Kenny Manuel – Mayor
David Cooper – Commissioner
Brian Christison - Commissioner
Barbara Outland – Commissioner
Pat Liverman – Commissioner
Donielle McDermott – Town Clerk
Marshall Lassiter – ORC
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited followed by a moment of silent reflection.
Call to Order: The mayor called the meeting to order at 7pm.
Approval of Agenda: The first item of business was the approval or amendment of the agenda. Commissioner Liverman made a motion to approve the agenda as written. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
Approval of Minutes: The second item of business was the approval or amendment of the minutes from the Public Hearing on the Armory dated November 29, 2018 and the Regular Board Minutes dated December 6, 2018. Commissioner Christison made a motion to approve the minutes as written. Commissioner Liverman seconded and the motion carried.
Consideration of Bills: The commissioners had a chance before the meeting began to review the bills. Commissioner Cooper excused himself from the meeting due to the fact that Bryant and Lassiter had a bill to be paid. Commissioner Cooper explained his bill was for the work his men did on the sewer backup at Chris Corey's house the day after Christmas. Commissioner Christison made a motion that all bills be paid along with any other regular bills that come in after this date. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried. Commissioner Cooper brought himself back into the meeting.
Public Comments: Patty Deneen commented on a post she read on the town's Facebook page concerning the property at the old town hall and old casket factory. She read that a citizen complained about needles, condoms, etc. lying around. She asked who is responsible for cleaning this up. Commissioner Outland said we own part and the fire department owns part. Mayor Manuel told her the maintenance crew will go and clean it up.
Mrs. Deneen then commented on numerous posts on Facebook noting dogs running loose. Without Chief Ruppe here anymore, who can we call? Mayor Manuel suggested the Sheriff's Department, but then Commissioner Cooper said the Health Department has a department for animals.
Sydney Joyner asked if the Sheriff's Department is now providing coverage for us, and in response Mayor Manuel said yes, along with our part time officer. Sydney asked why do we need a part time officer and the help of the Sheriff's Department. Mayor Manuel explained that our part time officer cannot be here all of the time, therefore we entered into a contract with the Sheriff's Department to cover us temporarily.
Patty Deneen asked if we are going to get another chief, and in response Mayor Manuel said yes, eventually.
Fire Department Report: Donielle McDermott reported the balance in the fire department's checking account to be $34,089.07. She explained that the annual payment of $10,652.60 for truck #192 was made on 12/28/18 to Home Trust Bank, so this amount should be deducted from the balance since the check has yet to clear. The fire department has one more payment on this truck and Mickel Pruden has requested this amount to go to their capital improvement fund thereafter.
Maintenance Report: Marshall Lassiter stated there was a discrepancy in the number of water meters ordered versus what we actually need. We should have ordered 295 but actually ordered 265. The discrepancy was likely due to the initial count being done on active meters only, not taking into account empty houses that may be occupied in the future. We need an additional twelve 5/8 meters and five 1 inch meters. They all could be 5/8 meters, but the cost to switch the 1 inch meters over to 5/8 would be expensive, therefore Mr. Lassiter says we should leave the 1 inch meters as 1 inch meters. He was not sure why five one inch meters were originally put in, stating that there must have been some sort of regulation in that area at the time when they were originally installed. He said we need a minimum of 17 more meters, fifteen 5/8 meters and five 1 inch meters. He commended the maintenance crew, especially Tommy Pierce, on picking up on the new equipment so quickly.
Commissioner Christison asked if we are going to keep the 2in. meter. Mr. Lassiter said yes, but he will put it where it needs to go. He will talk with Bryan Ferguson about this particular meter.
Donielle McDermott explained a report in the packets that the maintenance crew had done concerning meters. The crew physically went to each meter and wrote down the addresses to the ones that still needed new meters, and they wrote down the addresses to the houses where meters were put in where they should not have been put in.
Donielle McDermott then explained how the recent water bills that went out did not show the total amount of consumption. They only showed the consumption on the old meters, but the actual amounts charged were correct. Southern Software told her their software was unable to put the total consumption of the old and new meters on the bill even though it was able to figure the cost correctly.
Marshall Lassiter read the maintenance report done by Jessica Griffey. This report will be included in the Minute Book.
Commissioner Cooper asked Mr. Lassiter if the places with one inch meters were possibly places that have slogan valves. Mr. Lassiter could not answer as he has not seen where they were.
Commissioner Christison asked Mr. Lassiter if he was satisfied in which Mr. Lassiter replied yes. He said there was one incident where someone's water was forgotten to be turned back on, but the resident was very understandable and nice.
Commissioner Christison made a motion to purchase the amount needed to finish the project with three to four extra meters. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried.
Commissioner Liverman said she spoke with Perry Collier about the path to the landfill. He told her there is an alternate spot to enter the landfill, but that is in pretty bad shape also. Mrs. Liverman suggested putting sand down by Betty Hobbs in an effort to keep this entry to the landfill from getting in as bad as shape as the main entrance. Commissioner Cooper asked if we have an easement to go through her yard? The other commissioners were unsure. Commissioner Christison asked if it was possible to use any part of the spray field as a dump site. Commissioner Cooper said that Robbie Collier was on the board when the town purchased the property. For that reason, Commissioner Cooper believes that if we could do that then Robbie Collier would have used the spray field at that time rather than purchase the land for the current landfill.
