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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of April 16, 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 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.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:

City Council Meeting Agenda -April 16, 2013 (7MB)

Invocation by Rev. Whit Malone, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

Special Presentations
A. (2:40) - Business Well Crafted Award to Skipper Smith, Catawba Paper Box - Alan Jackson Presentation from the Business Development Committee -

Persons Requesting to Be Heard

(11:10) Cliff Moone - Speaks about the video taping of meetings and speaks about already being recorded in relation to expanding knowledge of City Council. He also asked that bathrooms be opened to the public for the "Bloody Sunday" March taking place on April 20, 2013.

(13:00) Angela Hurd - City of Refuge Community Development Center, which is a Mission for Children in the community. Utilizes Ridgeview Parks and Recreation Building. It is an after school and summer program that has helped 250 children since its inception.

(16:25) Steve Ivester - Speaking on the State changing Economic Development Regions and Zones. Endorses City Council's Consent Agenda A, which is a Resolution Recommended by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments Policy Board Regarding the State Designation of Regions for Provision of Services. (If you care about Economic Development in the area, then this is an excellent summary of the crossroads that Hickory is at when it relates to Economic Development).

(22:25) Larry Pope - He spoke about his involvement in reporting and the actions taken relating to the materials illegally sold to recycling centers from the demolished city swimming pools a couple years ago. He would like to see a Citizen's Review Board instituted in Hickory.  He also asked that the bathrooms be opened to the public for the "Bloody Sunday" March taking place on April 20, 2013. Another group has been allowed to utilize City facilities for Church, he wants all groups to be treated equally.

Consent Agenda: (30:40)
A. Approval of a Resolution Recommended by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments Policy Board Regarding the State Designation of Regions for Provision of Services.  - Proposed legislation (Senate Bill 127 and House Bill 356) divides our region and many of the other Council of Government (COG) regions in the State. Any division of the State should utilize the COG regions. Since only seven State regions are proposed, the new State regions should include multiple COG regions but not divide any COG regions.

B. Approval of a Resolution in Support of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. -  The proposed state budget reduces the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to $15.5 million from $27.5 million and also removes its dedicated source of funding. The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association has requested that all local governments consider and approve a resolution in support of continued and dedicated funding of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and, that a copy of the resolution be sent to each of the members of the General Assembly representing the citizens of Hickory.

C. Call for a Public Hearing – Voluntary Satellite Annexation of 2.67 Acres of property located at 3254 South NC Hwy 127, Hickory (Authorize Public Hearing for May 7, 2013)

 D. Approval to Apply for a Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant to Purchase Twenty (20) In-Car Digital Cameras at a Cost of $120,000. - A standard marked Hickory Police Vehicle is equipped with a specialized Mobile Video In-Car Camera for all new police vehicles. Life expectancy will be five (5) to ten (10) years on the in-car cameras. These cameras can be reinstalled in new vehicles as required. The digital video recording system is to be installed in police vehicles at an estimated cost of $6,000 per in-car camera. If awarded the grant for twenty (20) digital video in car cameras at a cost of $120,000 the portion Governor’s Highway Safety Grant would match is $60,000. The City portion would be $60,000. Along with installing in-car cameras in new police vehicles, these cameras will replace any camera no longer working or supported by a vendor.

E. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 17
1. To budget a $1,500 donation from the Hickory Elks Lodge in the Parks and Recreation-Recreation Supplies line item for the 2013 Easter Egg Hunt. The City of Hickory's Park and Recreation Department coordinates this annual event.
2. To budget $6,200 of Parks and Recreation donations in the Parks and Recreation Departmental Supplies line item. These donations are Senior Games Sponsorships.
3. To appropriate $2,128 of Community Block Grant reimbursement revenues and transfer to the General Fund-Capital Improvements line item. These funds are necessary to pay for the permits, lighting and curb mix needed for the 400 Block of South Center Street paving project.
4. To appropriate $31,364 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 Improvements line item. This amendment is necessary to purchase the materials, including asphalt and concrete, for the parking lot located at 222 3rd St. SW, (Contiguous to HPD Headquarters property). The materials are necessary to grade, shape, pave, curb and gutter, storm drains, catch basins, trenching for data and phone lines, lighting and pole, fencing and repair disturbed areas of landscaping. The parking area will provide 48 additional spaces for parking and will connect to the existing parking lot of HPD. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.

