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.
Hound Notes:I didn't put out an agenda. Sinus infection wearing me out again and nothing pressing about this meeting. I was aware of the subject Alderman Lail brought up at the meeting regarding the low appraisal for properties on F Avenue at the corner of Tate Boulevard and Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard. 5 pieces of property valued at $17,000 -- not a piece, but total. I saw on Catawba County GIS that the City purchased the property in 2003. One of the properties (870) was bought for $9,000 and a house was razed that year that had been located there. The current assessed value of that property is $7,000 and we see the property being sold (average of 5 properties) for $3,400. It was good to see Alderman Lail being a good steward of the public trust, others have shown a propensity not to care. The ends justify the means for their agenda.
The Splash Pad at Kiwanis Park drew the most attention on the night. Everyone seemed to be excited by the idea. Mac McLeod, Head of Parks and Rec, talked about the desire for the park to have a Wow! factor to be a regional draw. He showed various regional splash pads and the features they had from the most basic to some with overhead features. There were three plans presented with estimated price tags ranging from $253,000 to $360,000 and it was stated that these costs do include contingency dollars, but don't include any infrastructure improvement dollars. The Kiwanis propose to pay $100,000 through a fundraising effort and Hickory Inc. is proposing to pay the rest.Staff is open to any changes that would be proposed.
He was asked by Alderman Seaver about capacity and he said that under option 2 and 3 that it could handle 250 children. Alderman Guess asked about additional property available and Mac stated that it was limited. Rodney Miller, Hickory Inc.'s Financial Officer said this is an unfunded project, but the City does have plans. There will be a Capital Planning Workshop on November 3rd. This will be one of those funding projects and they will prioritize the projects at that meeting.
The Mayor made a valid point about other areas of the city would want a splash pad and so they needed to be careful about the money they spent at this one. He talked about the benefits of starting on the low end. Again Alderman Lail was on point when he spoke about not getting ahead of themselves because of constraints on parking at that venue and limited space, when you already have baseball fields in heavy use in the summer, picnic shelters, and Zahra's playground at that location.
Good to see Mac McLeod step away from a possible Conflict of Interest. He is the Chairman of the western Catawba County Kiwanis and doesn't believe he should oversee a project as the Executive Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Hickory and as the Chairman of Kiwanis. He stated that he talked it over with Staff Attorney Arnita Dula and she agreed with him. The Mayor more than mildly objected to this, worried that it would set some sort of precedent that others may later have to adhere to, when it wasn't necessary in the Mayor's opinion. City Attorney John Crone agreed with Director McLeod. Mac's right, Mayor's wrong, and if it does set a precedent that hasn't been honored in the past, then good. It's time to have some standards.
The Mayor addressed the issues related to Hickory Public Housing Authority. He made a statement about not liking to place people on the board that have an agenda. EVERYONE, especially him, that are in the political arena here, there, and everywhere have an agenda.
His agenda has been the status quo and he has been very successful at maintaining it. We're essentially at the same place we were when he took office 14 years ago. He has made sure that no one competes against the business interests that support him. It is not only him,. It has been every member of that Council and the City Staff. If you aren't on board with that agenda, then you are out of their version of luck. Deal is that real luck has a lot to do with karma. So you wanna put all your chips in one basket... well, let's just say, I learned that lesson a long, long time ago.
The Mayor keeps doubling down on his support of the Housing Authority and all of the people involved with it. At the same time he keeps passing the buck on the issue of authority. I do agree with him that it is out of his hands now, but it wasn't always out of his hands. Thing is that he's been gambling (since 2012) with the house's money. He might have been able to get the U.S. Justice Department and HUD to let bygones be bygones had they acted back in 2012, but he mandated that we maintain the status quo of the HPHA and nothing changed. HUD has had 3 subsequent investigations since that time. They held a special meeting of the city council back on September 16th so that the Mayor could essentially reiterate the status quo. He would not let the public speak at that meeting. It was a very short dog and pony show held for the Charlotte media, which have been all over this story.
One of this Council's most vocal supporter's, the Reverend Glenn Pinckney, jumped off the wagon. His piece in the Hickory Daily Record a month ago was a scathing indictment against the HPHA management and Hickory Inc.'s stewardship of that program. He was a member of the so called "Hickory United", another cooked up political entity that couldn't keep its books straight, just like its successor Boost Hickory. Mr. Pinckney endorsed Mayor Wright and 4th ward Alderman Hank Guess just two short years ago in the most public way possible.
