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A Returning Commissioner and Two Public Hearings
June Town Board Meeting
June 8, 2021

J
une’s meeting began with four Commissioners instead of five. Commissioner Martin Barrow had moved out of town limits in May, creating a vacancy on the Board.

town hall sign Commissioners David White, Charlie Overcash, Alan Price, and Dianne Simmons were present as was Mayor Sally Belangia, establishing a quorum for the June meeting. Commissioners listened and passed two public hearings (the first unanimously, the second 3-1) and also chose former Commissioner Sandy Winfrey to fill the vacancy on the Board.

Public Hearing #1: 2021-2022 Fiscal Budget and Fee Schedule
Commissioners have been discussing the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year Budget since the end of 2020, determining what monies will be spent where. At June’s meeting,Town Manager Diane Miller presented the final budget to the Board of Commissioners.

This year’s budget, she said, includes money from the restricted Powell Fund Reserve, used to repair roads, and the expected, but not yet fully disbursed, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Said Miller, “We have appropriated $200k out of our Powell Fund Reserve into the active budget and we’re going to start working that list from the road assessment that was done in this fiscal year and go as far as that $200k – plus whatever we get from Powell this year – takes us.”

During the budget retreat, Commissioners determined which roads needed immediate attention. At the top of the list were Neuse Drive between Vandemere Street and Ragan Road, the intersection of Broad and Hodges Streets, and South Water Street. All have problems with storm water and drainage.

“In addition,” said Manager Miller, “there is $250k in the from the American Rescue Plan Act. In anticipation of that money coming forward, we put it where we thought it would do the most good.”

Miller said the guidance on how to use the ARPA funds is still unclear. Guidance received so far allows ARPA funds to be used for repairs or purchases for sewer, broadband, and water. Miller is waiting to hear if storm water expenses fall under the ‘water’ category. If they do, then funds can be applied to portions of the upcoming road repairs. If not, they can be applied to purchases for the town’s water utilities.

New builds in the area boosted last year’s budget, which was predicted to be a tight maintenance budget with lower revenue due to COVID. “Our slightly reduced projections were still outpaced,” wrote Miller in her budget message to Commissioners. “As COVID wound down, and real estate tuned up, the addition of nearly $21M of real property to our inventory assisted in the relief. We are adding single family residences and losing previously vacant lots at a pace not seen since the 1980s-1990s development boom.”

There are no tax increases in this budget, though they were discussed as a possibility during the year’s budget meetings.

There are new development fees. In the budget message, Miller wrote, ““Fees in the Chapter S Fee Schedule will be adjusted this year to include a raise in the Variance fee to $400 [from $200] in order to cover the Town’s legal advertising costs for the process, institute a Vendor Fee of $25 for all vendors wanting to sell temporarily in the Town, including food trucks, pop-up sales situations, and solicitation permits, which require background checks, and also to institute a $25 Driveway Permit Fee, due to the research and time required to approve the same.”

There were no public comments and no objections to the budget. It was unanimously approved.

Public Hearing #2: GMO Changes
The second public hearing was for changes to the General Management Ordinance (GMO). “These are very few changes,” said Miller, “little technicalities to the GMO.” The changes are as follows:

Incorporating all veterinary services and requiring a Special Use Permit instead of a Land Use Permit for those services.
Requiring a driveway permit and limiting the size of the driveway across the right of way. In the past two years, GMO changes have been made so there is no ‘covered piped drainage on the frontage of a property’. This makes it consistent with those changes. The size of the driveway is also a drainage issue for the town, since backed-up culverts can cause flooding and limiting the driveway size limits the size of the culvert.
Consistency issue with the roof pitch of manufactured homes corrected
Adding an ADA ordinance under Section 113, Building Setback Requirements to make ‘reasonable accommodations to citizens with disabilities under The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)’.

There were no public comments, however Commissioner Alan Price disagreed with the driveway size requirements. “It wouldn’t be the same if this passes,” he said, “this kind of one-thing-fits-all for all the different sections of town. From White Farm Road to the old sections of the Whittaker Creek part. I’m just not comfortable voting for it right now.”

Commissioners White, Cash, and Simmons voted for the changes. Commissioner Price voted against. The changes passed.

Commissioner Seat Vacancy Filled
Commissioner Martin Barrow moved outside Oriental town limits in May, creating a vacancy on the Board. Commissioners had the option to nominate, second, pass, and swear in a candidate or go through a balloting process to determine their newest member.

Town Manager Miller said, “We have in the past had vacancies on the Board for similar items and it has been in our best interest, with only a few meetings remaining before we get to elections, to have somebody who has both been through the ethics course required by the School of Government and the State of North Carolina, and has served in some capacity either on the Board of Commissioners or the Planning Board because they can generally step in and run with how things are already going.”

Commissioner Overcash nominated Sandy Winfrey, a former Board member. Commissioner White seconded. Sandy Winfrey was unanimously approved and sworn in by Town Manager Diane Miller. He took his seat on the Board with the other four Commissioners.

A swearing in ceremony
Town Manager Diane Miller swears in Commissioner Sandy Winfrey.
Municipal Elections, November 2021
This year, Oriental has opted out of absentee voting (early voting and mail-in voting are considered absentee voting) for the municipal elections only. One mayor and five commissioner seats are up for election every two years.

The November 2021 elections will take place Tuesday, November 2, from 6:30a – 7:30p at Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department on Straight Rd.

Candidate filing for these positions begins July 2 at noon and ends July 16 at noon, at the Bayboro County Courthouse.

Coming events
Bike MS: requests the use of Lou Mac Park as a rest stop for their Saturday Route on Sept 11, 2021, from 7a – 5p. Their eent will be self-contained and they require no assistance from the town. They will also bring their own supplies and bathrooms, and clean up after themselves. Commissioners approve use of Lou Mac Park for Bike MS.
• Parrothead Regatta Request: The Parrtohead Regatta will be here Saturday, July 24, 2021. They request the closure of the public docks for their use. They will let the town know the number of registered boats as the event gets closer, so as not to close off two docks and only need one. Commissioners agree to the use of the town’s docks for July 24.

Dates to Know
The July Town Board Meeting will be held Thursday, June 24 at 7p to ensure a quorum and avoid the July 4th holiday. Town Hall will be closed Wednesday, June 30 all day. Upcoming Town Board meeting dates for the 2021-2022 fiscal year are in the links below.

Related Links
• June Agenda
May Meeting Minutes
• 2021 – 2022 Fiscal Year Budget and Fees
GMO Amendment
• Town Hall Meeting Schedule 2021-2022
MS Bike Request For Lou Mac Park
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Resolution
• 2021 Municipal Election Paperwork
GFL Contract Amendment
Police Report
Manager’s Report
Auxiliary Board Reports

Posted Tuesday June 8, 2021 by Allison DeWeese


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