Informational Items (30:55)
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to Town Hall Day in Raleigh, NC on March 26-27, 2013 (Meals - $61.50; Mileage Reimbursement $189.84; Lodging - $101.48; Registration $35)

New Business -  Public Hearings
1. (31:40) Consideration of the City of Hickory’s 2013 Community Development Block Grant Budget and Action Plan. - The City of Hickory will receive approximately $272,574 in 2013 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and approximately $160,400 in program income for a total of $432,974. Funds will be used to develop stronger communities by providing decent housing, creating suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for people of low and moderate incomes. The Annual Action Plan is a yearly update to the City of Hickory's 5 Year Consolidated Plan. The Consolidated Plan is a 5-year strategic vision for housing and community development needs within the City. The Annual Action Plan sets priorities among these needs and sets out the action plan for use of available funds on a yearly basis. This provides for flexibility in determining priorities as the needs of the community change from year to year. The Annual Action Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on May 15, 2013 as the City's strategy for administering 2013 federal funds for community development and housing. This public hearing was advertised on April 5, 2013 and April 16, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.


*** Steve Ivester asked about the numbers above not adding up and it was eventually stated bu Brian Frazier that the numbers for the Bathroom Facility at Kiwanis had been accidentally omitted.

*** Larry Pope spoke and stated that he is concerned about the same groups constantly getting grants from the city. He specifically spoke about Exodus Homes and said that groups receive money at their inception, but eventually they should be weened. He has spoken about this over the last few years.

The Hound agrees with Larry Pope and many other Citizens in this community that the same groups should not be constantly receiving this Federal money year after year. I do think that there are many worthy groups in the community and many don't receive any funding. There needs to be a discussion a thorough discussion about this issue in this community.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. (44:55) Quarterly Financial Report -Presentation by Assistant City manager Warren Wood

* Will avoid third straight year of tax base decline
* Most other revenues are stable Multiple opportunities for financial partnerships to improve and/or upgrade City owned facilities
* General Fund Debt Free in 8 years = capacity
* Water and Sewer Fund on solid financial footing
* Airport Self Supporting

The Hound thinks that the city needs to look from a perspective of the citizenry every once in a while, in contrast to the effects on Hickory Inc.'s bottom line. Let's look at all of this in relation to the citizen's cost of living and a business's cost of doing business. I understand the need to look at aggregate revenues and related growth, but the city's financial health has very little to do with its tax base and a whole lot more to do with income growth and wealth (profits) of its citizenry and its businesses and its citizens' ability to pay taxes.  Income - Expenses = wealth (profit). Expenses are continuing to increase, while revenues have flatlined and wealth is shrinking.

As far as Hickory Inc.'s worries in relation to the State's proposed tax changes, This City Council seems to believe that a North Carolina State Sales Tax Increase is Regressive and Unfair? But then this same City Council believes a Hickory City Sales Tax instituted upon prepared foods is Good and Progressive? You know that doesn't make sense. I can't wait to hear them try to explain their way out of that one.

Mrs. Fox is correct about consumption being down and those effects upon these Sales Tax revenues. Increasing sales taxes (a regressive tax) in a bad economy will not increase revenues. They also need to look at citizen's opting out through a barter economy and black market activities. We cannot move towards eliminating taxes upon the wealthy with hopes that it will make us more competitive. The key should be to broaden the base, make taxes more equitable percentage wise, take the loopholes out of the system, and get it to where people have skin in the game in relation to how they benefit from the system. Whenever people look for someone else to pay besides themselves, then you land exactly where we are today.

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