cary-mayor-weinbrecht-0930

Harold’s Blog: Week Ending Sept 30

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos by Karen Mardahl.

Cary, NC – This week was slow even with the council work session and regular meeting.

Monday – Prepping for Town Council

Monday I called council members to find out any issues, questions, or concerns they might have had with Thursday’s upcoming meeting agenda. I was able to contact all council members but one and there were no questions or concerns.

Later in the day I met with management and directors to go over the agenda. We did go over the entire agenda but it was a short meeting since the agenda only had one discussion item. Some of the interesting items included a public hearing on the annexation and rezoning of the Howell tract near Davis Drive and Farm Pond Road. Another was the requested waiver to install a reclaimed water line in the Cedar Bend subdivision.

Despite these items my prediction was that Thursday’s meeting would be very short and we would be done by 7:30.

Wednesday – Town Manager

My weekly meeting with the town manager was moved from Tuesday to Wednesday. Our discussion was brief and we talked about two issues. He wanted to make sure I was aware that the apartments adjacent to the Harrison Pointe shopping center will begin (moving dirt).

We also talked about the downtown theater bids coming in over budget which I mentioned in a previous blog. A proposal to cover this excess cost will likely require a council decision in October.

Wednesday – Fairness and Cary News

Later Wednesday I, along with the entire Public Information Office staff, met with the Cary News editor and the reporter covering Cary.

There was a lot of information exchanged and expectations expressed. Some interesting points: When the editor was asked about fair, accurate, and balanced reporting she responded that reporting should always be accurate. She went on to say that reporters are people too and have opinions. She did state that she was old school and would just give the facts in her writings. However, she stopped short of saying that reporters have to do the same thing.

This fits with the writing style of some reporting in Cary. That is, formulate an opinion and then write the story. Another interesting question asked was how the local news staff will measure their success. We were told their success would probably be measured on how well they covered the growth in Western Wake and economic development. The meeting was very positive and lasted a little over an hour.

Thursday – Planning the Retreat

Thursday started with a council work session to make decisions for the council retreat scheduled for January 18th and 19th. The retreat will be held in New Bern at the Doubletree by Hilton. The budget for the retreat will be about the same as in previous years (including in-town retreats). It is important to understand that the retreat is a time where council has in depth discussions with staff resulting in the direction for the remainder of the year. The main topics for this year’s retreat include:

  • Spotlight on Success: Commitment and Resources Yield Positive Results
    • Examples include project PHOENIX and Aquastar
  • Economic Development: Operating in “The New Normal”
  • Using Incentives (Business Improvement districts and Tax incremental financing)
    • Fees, Rules and Regulations
    • Eliminating Disincentives and Impediments
    • Reusing old buildings
    • Infill development
    • New development
    • Redevelopment
    • Removing Hurdles to Starting and expanding a business
    • Customer Service considerations
  • Planning, Zoning, and Development: Making Sense of it All
    • Council’s top 10
    • The ins and outs of development including legal considerations
    • The process of rezonings, mixed use development, planned development districts, zoning conditions, development plans, traffic studies, etc.
    • Results on the Ground – are we getting what we want and expect?
  • An aging Population: What are we doing? What should we be doing?
    • Existing programs, facilities, and services for older residents
    • Planning for changes (PRCR Master plan, Community Plan)
    • What else is needed?

Our work session ended after about an hour of discussion.

Thursday – Council Meeting

Thursday’s council meeting was dominated by comments at the Public Hearing for an annexation and rezoning of the Howell track near the corner of Farm Pond Road and Davis Drive. Nearby county residents were complaining of promises made to them decades ago not to connect Farm Pond Road and to not allow dense development.

In other discussion items the council voted to require the Cedar Bend subdivision developer to install reclaimed water pipe in the sub division even though the reclaimed water line won’t reach the subdivision for a few more years. The good news is that PVC last for over a hundred years. So once the line is there they residents will have free irrigation and the town will save on water usage.

The council meeting also had a closed session on an economic development opportunity. The meeting ended at 8 PM.

