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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 21, 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 Action Agenda - May 21, 2013

(:20) Invocation by Rev. Mark Andrews, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

Special Presentations
A. (Not Present) - Presentation of a Proclamation for Barbershop Harmony Week. -
B. (3:40) - Presentation of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2012. This is the eighteenth consecutive year the City has received this recognition.
C. (6:55) - Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award to Gar Atchison, Vice President of  Business Development, Frye Regional Medical Center by Laurie Hoover from the Business Development Committee.

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
(14:20) - Larry G. Pope, commented on the rehabilitation of the swimming pools in Morganton and Newton.

(18:00) - James Thomas Shell,  spoke on the request for public information.

(25:15) - J. Franklin Davis asked City Council about bidding processes on projects in the City. He stated he would like City Council to set up a civil police review board with subpoena capabilities. He commented that he wanted the City Council Meetings televised.

Consent Agenda: (29:00)
A. 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 May 2, 2013:
Andrea Davis was approved for recommendation to City Council for first-time homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 470 South Center Street, Hickory. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval in the amount of $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.
James & Elaine Coulter, 651 7th Avenue SE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $15,000 for repairs to their house. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 15 year period.
Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2012 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program.
B. Request Acceptance of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Management Review.
C. Request Approval of Modifications to the Special Event Permit for Sails Music Series. City Staff has modified the agreement with OHB to charge $25 for the privilege of being the sole vendor at the Sails on the Square Music Series. This is in line with the monthly fee for outdoor dining that other Union Square retailers pay. As additional vendors are invited to participate in this event in the future, if additional brewers have the proper ALE permit, then the fee will be factored into any future agreements with additional vendors. Staff recommends approval of the modification of the Special Event Permit for the Sails Music Series.
D. Special Events/Activities Application for Rotarian Idols on Tour, Mandy Pitts, Communications Director/Brand Manager, June 3, June 10, June 17, and June 24, 2013, 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Sails on the Square stage on Union Square.
E. Special Events/Activities Application for A Hickory Holiday, Connie Kincaid, Hickory Downtown Development Association, December 12, 2013, 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Union Square and surrounding blocks.
F. Special Events/Activities for Heritage Music Series Concerts 3 & 4, Mandy Pitts, Communications Director/Brand Manager, July 28, 2013 and August 25, 2013, 12:00p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Sails on the Square.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. (29:40) - Voluntary Satellite Annexation of .9853 acres of Property Located on a Portion of 3005 and 3107 Springs Road NE Hickory. -  Ashton Properties, Inc., agent for Nguyet Thu Ngo, has submitted a petition for the voluntary satellite annexation of 0.9853 acres of property, which are portions of 3005 and 3107 Springs Road NE. The petitioner intends to construct a retail business (Family Dollar) on the property and needs sanitary sewer service for its operations.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. (33:15) - Call for Public Hearing on the City Manager’s FY2013-2014 Recommended Annual Budget. (Authorize Public Hearing for June 4, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers of the Julian G. Whitener Municipal Building). The 2013-2014 Recommended Annual Budget has been distributed to City Council as required by law and is available for review in the Office of the City Clerk, Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Library.

 The Hound's Summation: The Property Tax rate isn't going up in 13-14, but fees are going up. They don't want to raise the property tax rate, because this is an election year and that is all most of the simpleton's seem to care about, The deal is if you listen to what is said here, then you hear them tell you that the tax rate is going to rise sooner rather than later.

I would like to see everyone in Catawba County aggressively challenge their tax assessment rates that are coming due next year. Properties are way overvalued in the area, especially residential properties. The local governments have basically lowered Commercial and Industrial Property rates, while balancing their budgets on the backs of Residential properties. I estimate that on average these properties are overvalued by around 20%, some higher some lower. I really don't care what their formula is. The realistic value of a home lies in how much you can get for it in six months. If you have to lower it substantially to get it to move, then that is its value, not the conjecture of an appraiser. 

You can look at the Power Point slides below. Sales Tax receipts are up by 2%, but that isn't real growth. We know that the actual inflation rate ,not the cooked book Consumer Price Index, is higher than this. The CPI is kept conservatively low so that the government and corporations don't have to pay higher cost of living adjustments. So what we are actually seeing is a contraction in the local economy. The Real Inflation rate this year has been around 4%, so with a 2% growth in the sales tax what we are seeing is a contraction in real consumer spending. Ask people around you if they are buying fewer goods and services.

Some of these people know this. They are just trying to buy time, hoping something will happen to improve our economic situation, but buying time is like sands running through an hour glass and the pace is quickening. All it does is take you to the end result.

Inspiring Spaces... honestly I'd like to see that be a positive, but is it just a stimulus for these people's buddies? And the more well to do don't need to be making all of the decisions, because let's be frank, some of the stuff that money has been spent on around here sucks. We know that the geniuses will oppose Aquatic Recreation just to spite those who support it. The "Bigger Man" theory only applies to we people who are looked upon as losers. The onus is on Hickory Inc. to show that this will be for everyone and not Corporate Welfare on the local level.

Matters Not on the Agenda:
(1:31:00) Alder Patton spoke about Swinging under the Stars at the Sails this weekend May 25, 2013

(1:31:30) Alderman Lail had some good comments about a trip to Washington that some of the Council and Assistant City Manager Surratt took recently. Those comments come at the        mark of the video and I will include this in the Economic Stories of Relevance this week, because this is exactly what has needed to happen. We have needed to confront this situation head on for years now. The Mayor still thinks none of this is our fault. The Mayor is wrong. Y'all know how I feel about that.

City of Hickory City Council Video Presentation:

1 comment:

Harry Hipps said...

So it seems to me that they are dipping into reserve funds to balance the budget instead of raising the property tax rate. It shows us a couple of things:
First, it shows that Mick Berry will do whatever to protect Rudy and the munchkins. Put off tough decisions until after the election.

Second, it shows the lack of growth and the fiscal effects of the stagnancy we have here.

Third, I fear the increase will be substantial. Why? Well, the revenues aren't really covering all costs. The Council is wanting to do some spending on the Perspiring Space initiative and whatever else their cronies want them to. And if we get an honest (ahem) appraisal of our property values (no Charlotte jokes here please) the rate will have to go up just to compensate for the decline in property value.

there just is no substitute for growth and we don't really have it. They can manipulate things through the election and most idiots won't know what's really going on, but they will pay attention for a day or two when the bad news hits. I'd do it close to the Holidays or during football playoffs so they'll only yell for a day.

I move we put an awning on the sails. It'll stimulate growth.