There's one thing that is more than evident with those who have no agenda. You're to drink the Koolaid and know your place in the pecking order. When they want your opinion, they'll give it to you. The two people the Mayor mentioned on this night will never agree to that.
Whistleblower's are treated badly around here. Frankly, they are treated bad everywhere in North Carolina. The Mayor didn't want to replace anyone on that board, but he surely wanted to replace Larry Pope. Whistleblowing is the obvious reason why Larry Pope was deposed from the HPHA board. He pointed out the irregularities. If there were issues with the HPHA and Larry had not spoken up, it's obvious that everyone else thinks everything's fine and was going to say nothing. Then in the people with no agenda's world, these problems would have never been brought up and they would have been allowed to go on without being addressed. Let's just suppose that Larry and the people who have come forward have it right. What have we seen? If there is a problem, you've got no one to turn to in Hickory. You are on your own. What happens in those kinds of places?
Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.
One reason I've been writing less lately is because sometimes less is more. Especially when you have people coming up to say that they appreciate what you do, but then they go support the status quo. My hope of late is that if I say nothing on an issue, maybe these people will accidentally do the right thing. I'm not against everything the city does, but they've been against everything I stand for.
Invocation by Rev. David Roberts II, Pastor, Morning Star First Baptist Church
A. Swearing-in Mike Johnson and Dean Proctor to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
B. Presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2015 by Paula Hodges, Audit Partner with Martin Starnes & Associates
Persons Requesting to Be Heard
A. Proclamation for Extra Mile Day, November 1, 2015.
B. Proclamation for Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31, 2015.
C. Approval of a Lease Agreement for Property Located at 304 3rd Street SW, Hickory to Jamie Janine Reed and Christopher Martin Stevey. - Hickory Police Department purchased and renovated the property at 304 3rd Street SW Hickory. The property is adjacent to the current 6.18 acres of City owned property and would provide necessary land for any future expansion of the Police Department. The property has three bedrooms, two baths, stove, refrigerator, and microwave. Hickory Police Department requests leasing the property to Jamie Janine Reed and Christopher
Martin Stevey in the amount of $600 per month, beginning November 1, 2015. The tenant will be responsible for all utilities.
D. Approval of Amended Special Event Application for 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Meghan Lawton, Regional Manager, Alzheimer’s Association of WNC, Crawdad’s Stadium/Park, October 31, 2015 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
E. 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 October 1, 2015:
Raymond Mitchell, 638 3rd Avenue Drive SE, Hickory, was approved for Loan Subordination. Mr. Mitchell’s loan was done under the First-Time Homebuyers Program. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommended this subordination to help Mr. Mitchell do a loan modification to lower his monthly payment/interest rate and make it more affordable. He will not be taking any money out for personal use.
Each of the following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2015 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income citizens with assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $8,000.
Ruth Adams, 117 3rd Avenue SW, Hickory
Irma Griffin, 529 12th Street SW, Hickory
Teresa Robinson, 3271 Blue Sky Court, Newton
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the aforementioned requests for assistance through the City of Hickory’s housing assistance programs.
F. Approval of “Food for Fines” Amnesty Weeks at the Libraries. - Approval of the waiver of overdue fines for library customers who donate canned, boxed, or bagged food items at either Patrick Beaver Memorial Library or Ridgeview Branch Library during the two-week period of December 1-15, 2015. One item of food will cancel $1 in overdue fines, and donated items will be given to Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry. Library staff recommends approval of the annual “Food for Fines” Amnesty Weeks.
G. Approval of the Capital Purchase of Structural Firefighting Gear for FY15/16 in the Amount of $385,000. - Hickory Fire Department requests approval for the purchase of structural firefighting gear for all personnel. The last purchase of structural firefighting gear was in FY09/10. The fire department incorporates the use of an equipment committee made up of full-time personnel. This committee is tasked with reviewing best practices from across North Carolina and the United States when reviewing tools for apparatus or equipment for the firefighters. The committee chose the Honeywell/Morning Pride line of structural gear for its build qualities, exceptional protection during fire conditions, and renowned customer service. In the analysis, local cooperative purchase plans and local government awarded bid contracts were reviewed to see if any could be utilized in meeting the purchasing needs of the fire department. The Charlotte Cooperative Purchasing Alliance has such a contract, and the terms have been extended to all North Carolina fire departments that wish to piggyback on the contracts purchasing agreement with Morning Pride. The fire department will be purchasing 130 complete sets of structural firefighting gear, at an approximate cost of $356,000. This cost may increase or decrease depending on the sizing changes that may occur between different personnel. The fire department recommends acceptance of the Charlotte Cooperative Purchasing Alliance terms for the purchase of the CIP structural firefighting gear for personnel.