Letters

Letters received via snail mail this week included one from the Divan Center for Turkish-American Muslims. Here is an excerpt from that letter:

“… We denounce all kinds of acts of violence regardless of its rationale, enforcers, and particularly against innocent fellow human beings. We underline that these attacks are against the teachings of Islam and Prophet Muhammed. Our prayers and thoughts go out to the families of US Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three embassy staff members, and their loved ones. …”

Another letter received this week complained about the Tryon Road Greenway construction. It stated that it destroyed nesting areas of birds and habitats for other animals.

Emails from Staff

Emails from staff this week included notification that the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University recognized 111 innovative government initiatives as Bright Ideas, including the Town of Cary’s Virtual Interactive Planner (VIP). The internet-based tool is an online tutorial to the Town of Cary’s comprehensive planning and development processes. It is accessible athttp://vip.townofcary.org or by mobile device at http://mvip.townofcary.org.

Emails from citizens this week included congratulations on the town receiving recognition for its VIP tool, a complaint that Cary’s water and sewer bill is higher than Raleigh’s, a complaint about stopping the red-light camera program, and a complaint (from the gentleman mentioned below) that the town is unethical because we have a video explaining the bonds.

[Begin soapbox]

This week the local newspaper had a very disappointing article about the Cary’s bonds video. It suggests that Cary is acting illegally with the video by promoting the bonds (which is absolutely false). To back up their argument they use an individual who has created a web site and claims to be a watchdog group (actually he does meet occasionally with two other gentlemen for coffee). This individual/group has stated that we should not vote for the bonds in addition to saying we should close the Cary Tennis Center, the Baseball Complex, the Wake-Med Soccer Complex, and the Booth Amphitheater. He/they also say the town put in automated water meters to spy on people. I think it is safe to say he/they are extreme.

It is clear to me that the reporter for the local paper has an opinion that the town’s video is not legal and wrote his story from that point of view. This type of reporting is accepted by the editor (as was stated in our meeting earlier in the week). Whatever happened to accurate, fair, and balanced? Once again, it appears the local newspaper is doing what it can to create controversy and ultimately harm Cary. Shame on them!

I have watched the video several times and it explains why we are having the bonds, what questions will be asked of the voters, what types of things will be accomplished if the bonds are approved, and what will happen if the bonds are not approved. It also clearly states how a tax increase will be used to pay for the bonds. To view the video and judge for yourself, go to http://carybonds.org.

[End soapbox]

Next week will be very busy for me and includes a grand opening, the SAS Championship, and hosting a delegation from Ireland.

Get in Touch

Well that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday October 7th. 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.

7 replies
  1. Dean
    Dean says:

    A little touchy Harold?
    Here is the link to the news article.

    It gives plenty of space to the bond issue and even points to the Cary Bond site. What is so wrong as to getting another opinion on the bond issue?

    The reporter might have had an issue with how the bond issues are being presented and that is valid. A reporter actually taking politicians to tasks these days seems refreshing. I personally do not want my tax dollars spent promoting increasing my tax burden.

    In 2008 the property values of Cary were evaluated and just like everywhere else in Wake county, values went up by an average of 38%. There are still a few years before the valuation happens again. This means, without raising taxes, The Town of Cary basically did raise taxes. Tax Revenues increased by $6 million during a recession. Tax revenues are now $10 million higher than in 2008.

    Instead of using the extra revenue to fill short comings in road or park projects, where did that money go?

    The answer. Sales and permit revenues have decreased while operational costs have increased. Of course, taxing property owners is not going to increase their buying habits.

    I am not a member of the Cary Watchmen.

  2. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    The mayor is 100% correct here. Newspapers and other media outlets deliberately try to create controversy. They are de-incentivized to present the news in a fair and balanced way. What they want to do is make money. And it’s been proven that one of the best ways for the media to make money and sell newspapers and other advertising is to create tension, controversy, and divide the community. Often this is done with shady facts, ideology-driven opinion-based reporting, and outright lies. It is shameless, and we as a community need to objectively seek out the facts and emotionally disengage from this type of crass manipulation.

