Town of Woodland Board Minutes
Date: August 3, 2023
Randy Beale - Mayor
David Cooper – Commissioner
Brian Christison – Commissioner
Ricky Morris - Commissioner
Raymond Eaton - ORC
Brittany Burgess – Town Clerk
Commissioner Outland was absent.
Call to Order: Mayor Beale called the board meeting to order at 7:00 pm. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited followed by a moment of silent reflection.
Approval of Agenda: The first item of business was the approval or amendment of the agenda. Commissioner Christison made the first amendment on Item #8 to add section E. Direct Deposit, section F. Time Cards, and section G. Schedules. Second amendment on Item #9 to add section A. Park Walking Trail, section B. Lights in Warehouse, section C. Peachtree Project. Third amendment was to add section A to Item #13 - Closed Session. Commissioner Christison made a motion to approve the amended agenda, Commissioner Cooper seconded, and the motion carried.
Approval of Minutes: The next item on the agenda was the approval or amendment of the regular meeting dated July 6, 2023. Commissioner Christison made a motion to approve the minutes from the regular meeting dated July 6, 2023, Commissioner Cooper seconded, and the motion passed.
Consideration of Bills: Commissioner Cooper made a motion to pay all the current bills and to also pay all the regular bills that come in throughout the month. Commissioner Christison seconded, and the motion carried.
Public Comments: Mrs. Donna Mitchell filed a speeding complaint to Mrs. Bolton earlier in the week which was added to the agenda under the Clerk Report, she briefly touched on that subject during this segment. Mayor Beale explained to her that the police chief for our town left last month, and we are currently utilizing the Sheriff’s Department as they are available. He suggests she mention that to the Sheriff’s Department when she sees them patrolling. She also complains that she and her husband live across the street from Dollar General, so they often walk over there to shop and there is trash everywhere along the street. She wanted to know if there were kids, we could pay to clean the trash up, but Commissioner Cooper informed her because of child labor laws, we cannot do that. Commissioner Christison thanked her for attending and invited her to continue coming to the Town Board Meetings.
Mrs. Joyce Flood was also in attendance, she lives halfway between Woodland and George. She complained about the trash littering the highway, as well. She questioned if we could pay for the prisoners to come by and pick up trash like she has seen in other towns. Commissioner Morris explained to her that there is no longer a prison in our county so we cannot do that. The Town has investigated getting assistance from community service as well, but it wasn’t worth it.
Mr. Mann attended the meeting as well and agreed with the trash complaints and says that he also cleans up along the road.
Commissioner Cooper thanked them all for cleaning up and told them the Board really appreciates the help. Commissioner Christison said that the Board hears the public’s concerns. Commissioner Cooper mentioned that it is the same issue with the basketball court.
Mrs. Flood said she was just concerned that the Town has no pool for the African Americans to enjoy, the Board assured her that the pool she is referring to is a private pool and is not affiliated with the Town. Mayor Beale encouraged her to continue coming to the town meetings.
Fire Department: Robbie Collier presented the monthly fire report. Open House for the Fired Department will be September 23 from 10-2. Chris Collier worked with John White to get a new date for the event and settled on 9/23/23. Each Fire Department in Northampton County will be receiving $5,850 that is to be used however they see fit, the check is in the mail. Commissioner Christison asked the average amount of calls that the Fire Department gets in a year, Mr. Collier replied between 85-110 is the norm Commissioner Christison asked about their response to calls including stabbings or shootings, Mr. Collier informed the Board that they respond to all calls. Mr. Collier explained that depending on the scenarios and situations at hand, they sometimes must jump right in and start helping with the individual(s) medically until Emergency Services arrive on scene. Mayor Beale expressed his appreciation for the Fire Department. Mr. Collier believes before too long there will be a mandate for all First Responders to have bulletproof vests and helmets.
Police Report: Commissioner Morris reports that all police vehicles are accounted for. We are currently utilizing the Sheriff’s Department for coverage as we do not have an officer for the Town, they work as they are available so there is no set schedule. Commissioner Cooper reminded the Board and the public that hiring a Police Officer for the Town is a long process and can take months. Commissioner Cooper asked if the Town has another speed reader sign, Commissioner Morris replied yes, there is one in the Police Chief’s office and that office is always locked up.
Commissioner Morris informed the Board that he attended the National Night Out event that was held in Garysburg and it was a huge success for Northampton County. Commissioner Morris mentioned that he will be mailing out a letter to our past Police Chief, Eddie Hoggard informing him that we will not be retaining him for a part-time position, and he would like the Board to read over the letter before he sends it. He also mentioned that this is just one step in a long process. Each Board member agreed with the sending of the letter with addition of the Mayor’s signature.
a. Mrs. Burgess explained to the board there is a training for the current software being used by the town (Southern Software) that she can participate in located in Southern Pines NC which is free to the town other than the lodging, travel, and food for the trip. Southern Software can also come here to the Town Hall and do two days of training for $2,000. The training would be for two consecutive days in Southern Pines. The last dates she had received were August 8th and 9th but declined because that was too soon but she could reach out and find out when the next two days of training would be. The Board agreed for Mrs. Burgess to go on this trip and return receipts in after for reimbursement, they asked for her to inform them of the next dates available.
b. Mrs. Burgess provided the memo that was made after the regular board meeting in May which reflected the Per Diem Reimbursement amounts and wanted the Board to agree on the amounts before going through the process of adding it to the Personnel Policy. The Board would like the memo to include that receipts must be handed in to the clerk in order to receive reimbursement. Commissioner Christison also commented that the individual’s leaving time will determine if they will receive reimbursement for their breakfast, for example: 7 AM leave time will not receive reimbursement, but 3 AM leave time will.
c. Mrs. Burgess explained to the Board that before Chief Hoggard left, he had Data Group Technologies come in and install a VPN system for the Police Department, but in doing so he took the internet router that the Town was using to be used for the Police Department’s own WiFi and he replaced the Town’s router with a Linksys router from Walmart. He gave Mrs. Burgess the password for the Woodland Town Hall WiFi, but not for the Woodland PD WiFi or the Woodland Guest Wifi. After reaching out to Chief Hoggard, he said Mrs. Burgess would need to reach out to Linksys and possibly reset the passwords because he did not remember them. Mayor Beale tabled the discussion to talk about in Closed Session.
d. Blaine Humphrey from Rivers and Associates sent an email to Mrs. Burgess asking if the Town would like to apply for the Lead Service Line Project. Commissioner Cooper asked Mr. Eaton how many water meters we have in town, Mr. Eaton replied approximately there are 260 or so, Mrs. Burgess said that there were 264 Water Bills that were recently sent out. Commissioner Cooper asked to verify that this is the project that we will have to dig behind all the water meters and see what kind of pipes are running to each home, Mr. Eaton corrected him and said we will have to know what kind of pipes are running to both the meter and the house. Commissioner Christion asked if this grant’s funds are 100% approved to us, or if this grant’s funds are only 25% approved to us. Mrs. Burgess replied this grant’s funds is the 25% approved. Commissioner Christison worries about going for grants that we are going to have to pay payments on because they are starting to rack up and throw the Town off budget. Commissioner Christison then explained that any of these grants for Wastewater that the Town has to make payments on comes from the 30 fund. He also explained that when receiving a 25% grant, the Town only receives 25% of the funds and then the other 75% is loan forgiveness which is a loan with 0% interest that we will end up having to pay back over 30 years. Commissioner Christison also noted that the only way to gain any money back from all of that is to raise water bills which we just did at the beginning of this fiscal year. Commissioner Christison does not know how we will continue applying for these grants unless they are 100% because he worries about where the money will come from to make the payments. Commissioner Christison wants to go forward with the Stormwater Project because that one is 100%. Mr. Eaton mentioned that this project has to be done by October 16th 2024 regardless because it’s mandated by the EPA, so Commissioner Christison says if that is the case then we don’t have a choice but to go for the grant. Commissioner says that if there are projects that we must do then we will do them, but if there are some that aren’t mandatory to be done then we need to opt out. Mr. Eaton then called Mr. Blaine Humphrey to see if we could ask for more than 25%, Mr. Humphrey says we could possibly get 100% principal forgiveness. Mr. Humphrey says that he put the application together with the 25% assuming that Rivers and the Town does all the paperwork. Commissioner Christison asked what the amount was that Mr. Humphrey expected for this project, Mr. Humphrey replied $200,000. Mr. Humphrey says he worries about the inventory side of this project because they only have a 5-year loan. The Town would like the forgiveness to be at least 50% if Mr. Humphrey can manage that. Commissioner Christison believes that we should pay that difference off rather than financing it to not mess up the budget. Commissioner Christison motioned to approve the Stormwater Stormwater Improving Grant for $277,000 with 100% forgiveness, Commissioner Morris seconded and the motion carried. Commissioner Christison motioned to approve the Lead Service Line Project Grant for $200,000 with a 25% forgiveness, in hopes of getting 50%, Commissioner Morris seconded, and the motion carried.