Commissioner Liverman asked how to find out if we have an easement. Commissioner Cooper suggested going to Luther Culpepper for help. He said you need to look at the tax map to see whose property it is and then reach out to the landowner. Mayor Manuel asked Commissioner Liverman to look into it for the town. Commissioner Cooper said if we don't have an easement to the property, then we don't need to spend the money on it.
Commissioner Liverman said she also asked Perry Collier about the Nationwide building and he said the electricity was still on and it was transferred into our name.
Mayor Manuel read recent complaints from Jeannie Barnes. One was about the dumping of the debris at the Duck Thru and the other was in reference to abandoned buildings. Perry Lee spoke with Mrs. Barnes and explained to her the purpose of using that area as a temporary dumping site. Mayor Manuel suggested we reach out to our customers and ask them not to put anything else out for pickup until we can remedy the situation.
Commissioner Liverman asked what our next step would be with the old Remmes' house at 209 E. Main St. Mayor Manuel said we cannot do anything, it is the county's responsibility because of the back taxes owed.
Mayor Manuel said he has spoken with Commissioners Cooper and Christison about the out of town rates. Commissioner Christison told the public who was present that the town is in fact looking into the rates and seeing what can be done. They need to have a workshop to run the numbers. He said he felt sure the town could work something out. Mayor Manuel said that everyone will be together again on 1/9/19 for the preconstruction meeting so they would decide then on a date for the workshop. Commissioner Cooper asked if they could just have the workshop the same day. It was decided to hold the workshop at 9:00 am before the preconstruction meeting.
Police Report: Mayor Manuel shared the contract with the Sheriff's Department with the board. Our contract states we will pay these officers $20 an hour and they will be working about three nights a week. The town will be paying them for their time here. There are a number of towns entering into this contract because they too do not have officers. Commissioner Cooper said he knows the deputies have been doing door checks while on duty and was happy about that. Commissioner Outland said one of the deputies recently did a drug bust and she feels they are doing a great job.
Donielle McDermott asked Commissioner Outland if she has received the phone from Chief Ruppe. She said she has not, but she will get it. Commissioner Cooper suggested giving the phone to Tommy Pierce, but have the phone number changed.
Mayor Manuel made a suggestion of putting a deadbolt on the Chief's door. Commissioner Cooper asked if the door was solid wood or not. The door needs to be solid to put a deadbolt lock on.
Clerk Report: Donielle McDermott gave the financial report for the town and this report will be included in the Minute Book.
Mrs. McDermott said that the town was unable to get the higher interest rates on our cds because there are restrictions on public funds.
Margaret Burgwyn made a $100.00 donation to the recreation fund in memory of Blake McGee. Mrs. McDermott wrote a letter to the McGee's making them aware of this generous donation.
Mrs. McDermott shared the contracts with Southern Software with the board. These contracts need to be approved and sent back to Southern Software. The contract for the Police Department is $2,767 and the one for the clerk is $3,955. These contracts are for the software and support. Mayor Manuel said that even though John Ruppe is gone, we still need the software for the computer in the office and in the vehicle. Commissioner Cooper took this time to say that even though we don't have a police chief, we have a camera system and this system can help during this time. He suggested maybe putting up signs stating cameras are up in hopes that this will deter people from committing crimes. Commissioner Cooper made a motion to approve the contracts with Southern Software and to amend our budget for this year, if needed. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
Mayor Manuel showed the board the letter from our CPA, Larry Carpenter asking to extend the due date of our audit from 10/31/18 to 2/28/19 due to affects of Hurricane Florence.
Mayor Manuel spoke to Kay Wyman with W2D2 (our camera system) and she reminded him that we are coming up to the end of our software license agreement. Every year we need to update this, and the cost is about $300. This cost includes technical support. Mrs. Wyman will be changing authorization so now the mayor and possibly one more can have access to the cameras.
Zoning Report: There is nothing to report except that they almost have a full board. They have yet to meet.
Rivers & Associates: Mayor Manuel shared with the board the paperwork showing we received from the state two different amounts for our closing costs with the Well Replacement Project. The first invoice was for $2,428 and the next showed $2,356 making that a difference of $72. Mayor Manuel contacted Blaine Humphrey who in turn contacted Mark Hubbard to see what to do about the difference. It was determined that it is in our best interest to allow the state to keep the $72 so as not to hinder us from receiving more funds in the future.
A preconstruction meeting is coming up on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 10:00 am. The current plan is to be finished with the well no later than July 13, 2019.
Mayor Manuel told the board that Donielle McDermott needs an administrative day to reorganize folders and files, especially in regards to Rivers and Associates. We need to have all of the paperwork properly filed in case of an audit.
Armory: Donielle McDermott informed the board that the electricity is on, but the water is still off. We are waiting for the gas to be turned on before we turn on the water, and Ferrell Gas is planning on coming on Tuesday, January 8, to check the lines. They came out previously, but there was a leak so a manager will be returning to see what has to be done. To fix it, the cost would be $89 per hour and $4 per foot of line. Commissioner Outland asked how much the cost of gas would be per gallon when the tanks needed to be filled again. Mrs. McDermott did not know that answer.
