Dollars for the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility Upgrade and Expansion Installment Purchase Financing. - The City of Hickory received bids from BB&T and PNC Bank on 12/31/12. The rates reported were 2.49% by BB&T and 2.27% by PNC Bank, both based on the installment purchase method of financing $9.9 million for a 15 year term. Funds from the financing will be deposited into a money rate savings account and withdrawn by the City of Hickory as needed  for invoice processing. In addition to the lower interest rate from PNC Bank, their current governmental money rate savings account rate is 0.20 percent compared to 0.10 percent with BB&T. Council approved with Unanimous Consent.

This was discussed at the City Council meeting of January 2, 2013

2. (47:45) Sub-Committee of Hickory City Council Recommendations to “Decide the language for getting citizens input at the beginning of the meeting.”

The Mayor states that he was pushing to have a vote taken on this night. He adds that he is not comfortable voting on the issue until he has had a chance to reflect upon the approved minutes (what happened during the sub-committee meeting). You can watch it here -- Hickory Subcommittee on Citizen Input Meeting - January 14, 2013.

Alerman Lail asked if they had a recommendation from the sub-committee. The Mayor gets contentious about that, "There is going to be a recommendation from the subcommittee, so I guess we'll let that recommendation come." The Mayor makes a pointy about being the presiding officer. Attorney Crone gets into the rules. Apparently he presides over the meeting under Robert's rules of Order, but that doesn't make him the Chairman of the meeting.

Attorney Crone gets into the need to clean up documents that have been created over time, such as contacting the City Manager to be placed on the Agenda to speak... the 3 minute time limit, etc. A motion needs to direct the City Attorney and the City Staff Attorney draft an ordinance containing what they want to see there and clean up other (related) policies and ordinances.

Alder Fox read the recommended new ordinance and Alder Patton's Amendment. Under this ordinance all public comment would move to Item 4 on the Agenda, except under Alder Patton's Amendment they Citizen's will be allowed to address the Council about an item from the night's agenda. The Mayor gets into this issue about any Council Member being able to make a motion that someone is out of order. The Mayor can call someone out of order without a motion. Alderman Lail gets into the idea that through policy people should be allowed to provide information at the discretion of the Council.

Alderman Lail made a motion to instruct staff to put Alder Fox's recommendation in the form of an ordinance and study the 3:00 time rule as a matter of policy. The mayor then begins a long rant about the 3:00 time policy... speaking about a hard 3 minutes and a soft 3 minutes and challenging Attorney Crone and Alder Fox. Insinuating that this was all done behind his back. This becomes a heated discussion mostly on the Mayor's part. Mrs. Patton speaks about the time limit policy not being enforced.

Citizens Requesting to be Heard

Cliff Moone (1:37:20) - Cliff addresses issues of Points of Order and Robert's Rules of Order. Cliff thanked the Council for the work they had just done. He said that we had just seen Democracy in Action. He speaks to issues of decorum. He speaks about the Mayor being the Chair of Council.

James Thomas Shell (1:42:00) - I speak to the fact that we create these subcommittees and never follow through on their recommendations. We need to keep amateur politics from affecting local governmental processes. I speak to the fact that I have seen many moments where citizens have addressed council that I would not consider friendly. The Mayor wants the Citizen Input at the beginning of the meeting to be a motion process and not be placed permanently on the Agenda.

The Hound: Many may not understand exactly where I was coming from when I addressed the Council. On Monday, I addressed the subcommittee and asked that they increase the initial speaking time to 5 minutes and that Citizens address Matters not on the Agenda at the end of the meeting and everything else be moved forward, a position the Hound has advocated for the last two-plus years. I constantly see everyone butting up against the 3 minutes. In fact I do it here, addressing the Council,  even though I am only making 3 points and I'm not wasting time, but I'm not going to pitch a fit if they don't follow these recommendations to the T.

The timing isn't a major factor and thankfully Alderman Lail gets around to making that point. The main issue is Citizens being allowed to address issues before votes are taken so that we don't go through what we went through about the Structure on Union Square or about the Swimming Pools. This is to the benefit of Council also to keep them from diving into the deep end on issues where they haven't gotten a feel for how citizens feel.

If you watch Monday's meeting, you will see that the Mayor wasn't prepared for the proceedings. He wanted to keep the motion process he had instituted a few months ago and it seemed that was what was truly upsetting him. Why he has a hard time putting this in print on the Agenda is beyond me. 

In his speech on this night, he talks about the "CEG Experience." So is that the reason why he can't come to grips with this? Does he have a problem with us on the verge of being successful about one of our issues? Is this because he has a personal issue with us? 

Well, we (Supporters of the Referendum) have a reason to take it personally after he (and his buddies) said we were all associated with ACORN and called us sinister and liars and asked if we had consciences, said this was all about getting crackpots (Larry Pope's) on Council and such; but the issues are a lot more important to us than personalities. We are willing to work with anybody. If Mayor Wright showed up at lunch (or anywhere else) I would not run away.

This whole thing about accusing people of going behind his back has been an exercise I have been observing for the years I have been involved in the local political scene. But, who is really going behind who's back?

One of my associates was present at the Council the other night and her definition of the Mayor's address was "Bombastic." Yes, the Mayor may not have been out of control ranting and raving, but he was being accusatory when he had no reason to be and especially over something this trivial. I did not throw the "He can be removed" statement out there as  in this night. I threw it out there for him to understand that there are checks on him too. If Council can call citizens out of order, then they can call the Mayor out of order too.

The whole timing issue stems from the night when Larry Pope protested in the Well of the Chamber. Council Members want to see situations such as that brought under control. The timing mechanism is a method to "wrap people up" should they get on a rant and just be up there attacking Council Members. As Alders Patton and Fox expressed on Monday, their intent is not to silence people. Their intent is to have rules, structure, and decorum... And frankly I don't blame them for that.

And it is my opinion that this (timing) is really not the axe that Mayor Wright is grinding. It is like a citizen who doesn't regularly attend Council Meetings stated. They voted to spend $9 million without any discussion and then spent an hour on a procedural matter. What he didn't know is that this procedural issue will be going into it's fifth month.

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