February 2, 2017
In 2016, the Board of Commissioners scheduled six work sessions, between the months of February and July. The work sessions provided an opportunity for us to focus on some very important issues and resolve some problems that needed to be addressed. In the latter part of 2016, I had suggested on more than one occasion, that the Board of Commissioners should consider scheduling more work sessions in the future, to help us focus on some other issues which will require more attention, than what will be allowed during a regular Board Meeting.
Recommendation for Work Sessions
I am recommending that we schedule six Work Sessions during the course of this calendar year. Perhaps one work session every other month, to be scheduled on a day and time that is convenient for all of our Town Council Members. This way, we can place the schedule in the newspaper ahead of time and everyone will know of our intentions far in advance. We can decide which issues will be reserved for each meeting at a later time, based on need and priority.
By-Laws: We have already began work on the By-Laws. My thanks to Commissioners Lane and Liverman for their work in preparing their respective packages of by-laws to the Town Council Members. We agreed that we would establish a By-Laws Committee, comprised of two members of the Town Board and at least one member from the community. Several months ago, during one of the regularly scheduled Town Board Meetings, Ms. Catina Jackson volunteered to serve on the By-Laws Committee.
Strategic Plan For Economic & Community Development: We need to start working on a plan to help develop our community, by partnering with organizations like Woodland Community Outreach, Inc., the Men's Club, the Fire Department, the Police Department and other organizations that are concerned about the welfare and public safety of our citizens. Additionally, we also need to start putting together a plan of attack for addressing our need for more commercial businesses to set up shop in the Town of Woodland. The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments and the Northampton County Board of Economic Development will be two great resources to assist us in this endeavor.
I have contacted Mr. Ron Townley, Planning and Development Services Program Director for Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments (UCP). Mr. Townley stated that he would welcome the opportunity to meet with us and provided me with several dates that he is available in February. The dates are: 2/14/17, 2/15/17, 2/21/17, 2/22/17, 2/23/17, and 2/28/17. Due to the distance Mr. Townley must travel, I would respectfully recommend that this meeting be scheduled for either the morning, or afternoon, if at all possible.
Mr. Townley will also be able to discuss the Brownfields Program, offered by UCP. During the Town Board Meeting on April 7, 2016, I informed the Town Board that at some future point in time, the U.S. Army will most likely make arrangements to present the National Guard Armory to the Town of Woodland, if the town would consider assuming responsibility for the building. Prior to assuming responsibility for the building, the Town Board will need to have an Environmental Site Assessment completed, since the building is considered to be a “Brownfield.”
A Brownfield (as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency), is a real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminate.
The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments has a Brownfields Program, which provides professional and economic assistance to owners and potential purchasers/developers of Brownfields properties, with the goal of putting these sites into beneficial use. The cost for joining the program is a one-time fee of $1,000. The benefit is that the UPC helps to obtain the funding for the environmental assessment, which will cost thousands of dollars. It is a definite investment that we seriously need to consider, for the future of Woodland. I have provided each of you with a copy of the pamphlet.
It is respectfully recommend that the Town Board consider this fee, during the preparation of the new budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Emergency Management Plan: As a Town Board, on several occasions in 2016, we briefly discussed the need for creating an Emergency Management Plan, in case of an emergency. Whether the emergency is due to severe weather, or due to a vehicular accident involving one of the large chemical trucks which travel through the middle of our town, we need to establish a written, plan of action.
Personnel Policy: There are sections of the Personnel Policy which need to be reviewed and tweaked. Specifically, Article II, “Positions of Classification Plan” (pages 6-7) and Article III, “The Pay Plan” (page 8). As of this date, we do not have a Position Classification Plan, nor do we have a Pay Plan. These two plans will be beneficial to the Town Board in the future, when hiring new employees and in the consideration of pay raises and starting salary rates.
According to Article II, The Position Classification Plan provides a complete inventory of all authorized and permanent positions in the Town Service and provides “an accurate description and specification for each class of employment.” Pursuant to Section 3(b), “The Classification Plan is to be used in determining lines of promotion and in developing employee training programs.” The Position Classification Plan is also to be used “in determining salary to be paid for various types of work,” as stated in Section 3(c).
