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TOWN OF COLUMBIA BOARD MEETING
June 6, 2016
The Town of Columbia Board of Aldermen met in regular session at 7:PM, Monday, June 6, 2016, in the meeting room of the ColumbiaMunicipalBuilding. Aldermen attending were Lloyd Armstrong, James Cahoon, Ray Marner and Sandra Owens. Mayor F. Michael Griffin presided.
Mayor Griffin called the meeting to order, welcomed those attending and asked Alderman Armstrong to offer a prayer for the Board.
Upon motion of Alderman Owens, the vote was unanimous to approve the Consent Agenda. This included:
- Minutes of May 2, 2016 Board of Aldermen Meeting
- Downward water/sewer adjustments
Ottis Spruill$ 10.00
Ottis Spruill$ 9.89
Latechia Spencer$ 42.21
Mayor Griffin announced the Public Comment Period and invited the public to offer comments about the town. There were no comments and he closed the comment period.
Sheriff Darryl Liverman presented the May Law Enforcement Report. He reported 569 law enforcement calls. Complaints included 454 business checks and 35 security checks. There were 13 ambulance calls within the town and one fire call during the month. Fourteen traffic stops netted 13 traffic related citations. Sheriff Liverman said a Memorial Day weekend sweep with ALE and SBI participation resulted in a few low level arrests for drugs.
Alderman Owens asked if enforcement of the 10-minute parking limit at the two spaces in front of the US Post Office could be enforced. She recounted an ambulance being parked in front of the Post Office at noon on a Sunday while EMTs went to lunch and other times that cars are left unattended in the limited parking zone for longer periods than allowed. Sheriff Liverman said residents will have to live with the problem because parking is a problem throughout the town.
Mayor Griffin announced the scheduled Public Hearing on the 2016-2017 Columbia Town Budget and asked Town Attorney Dwight Wheless to conduct the hearing. Mr. Wheless explained the purpose of the hearing, noted that the budget had been properly advertised and was available for public review. He invited public comments. There were none and Mayor Griffin closed the session.
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A request was made by Carrie Lee Hofmann and Rev. Joseph S. Reeder to make changes to the Children’s Playground by adding a regulation size basketball goal, lights and security cameras. Ms Hofmann said she needs a place to practice basketball with her girls in order to build a basketball team. School facilities are not available at night, during summer months or after school. She said the existing rough asphalt court tears up athletic shoes. She said 200 signatures have been secured to support the request and that the Columbia Rotary Club will consider funding the installation of the goal and updating the playground with resurfacing, fencing and mulch.
Rev. Reeder appealed for a place for older teens and young adult youth to have for recreation.
Mayor Griffin pointed out that the playground was purposefully designed as a safe and secure place for younger children, thus the lower level basketball goal and playground equipment designed for children.
After more discussion, Alderman Cahoon suggested a committee be appointed to consider the request and to determine if there are other options. Aldermen Cahoon and Owens will work with Ms. Hofmann and others on the task.
Mr. Wheless reviewed the proposed agreement and discussed the risks that will allow Jack Bishop to use the town’s van in a tourism development effort. Alderman Armstrong asked about town insurance liability limits and Mr. White indicated that the town’s insurer indicated the town coverage was adequate for this venture.
Upon motion of Alderman Cahoon, the vote was unanimous to authorize the Agreement for use of Town Van upon signatures of Mayor Griffin and Mr. Bishop.
attachment # 1
Town Manager Rhett White provided a status update on the Building Renovation and Reuse Grant to Stiletto Manufacturing, Inc. He said all contract documents between the State, town, Stiletto Manufacturing and building owner GSM Properties have been signed and are in Raleigh. He expects to begin processing construction related invoices from Stiletto Manufacturing, Inc., within a week.
Mr. White reported that he sent a letter to the Tyrrell County Board of Education concerning the dilapidated old school bus garage on North Road Street Extended. He said the Superintendent, Dr. Hoffman, responded with an offer to sell the building and property to the town. After discussion he said Dr. Hoffman asked if the town would accept the property as a gift. Mayor Griffin stated that the objective should be to sell the property as soon as possible to get it back on the tax rolls.
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Discussion followed on the value of the property, cost to remove the building and clean up the site, liability and usefulness. The Town Manager was asked to investigate the costs associated with the property and report at the next meeting.
Mr. White asked the Board to authorize demolition and clean up of two houses on Railroad Street that the owner’s representative indicate they are not able to take care of. The properties are 614 Railroad Street – Dixie Marner Estate, and 921 Railroad Street – Earl E, Owens., Jr. Estate. Mr. White explained that the properties have been inspected and the derelict houses have been unoccupied for more than a decade and are heavily vandalized leaving them open to the public, are a nuisance to the neighborhood attracting vermin and are unsafe to neighborhood residents. are an eyesore negatively affecting neighboring property values, are not in a condition to be renovated, and will have more or equal value as a vacant lot than with the collapsing houses. He also reported that both owner representatives indicated they do not have the resources to demolish the houses and clean up the property.
