Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 18, 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 November 18, 2014

Thoughts about the City Council meeting of November 18, 2014 - I didn't do an article of thoughts this week. I will incorporate thoughts into this article.

 The Hound's Notes:  

This meeting was a mostly a feel-good session for the council.

The Furniture Academy presentation was a neat little presentation. The only issues that I have is the associated cost of the program to participants. People aren't going to pay that cost without expecting a payoff. Mr. McBrayer stated that the Furniture Industry didn't have a feeder program and this is it. Well, I'm sure that he would agree that that was on the local furniture industry. This program seems to help cut "On the Job" training out of the loop. I would hope that if/since that is occurring that these companies will invest (a lot of money) in the program and pay scholarships for those who might not be able to afford the program. I'm not pretending to know and this may already be occurring, but I didn't hear this addressed on this night.

The issue with the Taxi Cab service seems to be unfair to the drivers. They talked about driving 6 miles and the time involved and getting a little over $2 in compensation. Not a lot of thought is needed to understand that they are not getting fairly compensated under those circumstances. Everything isn't about the business owner. He is going to get his cut. The person driving the cab isn't just making an hourly rate. They are compensated based on the fair. It is a service and if they can't make money doing this, then there won't be people to do this job and we won't have taxi service in Hickory. The viability of the service is important.   It was also brought to attention that we have two taxi companies in Hickory, but only one owner. That doesn't sound like a healthy industry.

The City Manager's compensation is ridiculous for a community of this size. That isn't a personal issue. The median per capita income in the Hickory Metro area is $23,263. The City Manager is receiving over $169,000 and that does not include the benefits that it is mandated that he receive (ie Insurance and Retirement Package, etc.).

The parking Deck at the Convention Center - It sure looks like it is going to cost more money than originally estimated. Mr. Mayor, here comes the change order.

Invocation by Rev. James Bernhardt, Pastor, Northminster Presbyterian Church

Special Presentations
A. Mr. Bill McBrayer Presentation of the Furniture Academy at CVCC
Catawba Valley Furniture Academy
 Lori Price
Customized Industry Training
Lori PriceDirector, Customized Industry Training
Phone:  828-327-7000 Ext. 4284
Mr. McBrayer, of Lexington Home Brands, is the spokesman for the program. His message is that furniture is alive and well in this region. He said there is lots of business and they can't find people to work. He said that the origins of this program were formed 2 1/2 years ago. This is a feeder program into the furniture industry that they did not have before. This program is operated at the East campus of CVCC. The program was launched on January 6, 2014. It started out with 15 students and now has a waiting list in excess of 100 people as of October 6, 2014 -- and more now. The teachers of the program are experienced furniture professionals. The program has nearly expanded to its maximum limit and is going to need the help of the local government to expand further in the near future.

B. Proclamation to Recognize Senator-Elect Andy Wells as Recipient of the North Carolina League of Municipalities’ Community Champion Award. 

C. Neighborhood College Graduation
Gretchen Oetting comments about this program to the Council. 
Melvin Meares  comments about this program to the Council. 

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
A. Ryan Neitz, Regarding Cab Fare Rate Increase -  (per Hickory Inc.) - Mr. Neitz addressed City Council on behalf of Yellow Cab Company. He distributed to City Council a list of fares from other companies in other cities with similar population as the City of Hickory. He pointed out that most of the other companies have a higher rate than they do. He commented that they would like to implement a $6.00 minimum charge to help cover their expenses, which would only affect their shorter trips. Currently they have a $2.00 drop charge, and a $2.00 per mile charge. The trips that would be affected would be the ones that are less than two miles.

B. Brian Taylor, Regarding Cab Fare Rate Increase -  (per Hickory Inc.) - Mr. Taylor addressed City Council and reiterated what Mr. Neitz had said. He stated that the City is expanding into Brookford and Mountain View, and they are requesting the rate increase to assist them with their expenses. Anything inside the City limits is ran on the meter, anything outside of the City limits they charge $2.00 per mile. The reason for the request for the rate increase is to compensate for the distance traveled. It would only affect the short trips. They would like to continue the service to the community as well as help out the cab drivers with their expenses, which are commission paid. He stated that they used the rates from different cities with similar populations as a guideline for the request. The current rate had been in place since 2006, which at that time went from $1.80 per mile to $2.00 per mile.

