Town of Woodland Board Minutes
Date: June 6, 2019
David Cooper – Mayor Pro Tempore
Brian Christison - Commissioner
Barbara Outland – Commissioner
Pat Liverman – Commissioner
Donielle McDermott – Town Clerk
Marshall Lassiter – ORC
Mayor Manuel was absent.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited followed by a moment of silent reflection.
Call to Order: The mayor pro tem called the meeting to order at 7pm.
Approval of Agenda: The first item of business was the approval of the agenda. Commissioner Liverman made a motion to accept the agenda as written. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
Approval of Minutes: The next item of business was the approval or amendment of the minutes from the Regular Board Meeting dated May 2, 2019. Commissioner Liverman made a motion to accept the minutes as written. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried.
Consideration of Bills: The commissioners had some time at the beginning of the meeting to review the bills. Commissioner Outland made a motion that all bills be paid along with any other regular bills that come in after this date. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
USDA Technical Assistance Grant: Andrew DeIonno asked if it pleases the board, to allow Monica Thornton to go before him since she was also there to give information on USDA loans.
USDA Information: Monica Thornton is an area specialist with rural development for the United States Department of Agriculture. Mrs. Thornton asked the board what the fire department is looking for in a building. Robbie Collier and Mickel Pruden were present on behalf of the fire department. Robbie Collier gave Mrs. Thornton the details stating they would like the new building to be 110 ft long by 80 ft wide with four bays at 20 ft each. Mrs. Thornton asked more questions about the desired new building such as is it prefabbed, does the town own the property of the new location, how close will it be to the current facility, and why does the department want a new building. Yes, the building design they are looking for is prefabbed. Yes, the town owns the property. The new site will be right next to the current site. The fire department wants a new building because the current one is quite old, built in 1951, the floors have given out, the foundation is crumbled, and the building has sunk enough that the trucks scrub when they are backed into the bays.
Mrs. Thornton explained that the USDA has a community facilities direct loan and grant program that we would qualify for. This program can help with just about anything that the public uses or benefits from, such as fire departments, rescue squads, police cars, and even streets. Their interest rates are comparable with local banks, currently at 4.25%. An advantage to using USDA is they can do longer financing terms, up to 40 years. Typically however, with a fire department, they do 20-30 year terms. Another advantage is they don’t charge an origination fee and they have an architect and attorney on site to review the process. They help with the application through the completion of construction. They are the “lender of last resort”, meaning if we can afford to get a loan at a bank then we don’t need them. Mrs. Thornton said USDA requires an architect, appraisal, and a construction loan.
Mrs. Thornton said they have two different ways we can go. We can do design, bid, build (DBD), or construction, manager, contractor (CMC). The advantage to the CMC is you can interview the contractors, but the disadvantage is this requires additional time and additional steps in the process. In her opinion, the design, bid, build will probably work better for us.
Mickel Pruden asked if this is all loan or is any of it a grant. Mrs. Thornton said that we qualify for a 75% grant; however their entire budget of grant money for the entire state is $750,000. We may be able to receive some grant money, but because of the cost of our project, roughly $750,000, Mrs. Thornton would not be able to justify that without the help of a $50,000 grant from the USDA the town of Woodland would not be able to proceed with our project.
Mrs. Thornton asked the board what we are going to do to offset the debt service. Will we raise taxes? Will we add a fire tax? Commissioner Christison pointed out we already have a fire tax and the town does not want to raise taxes since we have a very high tax rate as it is.
Mrs. Thornton said the town is eligible for the project, but an obstacle is that we have a high amount of unassigned cash. Because of this, when she puts our information in her computer, we may be required to put possibly 50% down up front, unless we can prove that this money is earmarked for something else.
Marshall Lassiter asked if the town has to have a bank refusal. Mrs. Thornton said no, however we do need the rates and terms from three different banks. We need to make sure we need USDA more than a bank.
Mayor Pro Tem Cooper asked what the first thing we need to do is. Mrs. Thornton said we need to get the board to vote for assistance through the USDA. There are no application fees so we can start the application with them at no cost. We will need an architect in the first phase and we must do a free and open process when selecting one. She said to keep in mind that we want the entire project to be $999,999 or less because once we reach that $1 million threshold we are required to do more steps that will cost us an additional $3,000 to $5,000.
