From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, covering the week through May 22, 2011. Photo of Academy Street by Hal Goodtree.
This week started off with a little golf outing in Augusta and ended with my 2011 campaign re-election kickoff event. In between was the first budget work session, a joint meeting of the Cary/Morrisville subcommittee, and a few hours picking up litter.
Monday: Augusta National – Sticking to Tennis
On Monday I had the privilege to play the Augusta National as part of their appreciation for my volunteering to work the Masters Golf tournament. The Masters is the most prestigious golf tournament in the world and I am blessed to be a part of it. Anyway, as usual, the course ate me up and spit me out. I really didn’t have any good holes and quit keeping score after about 3 holes. Thank goodness for tennis!
Tuesday: Standing Up for the CPD
Tuesday it was back to work. In the afternoon I met with the finance director, town manager, town clerk, and staff members to sign bond papers. In the past there have been large stacks of documents to sign. This time there was just a few.
After signing documents I met with the town manager briefly before the work session. My discussion with him was on our police department. They have taken a lot of hurtful comments from the media that were not deserved and I wanted him to know that the police department had my support. I issued the following email in response to a staff email that thanked all the departments in the Cooper case:
“Thank you for copying me on this email. I just want to express my sincerest thanks to our police department. Despite the assaults by the media you stood with integrity and in the end justice was done. I am so very proud to be an elected official of a town that has the greatest police department in the state. Thanks to all the men and women for all you do each and every day. Please know that you have my complete confidence and backing. And while I don’t usually speak for the council without asking, I am sure you have theirs too.
Great job! Take care!”
Tuesday: Town Budget Saves 36%
Later Tuesday we had our first work session on the budget. In the meeting we went over operating costs and capital costs at on overview level. Then we drilled down on each topic. Here are some of the points that I thought were noteworthy:
- Operating costs were up 4%
- Overall budget was close to $222 million which was a 36% decrease from last year
- Our tax base growth is expected to be 2.2% in fiscal year 2012
- We will hire 27 positions which include 15 firefighters (for the new station) and 10 police officers
- We will spend $500,000 for a rail corridor study. This will give us information and options to prevent our crossings from being closed.
- Our utility fees will increase by 5.9%. 60% of that is maintaining existing infrastructure and the rest is for the new wastewater plant.
- Our Out year Projection Tool, which is a worst case scenario version, shows our taxes will remain low for the next ten years (36.9). Of course that has always projected a tax increase since I have been on council and we haven’t raised taxes in over 20 years.
- Capital outlays include $8 million for downtown with the focus between Harrison and Walker Streets.
- Special facilities with interlocal funding include improvements for the soccer park, USA baseball training complex, and the tennis center.
Our next work session on the budget will be at 4:30 PM on May 26th.
Wednesday: School of Government
Wednesday I attended the graduation ceremony for the School of Government. The ceremony started with a presentation on downtown by Ed Gawf, the downtown manager. I, along with the council members in attendance answered questions. I addressed about four questions including one on quasi-judicial hearings and one on relationships between towns. After the questions I, and the other council members, handed out the class certification and congratulated the graduates.
Meeting with Wake County Commissioner West
Thursday evening I met with Wake County Commissioner James West. We talked for about 45 minutes on a variety of issues.
I was the 6th or 7th Wake County mayor he has met in his quest to talk with all the mayors. In our conversation he spoke about some of the great things local leaders have done in the past few years. Some of the people he spoke highly of were Mayor Meeker and former elected officials Harold Webb and Vernon Malone.
One thing we both strongly agreed on was the importance of establishing relationships with fellow elected officials. I strongly believe it is healthy to have a wide variety of philosophies on a board. I also believe for a board to be effective they need to work together, listen to each other, put party politics aside, and work for the common good of all.
While this is stating the obvious, it is not what is happening in most elected bodies today.
Thursday evening I participated in a joint meeting of the Cary and Morrisville subcommittee. Elected officials attending for Morrisville included Mayor Holcombe, Mayor Pro-Tem Martin, and council member Diehl. Elected officials for Cary included council member Robinson for one item and me.