C. Cliff Moone - (per Hickory Inc.) - commended City Council for their efforts in the work that they did on the bond referendum. He appreciated attending the presentations, and working with the committee. He stated that he was probably the only candidate running for office who actually came out in support of the bond referendum and he was pleased that the bond referendum passed. City Council was available to answer questions, and to say why the City needed this to move forward. Mr. Moone also requested a proclamation for Bill of Rights Day and Human Rights Week during the week of December 10-16. He thanked Council for their support in previous years for Bill of Rights Day and listed supporters last year that issued proclamations for this day. He advised Council that he would be approaching the County Commissioners with this request as well.

Per Hickory Inc. - Alderman Zagaroli advised that the desk that Senator-Elect Wells would be sitting at in the State Senate was built in Hickory, North Carolina, as well as all of the furniture in the State Senate which was built by Hickory White. Hickory is in a prominent place in the State Senate. Mayor Wright recognized Webelos Scout Troop 250. Manager Berry recognized Katie Hayward, a Hickory High School Senior who is an intern with the City.

Consent Agenda:

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Public Hearing – for Consideration of Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of 20.446 acres located at 2415 Springs Road NE. - Northlake Southstar, LLC has submitted a petition for the voluntary contiguous annexation of 20.446 acres of property. The annexation area is comprised of what was the former St. Stephens Elementary School site, which is currently being developed into a shopping center and out parcels. The annexation is being requested in order to connect the City’s water and sewer system.

2. Public Hearing – for Consideration of Closing a Portion of 15th Street NW. - McDonald’s USA, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company (Tenant) and SRW, Inc., a North Carolina Corporation (Landlord) have petitioned to close a portion of 15th Street NW, containing .195 acres more or less. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on October 24, October 31, November 7 and November 14, 2014.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Amendment to City Manager’s Employment Agreement. -  After discussion in closed session of the City Manager’s FY 2013-2014 performance, City Council unanimously voted to consider in open session an amendment (first amendment) to the Manager’s June 22, 2004 employment agreement. Section 20: One Time Bonus. Employee shall receive a one-time lump sum bonus of $4,350, effective as of July 1, 2014.

2. Approval of an Agreement for Engineering Services with McGill Associate in the amount of $48,000 for the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility - McLin Creek Wastewater Pump Station Project. - The Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility (HCWWTF) – McLin Creek Wastewater Pump Station is necessary for areas northwest of the HCWWTF to receive treatment services at the HCWWTF. The HCWWTF is approximately 20 feet higher than the area next to McLin Creek/Lake Norman, therefore a pump station is required to lift this sewer into the influent of the treatment facility due to providing gravity sewer to the tributary properties. The agreement with McGill Associates will be for the planning, engineering, and permitting work necessary to complete the project. This project will be funded out of the HCWWTF Upgrade Project budget contingency line due to the pump station being a future component of the completed facility. All funding for the project is split equally between the City and Catawba County in accordance with the financing agreement for the HCWWTP. Staff recommends approval of this Agreement for Engineering Services with McGill Associates in the amount of $48,000.

3. Update on Construction of Hickory Metro Convention Center Parking Deck.Manager Berry stated that Soil work that was supposed to be done on Monday. The Soil conditions are more than the architect expected. The work has nort been completed. The information will be presented at the Council's workshop or the next City Council meeting. The matter was tabled until a later time.

Matters Not On Agenda 
(Per Hickory Inc.) - Alderman Lail made a motion to discuss the taxi rate increase request. City Council requested that Staff discuss the request and provide some statistics to Council. Mr. Berry advised Council that Staff would consolidate the information and bring back to Council at a future Council meeting. (Hound) Police Chief Adkins came to the podium and addressed the issue. He is waiting for the owner of the Cab company to come to him about the issue. It is basically an issue of gas prices that causes price increases. The two local cab companies are owned by the same individual.

General Comments 
Mayor Wright commented on the Christmas Parade scheduled for Friday, November 21st.
Alderman Guess advised that a flag had been presented to the City at the Elk’s Club for Veteran’s Day. The flag will replace the flag at Oakwood Cemetery in honor of our veterans.

No comments: