More than 100 concerned citizens attended a community meeting Monday night at the American Legion in Blowing Rock for a question and answer session regarding the burying of downtown underground power and communication lines.
Blowing Rock town manager Shane Fox started the meeting with a brief overview of the project and how the project came about. “Fifty or sixty years ago this conversation came up,” Fox said. “And then, periodically, this topic would come up every few years,” he added. “There were some field trips taken by past [city] managers and past councils. More recently the town started getting into really heavy discussions after the town retreat which led the town to begin the bidding process. And tonight we are here to share some of the information that has accumulated during that time and allow for you all to ask questions and for us to answer questions.”
The question and answer period lasted for more than an hour with questions on both sides of the issue being asked. Many participants agreed with the project and thanked Fox and the council for the hard work that was put in on the project. Several participants questioned if the funds from this project would take money away from other priorities.
During the question period, resident John Aldridge asked, “To me, as someone trying to make this decision, it is a strong indicator that in the past our town has done a pretty darn good job meeting its responsibilities and still keeping our tax rate among the lowest in Western North Carolina. Do you know of anything or any reason that would prevent our town government from continuing to meet its responsibilities and at the same time continuing to keep our taxes among the lowest in Western North Carolina?”
Fox responded, “My job is to present a budget to the town council, which we’re going to do here in the next 10 days. And while that budget does not necessarily include projects, it includes the operational needs of the supplies and the materials that are needed to operate the town and the labor force. My primary focus is always to make sure our budget provides the needs to be able to operate the town as efficiently as possible. North Carolina does a fantastic job of keeping their towns and counties in great financial stability and this town is one of the best in Western North Carolina. So our town’s [Blowing Rock] tax rate is 37 cents. Boone is at 36. Other towns around us are in the upper thirties or the forties or the fifties. I couldn’t imagine there ever being a situation in which you’re standing here and presenting a project that would have such a detriment to the financial stability of a town.”
The Blowing Rock Town Council will vote on whether or not to fund the project at its regular meeting on May 9, at 6 p.m.
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