Blowing Rock Council To Meet Tuesday To Discuss Larger Memorial Park Gazebo, County’s Sales Tax Distribution

Published Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm

By Jesse Wood

April 8, 2014. The Blowing Rock Town Council meets Tuesday, April 8, at 5:30 pm. Click here or scroll below to see the entire agenda with live links for more information.

Watauga County’s Sales Tax Distribution Method

Among the agenda items, the Blowing Rock Town Council will vote on a resolution urging the Watauga County Board of Commissioners to maintain the ad valorem sales tax distribution method – similar to what Beech Mountain has on the agenda for its meeting today and opposite of what Town of Boone passed in March. 

According to minutes from a March work session with town departments and the Blowing Rock Town Council, Blowing Rock Manager Scott Fogleman said that, from speaking with County Manager Deron Geouque, a change in the distribution method – from ad valorem – isn’t anticipated by the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. 

A $40,000, Larger Gazebo in Memorial Park? 

The Blowing Rock Town Council has been recommended by staff to begin working with the Watauga Community Band and Blowing Rock Rotary Club to discuss details about building a larger gazebo in Memorial Park to create a bigger space for musical performances and other community events. 

The Watauga Community Band has donated $10,000 and Blowing Rock Rotary has donated up to $30,000 for this proposed project. 

See entire agenda for other topics to be discussed below. 


PRIOR MEETING MINUTES FOR APPROVAL:

March 5, 2014 Special Departmental Work Session

March 6, 2014 Special Departmental Work Session

March 11, 2014 Regular Council Meeting

 SPECIAL RECOGNITIONS AND REPORTS

Highway 321 Valley Boulevard Construction Update
Speaker:  Kipp Turner, Maymead Construction

This brief presentation is planned during each regular Council meeting to provide the public with an update regarding the project activities accomplished in the prior month, those planned for the coming month, and an update regarding current expectations of the overall project timing and completion. 

CONSENT AGENDA

Speaker:  Scott Fogleman, Town Manager

This section of the agenda is for those items deemed non-controversial and necessary in conducting regular municipal operations.  A single vote may be taken for the approval of all consent agenda items. Any items pulled from the consent agenda will be moved to the beginning of the discussion section of the agenda. 

1.     High Country Council of Governments (HCCOG) Intergovernmental Retreat Facilitation Agreement

Speaker: Scott Fogleman, Town Manager

The High Country Council of Governments has hosted intergovernmental retreats since 2008. The next one, scheduled for Tuesday July 29th from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m., is planned to be facilitated by a representative from the University of North Carolina School of Government. The HCCOG has asked that a memorandum of understanding be approved by each board in Watauga County documenting the $400 cost share agreement, funds for which will be included in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.  Staff recommends approval of this resolution.     

2.     Joe Papa to Fill Vacant Seat on the Board of Adjustment

Speaker:  Scott Fogleman, Town Manager

Mark Klein has resigned from the Board of Adjustment effective May 1, 2014.  Joe Papa, who currently serves as an alternate member, has agreed to fill Mark’s unexpired term which expires in 2016. Following Joe’s appointment to the Board of Adjustment, there will still be two alternates available (Suzanne Wilson and Laurin Carter).  Staff recommends waiting to fill the 3rd alternate position until the 2015 appointment process as well as the approval of Joe Papa to fill Mark Klein’s term on the Board of Adjustment.

3.     Appropriating Restricted Asset Forfeiture Funds Already Received for Police Equipment

Speaker:  Scott Fogleman, Town Manager

The United States Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program allows the Department of Justice to share funds with local law enforcement agencies that directly participate in an investigation or prosecution that result in the forfeiture of funds.  Cumulative funds totaling $2,412.98 have been received over the past four years.  These funds are restricted for the use of law enforcement purposes only. Staff recommends recognizing these revenues and transferring them from fund balance within the general fund to the Police Department materials account for the purchase of three additional patrol rifles.

4.     Declaring Various Items as Surplus Property for Appropriate Disposition

Speaker:  Aaron Miller, Police Captain

Over time, various assets reach the end of their useful life.  The Police Department has recently identified a variety of items that have various methods of disposition including selling online to the highest bidder through GovDeals, trading firearms to a licensed firearms dealer, and salvage.  Staff recommends approval of the disposition of these assets and the three related resolutions.

5.     Quail Hollow Roadway Repair Funding Adjustment

Speaker:  Doug Chapman, Town Engineer

The Quail Hollow Road suffered damage as a result of the heavy rains in July of 2013.  That event has since been declared a natural disaster which made qualifying repairs eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) funding.  Council appropriated these funding sources for the Quail Hollow Roadway repairs totaling $70,000 ($52,500 or 75% FEMA funding + $17,500 or 25% NCDPS funding).    Council approved award of the project at its meeting in February, 2014, and work is nearing completion.  Several items have arisen during construction that require additional funding of $8,100 including the need for additional piping, stabilization matting on the disturbed slope areas, and additional paving replacement in the project area.  Staff anticipates these project expenditures will be reimbursable by FEMA and NCDPS and recommends appropriating additional expenditure and revenue ($6,075 or 75% FEMA + $2,025 or 25% NCDPS) authority totaling $8,100. 

