By ANGELA FARR KING
One of the most important topics addressed during the monthly Town Council meeting on December 7th was the dispersal of a portion of the funding provided by the Federal Government American Rescue Plan (ARP) fund, which totals $688,067.78 for the Town of Taylorsville. According to the council’s written plan, “The discretional first distribution of the ARP premium program will require $43,350.00 gross distribution of ARP proceeds to attempt to create $1,000 net bonuses for all essential employees,” such as police, public works, or others in customary public services. Town Manager David Odom explained that each of the 33 essential employees for the Town of Taylorsville, including full and part time workers, will receive a $1,275 bonus. With taxes being accounted for, each of these employees should net $1,000 for services rendered during the pandemic. The council voted unanimously to implement these bonuses.
During a public hearing portion of the meeting, a rezoning request of property located at 1341 NC 90 East (Patriot House Antiques) was considered and, after the public hearing, was unanimously passed. This had been zoned as a business property and will now be considered residential.
The completed town audit was presented at this meeting by Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs, P.A. The representative, Matt Braswell, commented that there were no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies noted in the information provided to them by the town. The report indicated a significant rise in the balance of the general fund from $1,253,568 in 2020 to $1,749,860 in 2021. Sales tax revenue has increased from $483,105 in 2020 to $560,269 in 2021.
The Water and Sewer Fund for the town is currently operating with a negative balance. The amount of operating expenses required is $2,816,505, but the revenue this past year was only $2,246,602 for a negative balance of $569,903. The council is formulating a plan to address this deficit. The reduced revenue is in part due to a large reduction in sewer use by the state’s Alexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville, about $218,000 less, as well as approximately $250,000 from Nov. 2020 flood damage.
Budget amendments passed during this meeting included:
- A receipt of insurance proceeds from damaged police vehicles in the amount of $8,332.83.
- A reversal of funds in the amount of $130,000 because these funds were not distributed.
- The purchase of a used 2007 leaf vacuum truck in the amount of $120,000 (The old one was not in working order. The council members said that leaves accumulating in town will soon be removed.)
- Police contracted services in the amount of $12,000.
- A transfer of funds from Capital Outlay to the Engineering Department in the amount of $12,000.
- A transfer of funds from Capital Outlay to Professional Services (Harris Computer Services for computer upgrades)
At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Holleman read a letter from Senator Dean Proctor stating that the town of Taylorsville will receive $1,205,130 in the state budget for water and sewer projects. In addition, the town will receive $250,000 for a local government grant.
In one final discussion, David Odom informed the council that Duke Power Company will be replacing existing bulbs in street lights with LED bulbs. These will be brighter but will cost more. Odom suggested that since the replacement of bulbs is not optional, the council should also explore the cost of decorative street posts for 33 light poles in town. The council agreed to visit neighboring towns to see their decorative posts in place.
During the report for the Alexander County Police Department, Chief Doug Bowman noted that there had been three sex crimes involving students from the high school and the Early College. These crimes were student-to-student and no adults were involved. He also said that their narcotics officer had recently assisted with two cases where drugs had been bought and cash was seized. He said that one transaction was $90,000 in cash and the other was $130,000. He thanked the Town Council for allowing the department to hire the narcotics officer because they are now reaping the benefits of that hire. Chief Bowman reported that they had received a Governor’s Crime Commission grant which will be used to purchase more Viper radios to add to the ones bought the previous year. In his final comments, he noted that the Christmas parade was well attended and there were no incidents. He said the department is still short-staffed because they cannot find qualified applicants.
In his Public Works report, Public Utilities Manager Aaron Wike noted that the dry weather has contributed to a rash of water leaks in town, specifically on Martin Luther King Drive, South Center Street, and the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue. Two of these leaks have already been fixed. Walmart has had two main water leaks and there was one at Alexander Central High School, which forced them into a day of virtual learning. He commented on his thankfulness for the new leaf vacuum truck and stated that leaf cleanup in the town is underway. He also noted that their department is in the process of changing out old street signs. He said that the state had sent notice that Alexander County is in either a B1 or B2 drought condition and should move to Stage 1 Conservation Status, meaning voluntary conservation by the citizens. The Town Council will await recommendations from the state as to how to move forward if conditions do not improve.
No comments were made in the public comment portion of the meeting. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at 5:30 p.m.