At the current interest rate of 4.25%, a loan for $750,000 for 20 years will require an annual payment of $56,000. A loan for 30 years will require an annual payment of $44,700. Mrs. Thornton suggested we can use some of our fund balance money to pay partial payment up front.
Mayor Pro Tem Cooper asked for a timeline for the project. There is an application and review process that could take up to 90 days, the bidding 3 months, construction approximately 6 months, so overall possibly 1-1 ½ years to get into the facility.
A few other key facts to keep in mind: The USDA’s fiscal years ends in September and they receive new money around December. Mrs. Thornton said there are no prepayment penalties with them. We carry the insurance on the building. The finance officer must be bonded up to the amount borrowed. We must be approved by the LGC when interim funding is involved, and interim money would be involved with us since we will be using a construction loan. The first payment is due one year after the project is complete.
USDA Technical Assistance Grant: Andrew DeIonno stated there was not much more he could add to what Monica Thornton shared. Mr. DeIonno said the COG received $50,000 from USDA to provide technical assistance to communities. He talked about a county that used the COG’s help to find a way for their food program to become self sustaining. He gave a couple other examples and then said that Mayor Manuel approached the COG asking if they can help find a way for the Armory to be self sustaining.
Commissioner Christison asked if they COG’s technical assistance grant could pay for an architect for the fire department building project. The answer was no because they don’t have an architect or an engineer with the COG.
Public Comments: Mickel Pruden said that Golden Leaf is an excellent opportunity for funding. He also said that Michael Wray told him that he once wanted to build a fire department for Woodland but was turned down. We may be able to reach out to him. Another contact would be Mike Causey, the NC Insurance Commissioner. Commissioner Christison asked Mr. Pruden for the contact information for all.
Mayor Pro Tem Cooper asked the citizens to be thinking ahead for two commissioners and a mayor to run for office this coming November.
Fire Department Report: The checking account balance for the fire department is $53,420.70. Donielle McDermott reported that she deposited the $3,000 from the sale of the fire truck plus an extra $2,500 into the fire department’s CD bringing the CD total to $18,232.72. After previously speaking to Mayor Pro Tem Cooper, she decided to make the CD term only 6 months so the money will be accessible in the event they need it for the possible new fire department building.
Donielle McDermott has set up a meeting with Lee Carter from NC Cash Management Trust Funds for Friday, June 7, 2019 at 11 am. Marshall Lassiter told Mrs. McDermott about them stating we can get a much better return on our investments using them. Mrs. McDermott said we may want to move the fire department’s CD over to them depending on how the meeting goes.
Commissioner Christison asked how many more payments the department has on fire truck #192. Robbie Collier said one payment is left. Commissioner Christison asked the department if we can use that $10,000 as yearly payments towards the fire department building once that truck is paid off, and Mickel Pruden and Robbie Collier both said that would be just fine.
Maintenance Report: Mr. Lassiter read the maintenance report from Jessica Griffey and this report will be included in the Minute Book. Mr. Lassiter said that Jessica Griffey is requesting to go to Biological Wastewater Grade II Certification School July 29th-Aug. 2nd with the NC Rural Water Association. The cost of this school as a member is $405.00 and Donielle McDermott said this can come out of the new budget. Commissioner Christison made a motion to approve Mrs. Griffey registering for the Biological Wastewater Grade II Certification School. Commissioner Liverman seconded and the motion carried.
Donielle McDermott told the board that she has continued to have problems with the new meters and the meter readings. She explained that she called Bryan Jones with Ferguson Waterworks a while back asking for assistance with a couple meters not reading and never heard back from them. She then called Charlie Daniels and left him a message but has not heard from him either. Since then, she has noticed that some of the customers’ accounts are showing the same exact reading two months in a row. There is some sort of issue going on and she needs help. After Commissioner Christison reached out to Bryan Jones, he called Donielle McDermott this morning and has scheduled a meeting for Monday morning, June 10, 2019. Mrs. McDermott told Mr. Jones that she feels like the best way to resolve our issues is for someone from Ferguson Waterworks to come to Woodland on the 18th when the maintenance crew will read meters and follow along with them to see exactly what issues arise. Mr. Jones said he will schedule someone to come out that day, but he first wants to come himself and see if he can pinpoint what is going on.