e. Commissioner Christison notes that in the last Board Meeting the Board approved to go forward with Direct Deposit since a handful of employees were present and agreed. Recently we have had an issue with several employees not wanting to comply, Commissioner Christison states we can do both Direct Deposit and paper checks. We can do one or the other, all or nothing, because we are not going to do two different processes. Several other towns pay through Direct Deposit, and he believes we should follow suit. Mayor Beale asked what the complaints were from the employees. Mrs. Burgess read over the form that the employees have to complete and sign to participate in Direct Deposit which states, “I hereby authorize the Town of Woodland to deposit my pay and initiate credit entries or such adjusting entries, either debits or credits, which are necessary for correction to the accounts and banks I have indicated below”. Mrs. Burgess explained that some of the employees are worried that their accounts can be debited, Commissioner Christison also notes that this is a standard form from the bank. Mrs. Burgess then explained that their accounts would only be debited for correction purposes just as the form says. Commissioner Christison also explained that the only amount that would be taken away from anyone’s account would be over payment. Commissioner Christion makes note that Direct Deposit is a huge benefit for the employees, so they do not have to go to the bank to deposit their check every Thursday, and it is also a benefit to the Town Clerks in their payroll processing. Commissioner Cooper agrees it is a great benefit for everyone, and the rest of the Board agrees. Commissioner Christison motions to do Direct Deposit, with intentions to sit down with each employee and thoroughly explain the process to them. Commissioner Morris seconded the motion and it carried.
f. The Board agrees that employee’s time cards should not be written, their times should be punched on the time card from the time clock and it should be done by each individual employee, no one should be doing it for other employees.
g. The Board would like the Town employees to provide a tentative weekly schedule to the Mayor as well as Leave Slips/Time Off Requests for any days that an employee will not be at work. This way the Town Board knows where the Town Employees are throughout the week.
Maintenance Report: Raymond Eaton read the monthly report and amended that the date on his report should be July 2024.
a. Mr. Eaton provided a quote for the Walking Trail at the Park to be redone, the amount was $25,000. The Board agreed. There is $16,000 in OSBM allotted for the Walking Trail. Commissioner Morris motioned to move money to go ahead with the Walking Trail being redone, Commissioner Christison seconded, and the motion passed.
b. Mr. Eaton has estimates for the lights in the warehouse to be replaced. One contractor has given his quote and his workman’s comp and the other has not. Bland’s Construction that is putting in the Town Hall’s generator, gave a quote of $4,000 and the other quote is from Roy Lassiter for $3,300 who has not provided his workman’s comp.
c. Mr. Eaton reports that Step Construction is on schedule with the Peachtree/Chestnut Project as of right now, he has run into some complications where he had to block off Sycamore. Commissioner Cooper says the old sewer line did not run parallel to the new one, it crossed so they had to stop and camp it. Commissioner Cooper spoke with Larry Melton from Rivers and Associates and agreed that the manhole is going to need pumping out and to vacuum out the bottom of it so they can continue working to rehab it.
Comments from the Mayor: Mayor Beale thanks everyone for their work and thanks the community for coming out.
Comments from the Commissioners: Commissioner Cooper asked if we had any complaints or issues with water bills since we increase the water rates, Mrs. Burgess replied no. The Board thanks everyone for their work and thanks the community for coming.
Public Comments: A gentleman came in during the meeting and expressed interest in opening an internet café here in Woodland at the old Pool Hall. Mayor Beale said he himself was against having an internet café in Town but he does not speak for the Board. The Board told the gentleman that Mr. Eaton is the head of Zoning and would be the best person to talk about it. Mr. Eaton noted that this was brought before on for a separate internet café was turned down. Mayor Beale suggested the gentleman complete a zoning application and the Board could decide on that later. Mrs. Burgess gave him a zoning application to complete and return to Town Hall.
Adjourn: At 8:19 pm, Commissioner Christison made a motion to adjourn the open session meeting and go into closed session, Commissioner Morris seconded and the motion carried.