According to Article III, “The Pay Plan includes the basic salary schedule and the 'Assignment of Classes and Grades and Ranges' adopted by the Board of Commissioners. The salary schedule consists of steps for minimum or beginning, maximum, and intervening rates of pay for all classes of positions, and a designation of the standard hours in the work week for each position.”
Article III, Section 2, states that from time to time, the Town Clerk shall “make comparative studies of all factors affecting the level of salary ranges, including the consumer price index, anticipated changes in surrounding state municipal employer plans, and other relevant factors, and will recommend to the Board of Commissioners such changes in salary ranges as appear to be pertinent. Such changes shall be made in the salary ranges, such that the hiring rate, all intervening rates and the maximum change according to the market.”
Preparation of the New Budget: As we draw nearer to the end of this fiscal year, we will probably need to schedule at least one Work Session to work on the budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. The first of these will probably need to be scheduled between mid April and early May.
Written Policy for Financial Bookkeeping: As of this date, we do not have a written policy for our day-to-day operations, or our financial bookkeeping. It is imperative that we develop a written policy, because at some future time, the Town Board will have to hire a new Town Clerk. It would be beneficial to the Town Board and to the new candidate, to have a written plan in place.
Update On Water Supply Well
We are moving forward with the water supply well project. As you know, A.C. Schultes of Carolina, Inc. has won the bid for the Test Well Drill Project, with a bid of $130,242.27. A Pre-Construction Conference has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, 2017, at 2:00 pm, at Town Hall. Participants will include representatives from A.C. Schultes, Mr. Blaine Humphrey and staff members from Rivers and Associates, David Giachini from the Department of Water Infrastructure and possibly Boris Chertock from the NC. State Department of Environmental Quality. All Town Board Members are invited and encouraged to attend, if available.
Update on Sewer System Project
According to Mr. Mark Garner, of Rivers Associates, the State Water Infrastructure Authority (SWIA) approved Woodland's grant application for the Asset Inventory Assessment Project for the sewer system. Letters of Intent to Fund (LOIF) are anticipated to be issued in early February. I have asked Mr. Garner to proceed with the issuance of Request for Qualifications (RFQ) documents, which will be sent to engineering firms that may be interested in applying for the work project. Rivers has a template that they can easily transform into the necessary RFQ for the Town's use.
Things To Consider
Capital Improvement Plan: As presented by Robbie Collier in 2016, we need to develop a Capital Improvement Plan that will address the many areas of our Public Works Department, including our water supply, sewer system, streets, sidewalks and facilities (Town Hall, Town Shop, Old Town Hall and Head Start Building). We need to start thinking about developing a maintenance plan for our resources and not just reacting and intervening at the time of an emergency.
Roanoke-Chowan Community College Classes in Woodland: On January 25, 2017, I met with Dr. Jimmy Tate, the recently appointed President of Roanoke-Chowan Community College. Dr. Tate informed me that the college is currently offering college courses at the Woodland Olney Apartments on Mondays and Tuesdays, for any interested students. He and his staff also informed me that they are also offering classes at the building which was formerly known as the Northampton County High School East, in Lasker. Dr. Tate stated that the school is trying to bring the college experience to the citizens of Northampton County, as he understands that transportation is a serious problem in this community. He is asking for assistance in getting the word out regarding their efforts and classes.
Woodland Volunteer Fire Department: Following our meeting with the WVFD in January, I have been in contact with members of the Fundraising and Grants Committee of Woodland Community Outreach, Inc. and Ms. Olga Abrams, The Business Development Center Manager of the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments. I am seeking assistance, on behalf of the Fire Department, to identify available grants to help offset the costs of some much needed, but very expensive equipment and repair work.
Heat Thermal Imaging Camera - used to assist with identifying hot spots in a building prior to entering. The cost is between $10,000 and $14,000.
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) - the equipment (including the air tank and regulator) which allows firefighters to breathe in smoke filled buildings. Cost: Between $6,000 and $8,000.
Air Compressor – required to fill the air tanks, once they are depleted of air. Cost: over $42,000.
Upgrade the garage where the fire trucks are stored. The building is in need of major repairs.