Town Council moves forward with Mill Village sewer project, street improvements
Interim Police Chief Darrin Payne (left) recognizes the accomplishments of officers Daniel Bova, Corey Richard, and Jamie Benge during Thursday's Troutman Town Council meeting.
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Town Council voted unanimously last week to approve funding on two infrastructure projects, the Mill Village sewer project and a street repair package.
Members also voted for a new distribution formula for ABC proceeds to direct more money to completion of the ESC Park development plan.
In a surprise move, the council also removed approval of a School Resource Officer at Iredell Charter Academy from its consent agenda, citing questions that emerged requiring clarification before moving forward.
Council member Paul Bryant noted that the council is “100 percent for security” but needed some questions answered. Mayor Teross Young appointed members Sally Williams and Judy Jablonski to a small committee to seek those answers and report back to council.
Young appointed council members Jan Huffman and Williams to a committee to establish guidelines for naming rights of town properties. An organization is seeking naming rights to a property, and Young wants to have a comprehensive look at the issue and be “clear and crisp on naming rights.”
The council voted unanimously to accept a $1,078,050 low-interest loan from the state Water Infrastructure Fund to pay for the long-awaited Mill Village sewer rehabilitation project, which will take about a year to complete once started.
For the street improvement project, Town Manager Justin Longino recommended accepting the First National Bank funding proposal for the street improvement project. This proposal offered the lowest interest rate and closing costs of financial institutions who submitted bids.
Longino noted that the Local Government Commission (LGC) must approve the town seeking the loan for the street project at its August meeting but described it as a “formality” since the town only carries a small amount of debt.
The LGC allows a municipality to borrow up to 8 percent of its total valuation. With a valuation of $519.5 million, the town can borrow up to $41.5 million. Its current debt, however, is less than 1 percent at only $3.4 million, with yearly payments budgeted at $468,515.
ABC DISTRIBUTION CHANGES
The council also approved allocation of 12.5 percent of ABC profits to the ESC Park Capital Reserve Fund, in addition to the 12.5 percent already allocated for the Troutman Parks and Recreation Department operations.
These new funds will help to complete construction of the next phases of the park build-out, which currently includes athletic fields, walking trails, additional sidewalks and parking areas, and an amphitheater.
PERSONNEL POLICY/PAY & CLASSIFICATION STUDY
Cheryl Brown from the MAPS Group presented a draft of an updated personnel policy and pay and classification study to council members, who will study the documents and give feedback before possible approval in August.
Brown said the council had done well to keep pace with the current employment market and recognize its employees’ efforts in comparison to towns of similar size and to others in the area.
Implementing the pay recommendations would require increasing the budget for staff salaries and benefits by $6,300 per year .
Brown did make several recommendations for improving employee benefits, including adding the state-mandated four hours per year of unpaid parental leave to attend their children’s school events and the implementation of a no-cost employee assistance program to provide counseling for employees and their families for a set number of sessions, normally from four to six.
Brown also said the town’s $10,000 life insurance benefit was low. She recommended raising that amount equal to the employee’s annual salary, with a cap of $100,000. This increased insurance benefit would have minimal cost to the town.
Brown noted she added a few updates to the town’s 55-page personnel policy but that little other revision was needed.
Brown is still completing updated job descriptions, which should be complete in the next two weeks.
The rezoning of Lee Geiger’s 2.49 acres near the intersection of Autumn Leaf and Perth Roads took over an hour of the council’s meeting, with extensive discussion and questions about changing this parcel’s zoning to conditional highway business.
Geiger has operated LMG Motorsports & Fabrication since 2004 in several outbuildings behind his residence. The business is grandfathered under previous zoning rules but is out of compliance with current regulations.
Geiger sought the rezoning to bring his property into conformance with current rules, nearby properties, and the Future Land Use Plan but still maintain his existing single-family residence on the property.
Council members closely questioned Town Planner George Berger about the permitted uses on this property, looking ahead to establishing the neighborhood center flavor favored in the town’s future land use plan for the area as well as protecting the quality of life for nearby residents.
During the discussion, council members suggested removing several conditional uses, including automotive and boat sales, retail uses from 15,000 to 30,000 square feet, and requiring any indoor entertainment use to adhere to additional standards, including noise rules.
They also wanted a future sidewalk right-of-way to be the same width as required for nearby subdivisions for the sake of continuity.
Geiger, who was present for the decision, agreed to these changes to move the rezoning forward. Three of Geiger’s neighbors and clients spoke in favor of the rezoning. Neighbor Danny Ervin asked council members to preserve the residential character of the area.
After a line-by-line review of the amended resolution by Berger, council members unanimously approved the rezoning request.
Interim Police Chief Darrin Payne recognized three officers for recent education and training accomplishments.
Detective Sgt. Corey Richard received a certificate for his completion of Advanced Law Enforcement Certification from the N.C. Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. This certification is the highest such honor awarded by the state.
Sgt. Jamie Benge and Patrol Officer Daniel Bova were also honored for earning their Associate’s Degrees in Criminal Justice.
CHIEF OF POLICE SEARCH
Longino updated the council on the search for a new police chief after the resignation of Chief Matthew Selves, who accepted a position with the the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM).
The town received 21 applications, which are currently being reviewed by an committee of law enforcement officers, staff, and community members. This group will narrow the group down and conduct panel interviews, followed by an interview of the committee’s top two or three candidates with Longino.
The identity of committee members will be kept confidential until their work is complete to maintain the integrity of the process.
J. HOYT HAYES MEMORIAL TROUTMAN LIBRARY UPDATE
Program Director Shellie Kennedy updated council members on several events coming up at the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library as the summer reading program winds down in July.
Officer Darrin Bumgarner and K-9 Officer Jackpot will show off their skills at a demonstration and a question and answer session on Thursday, July 18, at 11 a.m. Community members are invited to see Jackpot at work as he demonstrates his crime-fighting prowess.
The Kids’ Summer Reading Finale will feature “Space Trek” with Steve Somers. Space Trek combines magic, music, puppets, and storytelling in a unique and unforgettable way that will keep every child fully engaged from start to finish. A grant from the council helped fund this program.
On July 30, the library will be at the Farmer’s Market with its second “Market Munchkins” program on the summer. The program teaches kids about various aspects of farming, artisan crafts, and nutrition while having fun!
Kennedy also announced that Goodwill Workforce Development representatives will be at the library on Thursday, August 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. The team of experienced professionals can work one-on-one with individuals to identify their unique set of employment challenges and build a personalized, holistic career development path to success, including resumes and interview skills.
TROUTMAN PARKS AND RECREATION
Parks and Recreation Coordinator Emily Watson reminded council members and the community of the next Summer Bluegrass Jam on Monday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at the Troutman Depot.
The 2nd annual Pass on Grass 4 on 4 Outdoor Volleyball Tournament will be Saturday, July 27, beginning at 10 a.m. at ESC Park. Teams will be broken down into age groups of ages 12-14, 15-17, and 18 and up.
The cost to register is $40 per team. Register at https://racesonline.com/events/pass-on-grass. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
The next Party in the Park, sponsored by Piedmont Healthcare, is on Friday, August 16, at Troutman ESC Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Watson suggested bringing lawn chairs or blankets for seating to this fun night featuring live music by the 7 Days Band, food trucks, craft beer and wine, bounce houses for kids, and a great time for the whole family.
Watson also reminded folks to buy local produce and products at the Troutman Farmers Market every Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m.