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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 20, 2014

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

Agenda about the City Council meeting of May 20, 2014

Inspiring Spaces Committee Final Report 

Thoughts about last night's Hickory City Council meeting - May 20, 2014

 The Hound's Notes: 

There are a couple of things about the Inspiring Spaces presentation that took place before the City Council meeting. First, Meg Locke went right to the point when she articulated her unrequited trust of Hickory Inc. Ms. Locke is a Hickory insider and Hickory Inc. has done more for her than they haven't. There aren't many people in this community that can say that. We'd like to live in Ms. Locke's world for a day. That doesn't mean that we are jealous. We'd like to trade shoes for perspective.

Some of the Inspiring Spaces projects might be ok, but I'm not so sure I'm as trusting as she is based upon Hickory Inc.'s track record. City Manager Berry made it clear that the bonds would be for a list and not specific projects and timetables. Hickory Inc. will be setting the priorities and the objectives. Just remember "the Sails" and the Farmer's market sit outside Ms. Locke's business on Union Square and now we are supposed to build a $27 million sidewalk to her other business at Hollar Mill. That is where her perspective lies. How many of us are on committees that can make decisions where community interests can be entangled with our own?

Look at what we see with this committee, lots of connections to one another and the City Council. Also, lots of wealth on this committee compared to most Hickory citizens. Can these people relate to your average Hickory citizen? What a few hundred dollars means to them is completely different from what it means to most.

Another point, I don't see how they can claim that the widening of LR Blvd led to the private investment at Hollar Mill or Moretz Mill. Yes, Hollar Hosiery was redeveloped, but no one ever said that they were waiting for that road to open before moving forward with its renovation.  Let us also remember that with the "Economic Incentives" that the city has outlayed to these projects, it will be a few years before they "increase the tax base." Two properties, Piedmont Wagon and Lyerly Mill will be paying no City of Hickory Property Tax for seven years, so they are definitely not increasing the tax base. If our overall tax receipts don't rise, how can it be claimed that this was an increase as opposed any normal remodeling/developing that occurs?

Yes, we are glad to see these properties renovated and yes, we hope for their success; but we should not focus city dollars in one small part of the city, while continuing to ignore the others. I'm all for this Wingfoot area continuing to move forward in association with a redefined Downtown. That is the reason why I think a Business Improvement District Tax for the newly redefined Downtown is the way to go to raise the monies necessary to do what the property and business owners of that area want to do in that area.


Invocation, Susan Smith, Exodus Homes

Special Presentations
A. Business Well Crafted Award to Mark Romeo, Cox Manufacturing

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
A. Dan Green, In House Counsel for Meridian Senior Living, Information Regarding a Golf Tournament for National Alzheimer’s Awareness. - (per Hickory Inc.) - Mr. Dan Green presented information to City Council regarding “A Round to Remember”, a golf tournament, which is a grassroots program that works to educate people about Alzheimer’s and to raise awareness for those facing the disease. Over five million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and there are 15 million people acting as their caregivers. The golf tournament is being sponsored to benefit Alzheimer’s, jointly sponsored by Conde Nast Media Corporation. The tournament will be held at the Ole Still Golf Club in Oliver’s Landing Section on June 19, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. There are other opportunities for other individuals and entities to be sponsors and donate to the tournament for the benefit of Alzheimer’s. Mr. Green can be contacted for information regarding entry fees and registration.

B. Cliff Moone once again spoke regarding his support of Inspiring Spaces and the City Council. - (per Hickory Inc.) - addressed Council on his support, and encouragement of Inspiring Spaces. He was concerned that Council was in a contemplative mood about this. He stated that the Inspiring Spaces report was an excellent report, very interesting, and very well presented by Mr. Shuford. Mr. Moone commented that when he came to Hickory in 1988, Hickory was really taking off and doing a lot of wonderful things,a lot of growth, and a lot of excitement. In 2002, he had a very mild heart attack and ended up having surgery at Frye Hospital. While he was in the hospital his heart stopped for 15-30 seconds. He was awakened by a nurse slapping him in the face, saying not on my watch you don’t. It reminded him that we have gone through 10 to 12 years of not being dead, for certainly, no this City. But being a City that has been in some ways on life support. He stated that the comment was made not on your watch let this happen, we have an opportunity here. He wants Council to have the May 20, 2014 enthusiasm that Ms. Locke has, moving this thing forward. Because it is up to Council, the leaders of the community, and others to go out and let the folks know the information about how much it is going to cost. He is one of those people that has a house that is just a little over that $150,000 dollar range that is the average home in Hickory. For Council to raise his taxes over that period of ten years, $120 isn’t fearful for him at all. It is something that says I am going to invest in this City for the next 30, 40, 50 years, and after I am gone planting those shades. He read that the fastest growing area in Catawba County is Sherrills Ford. He doesn’t want to see his City left behind. He doesn’t want us to be on this side of 40 falling behind when we can be moving ahead. He asked Council to aggressively go forth, and support the Inspiring Spaces initiative as he will as well.

Consent Agenda

Informational Item
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to Raleigh, North Carolina

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Consideration of Amending Chapter 2, Article 8, Youth Council, of the Hickory City Code of Ordinance of the City of Hickory by Amending Sections 2-240, 2-242(a)(c), and 2-245.

2. Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of 1515 Cloninger Mill Road NE, Hickory.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Call for Public Hearing on the City Manager’s FY2014-2015 Recommended Annual Budget. 

The Hound's Notes:
As I stated earlier this budget was Mick Berry and Hickory Inc.'s finest hour during his tenure. By all indications, Hickory Inc. was looking to increase property taxes to help pay for Inspiring Spaces, but somewhere along the way, they changed their mind about how and when to finance it. In my opinion, that was the wisest decision until the public gives it a nod of approval.

The budget City Manager Berry put forth does have a 2¢ increase in the tax rate. Anyone should accept the additional penny for roads and the additional penny for operational costs due to the loss in revenue of the hold harmless monies that have been coming from the State Government. I can't emphasize enough that the action taken on this night is fiscally sound.


General Comments - (per Hickory Inc.)

Mayor Wright commented that he heard Taste of Hickory was great.
Alderwoman Patton confirmed it was. 
Mayor Wright commented record crowds maybe.
Alderwoman Patton stated they did a great job.
Mayor Wright commented that is a good venue for it.
Alderwoman Patton stated that the weather cooperated. They were so afraid that it was going to rain, and the sun came out,and it was beautiful. They did a great job.
Alderman Seaver commented it was a beautiful day.

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