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Avery County Commissioners Adopt Resolution for Sales Tax Referendum

By Tim Gardner

By a 4-0 vote, the Avery County Commissioners adopted a resolution to add a sales and use tax referendum to the ballot in November’s General Election during their regular monthly meeting July 2.

Commissioners– Martha Hicks (Chairperson); Blake Vance (Vice-Chairman); Wood Hall (Woody) Young, Jr.; and Faye Lacey were present at the meeting. Commissioner Tim Phillips was absent due to family illness. Other top county officials attending included: County Manager Phillip Barrier, Jr.; Assistant County Manager and Clerk to the Board Cindy Turbyfill; Finance Director Nancy Johnson; and County Attorney Michaelle Poore.

The Board of Commissioners will formally ask the Avery County Board of Elections to conduct an advisory referendum on the question of whether to levy local sales and use tax of one-fourth cent in Avery County in accordance with state statues.

If the county’s voters approve adding the sales tax on November 6, an extra 25 cents for every one hundred dollars ($100.00) spent would be created. Barrier said that could amount to as much as $690,000.00 annually. He added that the sales tax money would be placed in the county’s General Fund and could be spent on capital projects.

The resolution noted that the additional sales and use tax would be in addition to all other state and local sales and use taxes.

Following a Public Hearing during the meeting regarding the 2018 Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Revitalization Program to give citizens a chance to provide their input about its application process. Funds from this program help rehabilitate low-income households in Avery County.  

Avery County plans to apply to the NC Department of Commerce for CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization Program funding. There is $10 million budget for the program with a maximum award of $750,000.00. The funds would be used to assist low-income residents with home rehabilitation and possible home replacement. The County hopes to assist approximately six or seven homeowners with the funding if it is awarded.

Eligible applicants must own and occupy the home full-time and have a household income less than 80 percent of the County median (example: $33,500 for a two-person household). Eligible properties must be located in Avery County; however, homes located in the floodplain are ineligible.

A committee has been assembled to help with the planning process and selection of the recipients. Applications for the program will be accepted until July 31, 2018.    

The commissioners also held a Public Hearing at their meeting to receive public comment regarding the approval of expenditure of funds for advertising with Carolina Mountain Life Magazine in an amount not to exceed $2,600.00; and approval of expenditure of funds for general office expenses, travel to seminars/meetings not to exceed $2,400.00.

The Commissioners tabled discussion about this topic to another meeting.

Additionally, the commissioners tabled further discussion of the Avery County Fire Association’s request to change the makeup of the county’s fire commission to their September meeting.

 In other county business:

*Tax Collector Bruce Daniels told the commissioners that tax collections for the month of June as of June 27 were $35,569.13.

*The commissioners announced that the county’s Hazardous Waste Collection Day would be on August 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

*Were advised by Barrier that the county’s new Co-Operative Agricultural Service Center is on schedule to open at a date to be determined in August.

*During the monthly Celebrate County Government segment originated by Barrier, the commissioners honored Melinda Williams of the Emergency Management Services (EMS) and John Hicks (Baliff) and Shanda McCoury (Social Services) for their 17 years each of employment with the county and their contributions to it through their respective jobs. They were given appreciation notebook-plaques with a county seal pin by Hicks.

The commissioners also held a special meeting on July 9 to award the bid on the county’s new swimming pool project. The Garanco, Inc. General Contractor firm was awarded the construction contract for the pool. Its submitted bid is $2,752,300.00.

The Garanco, Inc. General Contractor firm is located in Pilot Mountain, NC.

Last year, Garanco also submitted the lowest bid of $1,399,900.00 on the county’s new co-operative agricultural extension service building, scheduled to open in August.

The commissioners will hold their next regular monthly meeting on August 6 at 3:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Board Room of the Avery County Administrative Complex at 175 Linville Street in Newland.