H. Approval of a Contract with Crowder Construction Company in the amount of $2,699,000 for the Emergency Power Generator Replacement Project at the Water Treatment Facility. - The City of Hickory Water Treatment Facility was last upgraded in 1993. This upgrade included the installation of a new emergency generator that would provide power to portions of the facility in the event of power failure. The generator is approximately 24 years old and is a permit required critical piece of equipment for operations of the facility. The generator is experiencing failures on the power generation end of the emergency generator and has exceeded the mechanical life of the unit. Staff has had the existing emergency generator evaluated and vendors cannot provide replacement parts to repair the existing unit. In October of 2014, with City Council’s approval, HDR Engineering Inc. analyzed and designed the project. The project was advertised for bid and Crowder Construction Company was the lowest responsible bidder. On October 6, 2015, on second reading, Council accepted bids on this project. This project is planned as a component of the FY 15-16 Capital Budget to be funded from Capital Reserves. Staff recommends Council award the contract for the Water Treatment Facility emergency power generator replacement project with Crowder Construction Company being the lowest responsible bidder in the amount of $2,699,000.
I. Approval of an Amendment to the Agreement for Engineering Services with HDR Engineering, Inc. of the Carolinas in the Amount of $114,500. - In October of 2014, City Council approved a contract with HDR Engineering, Inc. of the Carolinas to perform professional engineering services for the generator at the Water Treatment Facility. Staff is proposing to hire HDR Engineering, Inc. to provide construction administration and inspection services on the project due to the level of familiarity with the design and infrastructure. This project is anticipated to take
approximately a year to complete and will be staffed with an engineer full-time while the contractor is on-site. Fees were negotiated using standard accepted tables. This project is planned as a component of the FY 15-16 Capital Budget to be funded from Capital Reserves. Staff recommends Council’s approval of this Amendment to the Agreement for Engineering Services with HDR Engineering, Inc. of the Carolinas to perform professional engineering services related to construction administration and inspection services for the replacement emergency generator at the Water Treatment Facility in the amount of $114,500.
J. Acceptance of 35th Avenue Court NE into the City of Hickory’s Street Maintenance. - 35th Avenue Court NE was recently brought up to City of Hickory roadway standards by adjacent property owners. The section is approximately 550 feet long and is located on the east side of Falling Creek Road between Falling Creek Estates and Woodlawn Memorial Gardens. Public right of way existed previously and roadway is within the City limits. This street is eligible for City maintenance and inclusion on the Powell Bill listing. The work required to bring the road to City of Hickory standards was financed entirely with private funds and no City monies were used for that work. Staff recommends that 35th Avenue Court NE be accepted by City of Hickory street maintenance and inclusion on Powell Bill listing.
K. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 8.
1. To recognize $300.00 revenue received from Youth Council participants for their portion of the fee for attendance at state conference in Winston-Salem the weekend of October 9-11, 2015.
2. To transfer unspent funds of $383 within Capital Project #546014 (Storm Damage Repair) back to the General Fund and close out the project.
3. Upon closing Grant Project #G5110O (Police Dept. vests 2013), $2 was remaining and transferred back to the General Fund. The original grant in the amount of $25,200 ($9,350.17 Federal Funds and $15,849.83 Local Match) was accepted by City Council on December 3, 2013. The grant project provided 42 vests for the Hickory Police Department. Unused funds in the amount of $2 will
be returned to the General Fund.
4. To amend the budget for the FY14 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program - Award #2014-DJ-BX-1087 - Award Date 08/29/14 - Award Project Period 10/01/13 to 09/30/15. Federal award in the amount of $23,359 for the purchase of Training Breaching Door Kit, Individual Officer Trauma Kit, and Ballistic Shield. Council approved application process on
05/20/14. Council accepted the grant award on 09/16/14. Final amendment request to fund expenditure overages for the project in the amount of $43. The overage will be transferred from the General Fund Hickory Police Departmental Supplies Operating Budget.