    • Dean
      Dean says:

      Suzanne, did you read the Cary News article?

      It doesn’t seem very biased or opinionated. I think it is nice to be informed that The Town of Cary spent $186,000, 3 times the average household income, on a campaign to increase property taxes.

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    The timing of a taxpayer funded marketing video is incredible.

    My Mom taught me once that anything that’s good doesn’t need a hard sell.

    Also, anything that is well-designed does not need a lengthy explanation!

    Look what the feds spent:
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/22/video-surfaces-patton-parody-that-cost-taxpayers-52g-agency-under-investigation/

    Full disclosure:
    I do not use PBS, NPR, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN for any news.

    quote: “It is shameless, and we as a country need to objectively seek out the facts and emotionally disengage from this type of crass manipulation by the above outlets.”

    I only wish there were matching funds to do a counter video!
    I have my own HD camera and scenery. All I need is some space in the Cloud before now and election day…

    Or, maybe a YouTube Channel would suffice! 10 min. limit and 1G for free.

  4. Harold Weinbrecht
    Harold Weinbrecht says:

    Dean,

    At the last reevaluation Cary lowered the tax rate to be revenue neutral. That means we did NOT take in more revenue via taxes.

    On funding the video. Council approved a budget to educate the public on the bond referendum. It includes the newspaper, mailers, BUD TV, and yes a video. Please know that we have a Public information budget. Cary citizens are more informed (and involved) than citizens in most municipalities which is the way I think it should be.

    I think it is also important to understand that this video is to explain: WHAT the bond is for, WHY we are having the bond, and the PROS and CONS of voting for and against it.

    It is perfectly fine to me that people vote either way. But it is very important to me that they know the consequences of that vote.

    Hope this helps.

    • Dean
      Dean says:

      Harold,
      I stand corrected. However, as I pointed out, Cary continued to grow and property tax revenues have increased by $10 million over the past 4 years.

      I did read the bond descriptions. I don’t particularly like the “and other things” for the roads bond. Because I suspect the “other things” is the mass transit items trying to be snuck in.

      As for the trailways. I see the construction on High House and Maynard every day. I see a wavy sidewalk, where every other side walk is straight. I see a new trail, when the existing side walk to Bond Park worked fine (I’ve walked it). I see a guard rail on a median that had a change of basically turning plants to concrete. I see wasted money.

      For the fire station. How much could be saved if it wasn’t designed by some green agenda lover? But, has there been serious thought as if building fire stations is the correct action, when there are plenty of vacant commercial buildings that can be used. Police cars have no problem hanging out in parking lots, fire trucks shouldn’t have an issue either.

      What is the Town of Cary doing wrong now, that after 23 years they have to raise property taxes?

  5. Harold
    Harold says:

    Dean,

    Thanks for replying once again.

    You noted that property tax revenues have increased. Please understand that the other side of the equation, expenses, have also increased including water, sewer, fire protection, and police. AND we haven’t raised taxes in almost a quarter of a century. We DO have the lowest tax rate in Wake County with the highest quality of life. We run a very efficient town with 8 1/2 employees per thousand residents as compared to the 11 employees as the average. In fact we are the best in that ratio of the 7 largest cities in the state.

    The bonds are specifically laid out and I can assure you that Cary is NOT hiding anything such as including transit with the bonds.

    The items you mention are a value judgement (thus the vote). For example, I think having a fire station that is crumbling is a bad thing but you might think it is OK. I think there is 100% justification for a new fire station whereas you might think that they can make do with what they have. I might think fire protection is extremely important (having experienced my house burning down in 2002) whereas you might think it is a small thing and not worth the money. My point is that it is a value judgement and that is why we are putting it to a vote.

    If you go to our website it explains many of the questions you ask.

    It is my hope that you and others will visit carybonds.org and educate yourselves about the bond and then vote your beliefs. I will be perfectly happy doing the peoples will. That is what I am sworn to do.

    Take care,
    Harold

Comments are closed.