PUBLIC HEARING 

1.     Blue Ridge Electric Substation – Amendment Extending the Completion Dates Due to Hwy 321 Delays

(CUP 2007-09 Blue Ridge Electric Substation – Amendment)

Speaker: Kevin Rothrock, Planning Director

This quasi-judicial public hearing requires that all those who wish to speak during the public hearing be sworn in by the Town Clerk prior to speaking. The purpose of this public hearing is to receive public input and comments regarding a request from Blue Ridge Electric to amend its Conditional Use Permit (CUP) 2007-09 by modifying the completion date of the proposed substation located off Little Springs Road. The original date for Phase II (substation construction) was 2010, and completion of Phase III (removal of Possum Hollow substation) was 2011.  Due to delays on the Hwy 321 project, Blue Ridge Electric is requesting a Phase II completion date of 2016, and a Phase III completion date of 2017.  The subject property is zoned GB, General Business, and is further described as Watauga County PIN 2817-29-0292-000. Staff recommends approval and following staff’s presentation and the public hearing, Council may take action.

DISCUSSION AGENDA 

1.     Blood Sweat and Gears Bike Race Date of Saturday September 26, 2015

Speaker: Jennifer Brown, Parks and Recreation Director

Blood Sweat and Gears (BSG) would like to hold a charity bicycle race that would begin and end in the Town of Blowing Rock on Saturday September 26, 2015.  The organization has requested Council approval of this date for the event so that the necessary planning can begin, approximately a year and a half prior to the event.  Representatives from the Town, the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority, and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce have met with representatives of BSG and look forward to the opportunity to make this an event that minimizes impacts to our residents and other visitors while providing a first class experience for those riding for charity.  Staff recommends approval of the date of Saturday September 26, 2015 for the event and for Town Staff to begin working with the TDA, Chamber, BSG, and various volunteers to begin planning the details.   

2.     Improving Outdoor Performance Space in Memorial Park Through a Larger Gazebo

Speaker:  Jennifer Brown, Parks and Recreation Director

Staff has received very generous offers of support from the Watauga Community Band ($10,000) and the Blowing Rock Rotary Club (up to $30,000) toward building a larger gazebo in Memorial Park to create a larger space for musical performances and community events of all kinds.  There are many details to be worked out including the exact size (presumably at least 30 feet in diameter) and appearance of the new gazebo.  The existing gazebo is approximately 14.5 feet in diameter, and as discussed thus far, would be replaced by the new, larger gazebo. Staff is recommending Council authorize staff to begin working with these two groups to discuss details such as what the project would look like, how much it would cost, and how programming would be determined.  Once these details have been determined, staff would return to Council for final approval.

2.     Town Hall Beautification Project Including Consideration of Replacing the Large Blue Spruce

Speaker:  Jennifer Brown, Parks and Recreation Director

Every year staff spends several days and approximately $1,700 working on decorating the large blue spruce in front of Town Hall.  It is an icon for the Town especially during the Holiday season; however each year it is becoming more difficult to maintain and to decorate due to its sheer size. The tree is generally in good health, however with its large size and the fact the tree has not been pruned or maintained the past 35 years it has become a safety concern and is not as beautiful as one would expect with the significant amount of interior limbs with no buds.  Arborists have evaluated the tree which is generally in good health, but needs additional funding of approximately $1,500 annually to begin to reinvigorate the tree. Staff prepared an alternative landscaping plan that includes replacing the existing blue spruce with one approximately 12 feet tall.  The Blowing Rock Appearance Advisory Commission has discussed options and has made unanimous recommendations to Council to retain the large blue spruce, have it professionally trimmed to reinvigorate new growth, have the soil tested and treated to improve the health of the tree, remove the mulch around the immediate base of the tree, remove the grass in the entire section where the tree is located and put in mulch, retain the stone border around the tree section, return to BRAAC with an updated landscape beautification plan with the large tree as a component, remove all string lights currently on the tree very soon, and to only decorate the tree at Christmas with flood lights that shine on the tree to help protect the tree.  Other alternatives to “lighting of the Town” were discussed, but no recommendations have yet been formalized.  In addition, BRAAC recommends educating the public throughout the year about the tree’s condition and what the alternatives may be and having another assessment of the tree done this time next year to check on the health of the tree.  Staff recommends Council approval of all of BRAAC’s recommendations. 

3.     Resolution Urging the Watauga County Commission to Maintain the Ad Valorem Sales Tax Distribution Approach for Fiscal Year 2015 Which Begins July 1, 2014

Speaker:  Scott Fogleman, Town Manager

Per state law, in April of each year the County Board of Commissioners may determine the distribution approach to be used in the upcoming fiscal year for sales tax proceeds. Watauga County’s distribution approach had been based on the ad valorem method until 1987 when it was changed to per capita until the current fiscal year.  It was changed for fiscal year 2014 and the Town of Blowing Rock expects to receive approximately $200,000 in additional sales tax revenue allocation this fiscal year as a result, an increase of 66% over the adopted budget level of $305,000 for this revenue source.  The fiscal needs of Blowing Rock are substantial, and the ad valorem distribution approach reallocates much needed funding which helps support the many services required by our visitors and seasonal residents that are not accounted for when considering the full time resident number of 1,176 that would have been used under the per capita sales tax distribution approach this fiscal year.  Accordingly, staff recommends Council approve a resolution urging the Watauga County Commission to maintain the ad valorem method of distribution of sales tax in Watauga County for fiscal year 2015 which begins July 1, 2014.

SPEAKERS FROM THE FLOOR

Prior to the meeting, anyone wishing to speak shall complete an index card supplied by the Town Clerk, on which they will provide their name, address, telephone number and the topic they wish to address. In deference to all who wish to speak, each speaker will be asked to limit his or her comments to no more than three (3) minutes.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

      Executive session will be called if necessary.

ADJOURNMENT 

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