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April 17, 2024

Town releases statement on State Auditor investigation

The Taylorsville Town Council released a statement on Tuesday, August 8, at their meeting, regarding the state audit the Town is undergoing, as follows:

“In January of this year, the office of the North Carolina State Auditor commenced an investigation into Town finances and/or its policies. The Town Staff has cooperated with the Auditor’s office by providing access to Town records. The Town has recently been contacted by staff at the State Auditor’s Office and has been informed the investigation will continue for probably another two months. At the conclusion of the investigation, a reporting phase will commence and a draft report will be provided to the Town by the State Auditor. The Town will have an opportunity to respond to the draft report. A final report by the State Auditor will be subsequently issued.

“At this time, to make a statement as to the particular department or departments the Auditor is investigating would be unfair to the Town and to parties that might unnecessarily be implicated by the mere conduct of the investigation,” the statement read.

In other Town news:

• Mayor Pro Tem Kenny Poole was absent due to illness.

• During the Public Comment period, Taylorsville Apple Festival Director Gina Kay Honosky asked the Council for permission to use Main Avenue as well as Main Avenue Drive during the downtown festival. She said the festival must also seek NC Dept. of Transportation approval for the road closure, if the Town agrees to its use. She said overcrowding will remain an issue during the Apple Festival unless the festival is allowed to use Main Avenue to have more space for festivalgoers to spread out and walk safely.

If approved by the Town and NCDOT, NC 90 (Main Avenue) would be closed during the festival from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from the Linney’s Mountain Rd. intersection on the east side to AutoZone on the west side of the courthouse.

After some questions and discussion, the consensus was to wait until Councilman Poole was able to consider the issue and downtown business owners could have input. Mayor Holleman or Town staff will notify Honosky of a decision within the week.

• Police Chief Douglas Bowman, who began his career in August 1993 with the department, announced his plans to retire at the end of this month. The Mayor thanked him for his loyal service to the Town. The Council unanimously agreed to surplus his Glock 9mm service pistol and present it to him as a retirement gift. Bowman said, to his knowledge, he is the longest serving full-time officer in the force’s history.

• Chief Bowman also introduced new School Resource Office Jennifer Patrick, who will report to the Student Success Center next to Alexander Central High School for her duty post. She is from Lenoir and brings 10 years law enforcement experience to the Taylorsville force.

• The Council unanimously approved a rezoning petition by James Belcher, Jr., for property at 80 Sunset Drive to become zone R-2 Residential. It is currently zoned H-C (Highway-Commercial). Earlier, the 2/3 acre, triangular shaped tract was unanimously recommended to be rezoned R-2 by the Planning Board, said Town and County Planner Brian Burgess. It lies in the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the town.

• The Town Council unanimously approved the sale of the Town-owned properties at 36 and 46 N. Center Street to high bidder Dane Murray-Lerm and Meredith Schrum Lerm for $38,500.

• Interim Town Manager Aaron Wike presented AIA grant information to the council, who unanimously approved the $90,000 in funds for the Town water system, which does not require a local match.

• Council members unanimously voted to approve a $13,000 contract, already in the 2023-24 budget, for transportation service with Greenway (Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority) for 2023-24.

• Wike presented a request by Eddie Nissley for a wastewater connection outside Town limits, for On Time Metal. The request seeks permission for a sewer connection at 31 Wayfound Church Road, although he is exploring other options and hopes to avoid the cost of the sewer connection to the Town’s force main, which runs along that area.

• The Town Council unanimously agreed to buy a replacement street sweeper truck to replace the old unit which was lost to a fire. About $57,000 from the insurance payment and up to $20,000 from fund balance (to be reimbursed with Powell Bill funds) will be used to purchase a used 2010 truck for $74,950. New trucks cost about $225,000.

• Council members also unanimously approved the purchase of a Vactor sewer jet/vac truck from Joe Johnson Equipment of Monroe, NC, for $320,000 with Town Wastewater funds. The truck will allow Town workers to powerfully clean sewer pipes with vacuum and water jet — a service the Town has had to outsource to contractors at $50,000 to $60,000 yearly.

• Town Council members unanimously approved the changes to personnel policy, including contracting with a group to write job descriptions, adjust time accrual for call backs after hours (to three hours maximum, unless worker’s physical presence is required), and vacation time changes.

• The Town Council heard a proposal to enter into a $4,500 contract for employment hiring assistance with Western Piedmont Council of Governments on hiring a new police chief. This was tabled as two councilmen did not receive the contract for review by Tuesday.

• Chief Bowman noted the police department took part in the Speed Wrecks Lives campaign of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program recently. This resulted in 39 charges (36 citations and three warnings) for local motorists, including some arrests. The department’s school resource officers attended a conference in July in Charlotte. Two town police officers are training this week on the use of radar speed detection to become certified.

• Wike noted that Town funds approved last year will be used, pending agreement from Duke Energy, to install photoelectric switch boxes to operate Town Christmas lights this fall. This will be done only on poles owned by Duke; in some areas, these poles only run along one side of the street downtown due to other utility companies owning the other poles.

• Town Attorney Monroe Pannell indicated the issue with debris by a property owner on Saunders Lane had been resolved to the satisfaction of the County Code Enforcement Officer.

• The next Town Council meeting is set for Sept. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

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