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Town Board Meeting July 2017
Flooding Study, Surplus Funds, New Hours At Town Hall
July 6, 2017

study is funded to assess flooding on Hodges Street, final figures for the 16-17 fiscal year emerge, funds are set aside for eventual replacement of an ancient generator and one of two electric car charging stations is up and running.

Those were some of the items of business when Oriental’s Town Board held July meeting on June 28th (rather than the first Tuesday, July 4th).

Hiring Police Officer, Update
town hall signTown Manager Diane Miller said the Town was still waiting of the return of additional State paperwork for Nic Blayney before he can be sworn in as a police officer. While the Town Manager had been hoping to have Blayney in place for Croakerfest the first weekend in July, that hoped-for start date has been pushed ahead to the end of the month. For Croakerfest, Sheriff Chris Davis was to provide several deputies for Oriental.

Croakerfest Fireworks From The Bridge.
At this year’s Croaker Festival, fireworks were to be lit from the bridge because previous launch sites have been developed residentially. Organizers considered getting a barge for the job, but that would have cost the festival an additional $140,000. The alternative – of launching from the bridge – would mean closing the bridge to all traffic – vehicular and foot – for several hours, 3-11p. The Town Manager said banners would be displayed to spell out the impending closure; fire and EMS service would be on standby on either side of the bridge and Coast Guard would keep boaters clear of the bridge in case of falling debris.

Town Dock Reserved for Parrothead Regatta
Miller also said that the Parrothead Regatta was scheduled for July 22nd, and that the organizers were making their yearly request to reserve the free Town Dock on Hodges. They did not specify a time. The Board approved the request, setting the same hours as last year: 2p Saturday to 11a Sunday. The Board also discussed allowing the boats to raft up for the event despite a town ordinance against it. Commissioners decided that it could be done for this event, so long as it was done on the Styron side of the Town Dock.

Grant Secured to Study Flooding on Hodges
Town Manager Miller told the Board that since the last Board meeting, she applied for a North Carolina Division of Coastal Management grant to pay for an engineering study of the flooding that occurs on Hodges Street and around the Duck Pond. The grant has been approved by the NCDCM, but first needed the Town Board to sign on.

The Board approved the application for the grant which would be fully funded by the state and would require no funds from the town. In years past, there have been other studies and discussions on how to alleviate flooding, including raising Hodges or creating bridges to allow water to flow freely into the harbor. These former plans were not discussed at July’s board meeting.

Sea Harbor Yacht Club has also applied for a grant for the Pierce Creek Shallow Draft Dredging project. This is not the same grant or funds as for the dredging of Whittaker Creek. Like The Friends of Whittaker Creek, Sea Harbor Yacht Club is asking that Town to act as custodian of the grant funds. The Town will receive and disburse the funds accordingly. No Town funds will be used in this project.

Budget Amendments and Resolutions
Town Manager Miller proposed several budget amendment to be approved prior to the close of the fiscal year on June 30th. The income the Town received this year was greater than expected, Miller said, and that money would be disbursed (via amendments) into departments that were underfunded or overspent. Miller said, “This is our annual, end-of-the-year, get it all back in balance amendment. All of the things on this budget amendment that you’re gonna see, we have discussed as some point through the year.”

The income and amendments are as follows:

  • Property Tax revenue was budgeted to be $438,760, but is now sitting at $459,351.45 with another month’s income left to go. This is an increase of $21,351 plus.

  • Sales & Use Tax was budgeted at $117,900 and is currently at $164,674.39. This is an increase of $47,674.39.
  • Drainage Maintenance was budgeted at $2,500, but spent about $16,000.
  • Tourism funds went over approximately $4,300.
  • Administrative salaries went over budget due to high turnover and overlapping training of new hires. An amount was not provided, however the proposed amendment was for $15,500.
  • Christmas tree pickup was twice as much as expected. Originally budgeted at $5,800, the amendment proposed an additional $5,900.
  • Funds for street signs went way over budget as new state regulations regarding visibility went into effect. Street signs had to be brought up to code, costing more than expected. The budgeted amount was $750. The amendment proposed an additional $5,100.

The Town Manager also put forth resolutions to fund capital reserve accounts for the eventual replacement of the Town Hall generator and the Police vehicle. The money is set aside in special accounts called Capital Reserve accounts. When these items need replaced, money can be pulled from these accounts instead of hitting the budget with large, unexpected expenses. The Police Vehicle Capital Reserve Fund was created in the 2015-16 fiscal year for $3,000. It was funded at $5,000 in 2016-17 fiscal year and in the 2017-18 fiscal year for a total of $13,000. The Emergency Generator Fund was created in the 2016-17 fiscal year and funded at $5,000. It was again funded at $5,000 in the 2017-18 year for a total of $10,000.

The Town Board approved both the amendments and the reserve resolutions. Town Manager Miller said, “Every penny I’m asking you to move out of [general] fund balance is recovered in the revenues that were not expected this year. I will still expect us, once we get everything settled department by department, that we will be putting a significant sum back into general fund balance.” Miller did not give a number for the significant sum.

Public Comments and Questions
During public comments, Jennifer Roe asked why a town as small as Oriental would need two full-time officers, which the FY2017-18 budget calls for. She also questioned the Board’s vote at its early June meeting, to close Town Hall’s administrative offices to the public at 4p rather than at 5p.The Town Manager had said she and staff needed uninterrupted time to work. Roe asked what other towns had done on the issue. She also wanted to know if a study had been done to determine the high traffic times at Town Hall, prior to cutting the public hours.

Another commenter, Grace Evans, asked about the functionality of the solar panels on the roof of the Town Hall. Town Manager Miller replied that they were not left with schematics to the system which had been ordered by former Town Manager Bob Maxbauer. Commissioner Charlie Overcash said the system is very intricate and he was working to draw up plans and instructions on its use.

Grace Evans also asked about the malfunctioning water fountains at Town hall. Town Manager Miller replied that they could not be repaired, and would have to be replaced. The same part malfunctioned in both fountains. The replacement will occur after July when the new budget goes into effect.

Board Calendars Will Remain The Same
The various town boards will retain the same schedule for the upcoming year with the exception of the Water Advisory Board. As the water plant is now up to code and working properly, the Water Advisory Board wants to meet only on an “as needed” basis. Town Manager Miller and the Town Board decided that the WAB should meet semi-annually instead to help avoid the accumulation of problems with the water plant as experienced in the past.

Updates, Reminders, and Notice of Town Hall Hour Change
The first electric car charging stations is in at the Town Hall. A second one is awaiting installation near the public restrooms at the harbor.

The Pamlico Board of Elections will be replacing their voting equipment by 2019. They are doing a demonstration for the public at their meeting on July 25th, beginning at 10:30a. This demonstration does not show the final products they have selected, but rather the ones they are considering and testing.

The trial run for the new public hours for Town Hall go into effect beginning on Monday, July 3rd. The Town Hall will close to the public one hour early, at 4p, Monday through Thursday to allow the Manager and staff to work on longer projects without interruption.

There was no Sheriff’s report. The sirens went off at the beginning of the Board Meeting. He did not return before the meeting was adjourned.

The next Town Board Meeting will take place on the first Tuesday in August.

Meeting Documents

Posted Thursday July 6, 2017 by Allison DeWeese

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