Mayor Manuel said a man by the name of Danny Harrell, a deputy inspector, came by Town Hall. He inspects boilers and has been inspecting the one at the Armory every two years. He charges $50 to inspect it and he can tell us what the problem is with the boiler.
Commissioner Christison reminded the board that Mr. Gosney didn't want heat running through the duct work so when the gas gets turned on and we turn the water back on, make sure no heat goes through the duct work.
Sydney Joyner would like the mayor to open up the Town Hall on Thursday night in order for the Armory committee to meet. Commissioner Christison suggested having a town board member be a part of the Armory committee to keep the board involved. Mayor Manuel will be that board member.
CADA: Mayor Manuel and Commissioner Cooper reported that they went over to the CADA building to decide what needed to be done. White and Woodley had already fixed one toilet at that time and will be replacing the rest. The money is in the budget. Commissioner Liverman asked if we will be splitting the cost with CADA, but Mayor Manuel said no, this is our building, we need to fix it. Mayor Manuel said that hopefully their water bill will drop since they will be using less water with the new toilets.
Mayor Manuel asked if we could go ahead and approve the new hot water heater. Commissioner Cooper made a motion to purchase the hot water heater from White and Woodley. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried.
Comments from the Mayor: Mayor Manuel briefly went over his Mayor's Report which will be included in the Minute Book. He also thanked the board members, the employees, and the public who comes to the meetings.
Comments from the Commissioners: Commissioner Cooper asked how are we moving along with the old bank building. Mayor Manuel replied possibly the end of March they will open. The plan is still there and they are still moving forward.
Commissioner Liverman said the town needs to find out what we need to do next with the abandoned buildings. Mayor Manuel said the board will be scheduling the workshop for the commercial buildings as well as the smoking ordinance soon in this new year.
Commissioner Outland wished everyone a happy New Year.
Commissioner Christison also wished everyone a happy New Year. He told the public how hard Mayor Manuel works for our town. He also stated that he was very glad to have Commissioner Cooper back.
Commissioner Cooper asked about the sidewalk project. Commissioner Liverman said that the state has been so slow. It has been three years in the works. The last time Commissioner Liverman spoke with someone from the state, they said it would be this spring.
Commissioner Cooper said that Fineline was responsible for the Christmas decorations we have. He said it would be good if we could find a deal like Fineline found and get some new ones. He told Clerk McDermott to be on the lookout for some.
Mayor Manuel shared a report with the board from the State Bureau of Investigation that needs to be filled out. They decided to fill it out during the closed session.
Public Comments: Patty Deneen asked if we had any updated information on the grocery store. Commissioner Outland said the new owner comes and goes every now and then doing some cleaning.
Sydney Joyner asked if we are presently advertising for a police chief. Mayor Manuel said they will be discussing this tonight during their closed session. Sydney Joyner suggested to the board that we only use the sheriff's deputies because the cost will be less. He also suggested the town not enter into a contract that we cannot get out of easily. Mayor Manuel assured Mr. Joyner that the contract we have with the sheriff's department is an easy one to end. One last comment from Mr. Joyner was that the street lights are very poor all around and his road especially is very dark.
Closed Session Motion: Commissioner Liverman made a motion to go into closed session pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11(a)(6) to discuss personnel. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
Motion to Leave Closed Session: At 10:01, Commissioner Liverman made a motion to leave Closed Session. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Motion to Enter Open Session: Commissioner Christison made a motion to enter Open Session. Commissioner Liverman seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Water Rate Schedule for Customers Residing Outside of Town Limits: Commissioner Christison said he and Commissioner Cooper had discussed reducing the water rates for customers residing outside of town limits and he handed out a chart with recommended water rates for outside customers based on consumption.
After Commissioner Christison reviewed and explained the chart to the Board Members, it was agreed that the new drinking water rate for customers outside of town limits should be set at a base rate of $26.00. Which the same as the current rate. However, we currently charge those customers $7.00 for every 1,000 gallons of water consumption. Commissioner Christison recommends that we reduce that fee to $5.00 for every 1,000 gallons of water consumption. This figure is higher than the rate for Northampton County residents (they are charged $4.75 per 1,000 gallons), but $2.00 lower than the current rate for our customers. With the new rate, out of town customers will save $2.00 on every 1,000 gallons of water that they use, in comparison to the current rate. The minimum bill for 1,000 gallons of usage will be $36.00
Motion to Change Water Rates for Out of Town Customers: Commissioner Cooper made a motion that the water rates for customers outside of town limits be reduced, according to the Water Rate Schedule submitted by Commissioner Christison. The base rate will remain at $26.00, but the price per 1,000 gallons will be reduced from $7.00 to $5.00 and the minimum bill will be $36.00 for 1,000 gallons of usage. This change will be contingent upon whether or not our software will be able to accept the changes. Commissioner Outland seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Motion to Adjourn: Commissioner Christison made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:19 pm. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried unanimously.