L. Grant Project Ordinance Number 3.
1. This Grant Project Ordinance will set up revenue and expenditure line-item budgets for the 2015 Urgent Repair Program (URP15). The City of Hickory was approved by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency in the amount of $50,000 with a local required match of $5,000. The required match is provided by Miscellaneous Revenues/Program Income.
M. Grant Project Ordinance Number 4.
1. This Grant Project Ordinance will establish the project budget for the purchase of 12 body-worn cameras, hardware, service, and digital evidence management solution for the Hickory Police Department and the purchase of equipment for officer training by Catawba County. Federal funding in the amount of $19,555 is available to the City and $12,900 is available for Catawba County. Hickory is the lead agency for grant administration. Council accepted the award on September 15, 2015.
N. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment Number 2.
1. To transfer unspent funds of $383 within Capital Project #546014 (Storm Damage Repair) back to the General Fund and close out the project.
2. To transfer unspent funds of $2 within Capital Project #G5110O back to the General Fund and close the project. The original grant in the amount of $25,200 ($9,350.17 Federal Funds and $15,849.83 Local Match) was accepted by City Council on December 3, 2013. The grant project provided 42 vests for the Hickory Police Department. Unused funds in the amount of $2 will be returned to the General Fund.
3. To move a total of $78,750 in CDBG Entitlement Block Grant revenues into CDBG Public Infrastructure for street resurfacing ($18,750) and Optimist Park improvements for tennis court renovations ($60,000).
4. To amend the budget for the FY14 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program - Award #2014-DJ-BX-1087 - Award Date 08/29/14 - Award Project Period 10/01/13 to 09/30/15. Federal award in the amount of $23,359 for the purchase of Training Breaching Door Kit, Individual Officer Trauma Kit, and Ballistic Shield. Council approved application process on 05/20/14. Council accepted the grant award on 09/16/14. Final amendment request to fund expenditure overages for the project in the amount of $43. The overage will be transferred from the General Fund Hickory Police Departmental Supplies Operating Budget.
A. Mayor Wright’s Travel to Ignition City Vision 2015, Winston-Salem, NC, October 12, 2015 (Registration $410; Mileage Reimbursement $81.65).
New Business - Public Hearings
1. Consideration of Voluntary Contiguous Annexation of 11.936 acres Located in the 3000 Block of Short Road. - A petition was submitted on behalf of Cecil and Rachel Munday for the voluntary contiguous annexation of 11.936 acres of property located in the 3000 block of Short Road. The annexation area is the proposed location of an eighty unit residential apartment complex. The construction of which will require municipal water and sewer service. Upon analysis, Staff has determined the petition meets the statutory requirements for voluntary contiguous annexation, and adequate public services are available. Staff recommends approval of the requested annexation. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on October 9, 2015.
2. Consideration of the Sale of Five City-Owned Properties Located on F Avenue SE. - The City owns five properties located on F Avenue SE that were originally purchased with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds as part of the East Hickory Redevelopment Plan. The properties are located at 865, 870, 872, 880, and 889 F Avenue SE. These properties were originally purchased for future development and to stabilize the area through the reduction of blight. Staff has been approached by AMMCO, LLC with an offer to purchase these properties, and plans on developing these properties for residential use. A public hearing is required since the properties were purchased with CDBG funds. In accordance to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Regulations, the properties must be sold for market value. A recent appraisal listed the market value of these properties at $17,000. The offer from AMMCO, LLC is for market value. The properties must also be sold subject to the upset bid process. Staff recommends that City Council adopt a resolution accepting the offer from AMMCO, LLC and authorize Staff to advertise for upset bids. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on October 9, 2015 and October 16, 2015.
New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Consideration of a Memorandum of Understanding for the Construction of a Splash Pad at Kiwanis Park. - The City of Hickory, Hickory Kiwanis Club and the Kiwanis Club of Western Catawba County engaged in a joint effort to construct the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground at Kiwanis Park which opened May of 2012. Both Kiwanis clubs have agreed to partner with the City of Hickory to jointly fund the construction of a splash pad at Kiwanis Park that would be maintained by the City of Hickory as part of its operations. The Memorandum of Understanding details the terms and conditions under which the splash pad will be constructed. The Memorandum of Understanding has been sent to both the Hickory Kiwanis Club and the Kiwanis Club of Catawba County for their respective consideration and approval. The Parks and Recreation Commission considered and approved the Memorandum of Understanding at their August 11, 2015 meeting and recommends its approval by City Council. Staff recommends approval of the Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a splash pad at Kiwanis
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