Police Report: Commissioner Outland said there is nothing really to report, there are not major things happening in Woodland.
Mayor Pro Tem Cooper asked if the town could hire someone part time a few days a week that is radar certified so we can slow the drivers down. This was briefly discussed.
Donielle McDermott shared a conversation she had recently with Sheriff Jack Smith. Sheriff Smith called Mrs. McDermott in reference to some young men caught on camera at her residence going through her vehicles, under her carport, and in her golf cart. He said that there are two things the town of Woodland can do to help the sheriff’s department. First, we can hire a full time police officer for the town of Woodland. If we decide not to do that, then we can hire sheriff deputies to work seven nights a week instead of the three or four nights we have them currently working. By us hiring the deputies seven nights a week, this gives Woodland coverage on our dime while the county can provide assistance to the rest of the county.
a. Adoption of New Budget – Mrs. McDermott asked the board to pass the budget ordinance for fiscal year 2019-2020. Commissioner Liverman made a
motion to accept the budget ordinance for fiscal year 2019-2020. Commissioner Christison seconded and the motion carried.
b. Mrs. McDermott said that G2 Utilities sent in a check for $854.00 for the purchase of the old water meters.
c. At the last meeting, Mrs. McDermott told the board she had not finished the complete transaction of moving the $54,276.14 from Roanoke Chowan Regional
Housing Authority back taxes to the 30 fund. This past month she moved the money from the 10 fund to the 30 fund and this information will be included in
the Minute Book.
d. The Chamber of Commerce has their annual meeting coming up on June 13, 2019 and Mrs. McDermott encouraged the board members to attend.
e. Customer Connie Joyner on Appletree Street used to be on a vacation rate code, but the board decided to change it and put her on regular water and sewer
rate code. Mrs. McDermott did not call them to inform them of this change; therefore a Mr. Joyner called her when he got the bill. He said he understood the
change, but was upset that nobody called and told him it would be going up. Mrs. McDermott apologized to the board for not making this phone call.
f. Mickel Pruden took two days of his time and put in the clerk’s new computer and moved her computer to the front desk. Mrs. McDermott encouraged the
board to write him a thank you letter since he does not charge the town for his services.
g. Patty Deneen has been working hard on the new website and is almost ready to launch it. She also has been working for free and Mrs. McDermott wanted
her to know how much we appreciate all her work.
h. July 22, 2019 the county commissioners will hold their regular meeting at Woodland Town Hall and they would like the Woodland Town Board to all be
present as well as many citizens. This meeting will be at 6 pm.
a. Flood Plain Meeting Review – Mayor Pro Tem Cooper told the board that Milton Carpenter with the National Flood Insurance Program came on May 23,
2019 to check and see if the there have been any new houses constructed in the flood plain areas. There have not been any. Mr. Carpenter showed us an
interactive website at www.fris.nc.gov that shows the flood plain areas. After the meeting, Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Cooper rode around Woodland to see the
areas in the flood zones, and Mr. Cooper wanted to show Mr. Carpenter the low ground on Cherry St.
b. Mayor Pro Tem Cooper said there are two lots on Cherry St. for sale, and he feels we need to change the zoning on these lots to classify them as flood plain
lots. Mr. Cooper would hate for someone to buy the lot, build a home, and one day be flooded out while the board could have prevented it all along. Mayor
Pro Tem Cooper said the zoning board may have to be the one to take action on this and bring it back to the board. He will get in touch with Raymond Eaton
and have a meeting about these lots.
Comments from the Mayor Pro Tempore:
a. Water AIA Funding Application Not Approved – Mr. Cooper shared with the board the fact that Woodland was not approved for the water AIA grant. He showed them our scores and they compared them to the towns who did receive the grants. Woodland had a score of 12 and the recipients of the grants had a score of 15 or higher.
Mr. Cooper thanked Commissioner Christison and Donielle McDermott for their work on the budget.
Comments from the Commissioners: There were not comments from the commissioners.
Public Comments: There were no public comments.
Adjourn: At 8:45 pm, Commissioner Liverman made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Outland seconded and the motion carried.