Highway 54 Corridor Study
The first topic of discussion was the Highway 54 corridor study. According to Morrisville staff this study will be the first of three phases of study and uses a DOT study. The first phase will study the corridor from Morrisville to Maynard Road in Cary. The first phase of the study is estimated to take 1 ½ to 2 years. Once it is completed the towns should be in a great position to apply for grants.
The second topic discussed was boundary issues. Staffs from both towns looked at development plans to see if key intersections on boundaries matched or had any conflicts. They provided a map that included the Airport Boulevard area, the Twin Lakes/Davis Drive area, the Manchester Park/McCrimmon Parkway area, the McCrimmon Park and Old Maynard Road area, and the Twin Lakes and McCrimmon Parkway area. The map showed the land uses from both towns and the staff and committee discussed potential conflicts in planning interest.
The third topic was extending C-Tran service into Morrisville. Morrisville staff reported that they are still trying to scope the work and the demand from their citizens. Their best guestimate is that it might be $100,000 in cost to Morrisville. It is interesting to note that one penny on the tax rate in Morrisville equates to roughly $300,000. Morrisville will provide additional information at our next joint meeting.
Our final topic for discussion was on legislative authority. Staffs provided a handout to show what authorities each municipalities had. I didn’t see any authorities that Morrisville had that did not include Cary. On the other hand, Morrisville lacked several authorities that Cary had. Both Mayor Holcombe and I agreed that we should know more so we asked staff provide information of all authorities in Wake County especially related to fees.
The committee ended the night by deciding to hold our next meeting on Monday, November 14th in Morrisville at 6:30.
Saturday: Clean Up, Adcock Campaign
Saturday I participated in the Spring Litter Sweep which is part of our SPRUCE litter reduction and beautification program. I along with a few Cary citizens picked up litter along US1 from Cary Parkway to Walnut Street. I estimate we had about 20 bags of garbage and about 10 bags of recyclable materials. The most unusual item was a king size mattress. Usually we find money on the litter sweeps but apparently people have been holding on to money tight. We were only able to find a quarter.
Saturday afternoon I attended council member Adcock’s campaign kickoff. Gale has been a tremendous asset to council and a great leader for Cary. She has my support and I wish her the best of luck.
Sunday: Campaign Kickoff
Sunday I held my campaign kickoff at Davis Drive Park. We had about three dozen folks show up including one TV crew. After about 30 minutes or so I gave a few comments that talked about our past and where we are headed in the future. Council members Portman and Adcock were also in attendance and gave brief comments.
This week was also significant to me personally. My youngest daughter attended her last day of school.
It seems like last year that she was headed off to the first grade. I can still see her walking into the first day of school without looking back with a book bag as big as she was. It is unbelievable how fast time flies. She will be graduating this Friday.
Over the years her school had kept several of her papers and she gave me a poem she wrote in 2008 titled “The Mayor”:
Each day he serves everyone but himself,
Each hour he thinks on so selflessly,
And each minute he does more than many dream.
Everyone knows of him,
Everyone watches him while he works,
Yet everyone expects more.
Every day he tries harder than the last,
Every hour he loves more than before,
And every minute he receives less.
His heart bigger than any,
His job harder than most,
But his love more special than any other.
Running the town every day,
Not seeing his family every day,
And they wonder why the job is so hard.
Each day he lives the best he can,
Every day he works as hard as he can,
Yet no one notices.
I am so humbled by my daughter’s words. Seeing her graduate on Friday will be bitter sweet. I am so very proud of her.
Emails this week included complaints about the apartment proposal at Tryon Road and Cary Parkway, a comment about the Bowden sign case, a complaint about a blocked drain, a complaint about a 911 tape, a complaint about the proposed budget, and several invitations to end of school events.
Next week will be a typical week and includes a taping of Cary Matters, a budget work session, and a council meeting.
Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 29th. Please feel free to email me with a comment. Email all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org. Email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.