Upon motion of Alderman Cahoon, the vote was unanimous to authorize contracting to have the structures demolished and removed, adding the cost to the town as tax liens against each property.
Mayor Griffin discussed his request to have the North Carolina State Legislature amend the Town of Columbia Charter to extend the term of office for future Mayors from two to four years. He indicated that he thought that would attract good candidates to run for the office, describing running for office every two years as an unpleasant and unnecessary experience.
He said the request to Rep. Bob Steinburg resulted in an on-going search for the 1976 version of the Columbia Charter. He said legislative staffers have found references to the 1976 changes but can not find the charter changes in the l976 Session Laws. A copy of a February 2, 1976 town ordinance headed “Legislative Action” addressed the changes that were made that year.
By consent the Board indicated a desire to move forward to make the term of office for Mayor four years. It was noted that the Legislative Staff had indicated a Resolution would not be necessary.
Mr. White presented the tax collection report through June 6, 2016. He reported that 92.93% of billings have been collected. This compares to collection rates at the same time of 91.30% in 2015 and 91.59% in 2014.
He shared information on tax exempt properties within the town that total $29,055,821 or the equivalent of $132,494.54 in tax revenue at the current rate.
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He reported that general fund expenditures are in line with 82% of expected revenue received and expenditures to date at 80%. In the water/sewer fund revenues are at 95% with expenditures at 64%. He said several major debt service payments will be made in June which will change the water/sewer fund overall picture. He also said that some adjusting budget amendments may be necessary at year end.
Mr. White reported on the status of the two CDBG projects. Both should be closed out by the end of June and a CDBG-IF amended budget was presented for review.
Upon motion of Alderman Cahoon, the vote was unanimous to approve the final
CDBG-IF Budget as presented by McDavid Associates, Inc.
Discussion on the 2017 Budget followed. Upon motion of Alderman Armstrong, the vote was unanimous ( 4 yes, 0 no) to adopt the 2017 Columbia Town Budget Resolution as presented, and to adopt the accompanying Business Registration Resolution, Vehicle Registration Fee Resolution and Resolution Appointing Ellen P. Bell as Tax Collector and Chief Accounting Official. The town tax rate will remain at 45.6 cents per $100 valuation and water/sewer rates will not increase.
attachments # 2, #3, #4, and #5
Mr. White reported that NC-DOT will prepare new bicycle and pedestrian maps of the town and county, that NC-DOT has proposed a plan for cleaning out the drainage canal from US-64/Scuppernong Drive to the Grindle Hill Canal, and that planning and grant-seeking continues on the North Boundary Canal.
He reviewed the work of Rivers & Associates and NC-DOT to address the flooding and deteriorating roadway at the Road Street crossing of the NorthBoundaryCanal. He said that funds are short and that the work is probably several months in the future.
Mr. White informed the Board that the new federal overtime rules may be delayed, according to reports from the NC League of Municipalities and UNC-School of Government. He said the rules as scheduled to take effect in December would pose a major burden on small towns and organizations.
The Manager announced that Kenneth Colson will join the town Water/Sewer Department as a new employee on June 13th.
Alderman Owens commented again about parking violations at the Post Office and asked when lines and the handicapped parking designation would be repainted at the Post Office. She commented about Magnolia leaves clogging up storm drains and asked if property owners should be required to keep such leaves off the streets and out of the gutters. She asked if there is an ordinance or code limiting the number of adults that can live in a single-wide mobile home, citing the mobile home on Green Street. She said that
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a weekend party at that location resulted in trash in neighboring yards and in the street as well as loud music and noise.
She also said that parking should not be allowed on either side of N. Road Street and asked if this could be the policy when NC-DOT resurfaces the street.
Alderman Armstrong asked about progress on fixing the Howard Street/Virginia Avenue intersection. He noted that a motor scooter wrecked due to the uneven surface.
He reported that the TVFD membership voted to not ask the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners for a fire tax district designation. He agreed that parking should not be allowed on North Road Street.
Mayor Griffin reminded the Board that the July meeting will be on first Tuesday due to the Independence Day Holiday falling on the first Monday.
Upon motion of Alderman Cahoon, the vote to adjourn was unanimous. Mayor Griffin adjourned the meeting.
This the 6th day of June, 2016.
F. Michael Griffin, Mayor
Rhett B. White, Clerk