Cary, NC — It has been a couple of weeks since my last post due to a two week vacation.
Unfortunately, my vacation was cut short by the death of my friend Alok Sharma. Alok was committed to serving his community. Not only did he serve on the Committee for the Future but was involved in many other activities such as creating scholarships for children and raising money for cancer. I will miss him not only as a community leader but as a friend.
Rest in peace, Alok.
On Saturday, June 6, 2015 I attended a walk to commemorate greenways in Cary. We walked around the Tryon Lake which is part of the Speight Branch Greenway. It is also the sight of a future park. On Sunday, I attended the Panther Creek High School graduation. About 600 seniors received their diplomas in about 50 minutes. That was impressive.
Monday, it was back to work and back to normal duties as mayor.
Since it was a regularly scheduled council meeting week, I attempted to contact all council members to hear their concerns about the upcoming agenda. I was able to contact all members but Robinson and Frantz. Most of the questions and concerns had to do with the proposed changes to the downtown park.
Then, later in the day, I met with management, legal, administration, and public information to go over the agenda items. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.
Later Monday, I met with the town manager over a few items, none of which were critical. One item we talked about could be very exciting news later this year if it pans out. My last meeting of the day was my quarterly meeting with the town attorney. We talked about several items including the Interbasin Transfer case and the progress on hiring the town’s third attorney.
Tuesday, I had the joy and pleasure of attending the graduation ceremony for Cary High School or, as they refer to it, THE Cary High School. I was joined on stage by several school board members, Superintendent Merrill and council member Frantz. Close to 500 graduates walked across the stage. As usual, it was a great ceremony. Congratulations to the Class of 2015.
Wednesday, I met with an individual interested in running for office in a Wake County municipality. I provided information about what it takes to run for office and be in office. Our meeting lasted a little less than an hour.
Thursday, the council held their second work session on the budget.
Budget Work Session
The work session began with the announcement by the town manager that sales tax on electricity was $1.9 high than expected. This additional revenue was $153,000 short of making up for the previously proposed one cent increase to make up for revenue lost with the elimination of the Privilege License Tax. As a result of the additional revenue, the town manager’s proposed budget will only have a two cents increase to pay for the voter approved 2012.
If the budget is approved with this recommendation, the town will have a rate of 37 cents per $100 of property value, keeping us at the lowest tax rate in Wake County. The council unanimously supported this recommendation to be added to the proposed budget.
Capital Budget Work Session
The next part of the work session was to review items brought up at the capital budget work session. The majority of council decided to eliminate about $820,000 from the proposed sidewalk projects and to put those funds toward the intersection improvements at Carpenter Upchurch and Morrisville Parkway. After next year’s improvements, the sidewalk backlog will be about $40 million.
The last item of the work session was on the operating budget. The items discussed included adding crossing guards at additional elementary schools and middle schools, whether or not to spend $60,000 on Open Data and dozens of items reviewed at an October work session.
Council decided that crossing guards at additional elementary schools and middle schools should be evaluated as part of next year’s budget. In addition, council decided to look at options to cut operations by $60,000 to fund Open Data.
That will be decided at the June 16th budget work session. Our budget work session concluded after about 2 hours. Council will vote on the budget at our June 25th meeting.
Thursday night, the council held a regularly scheduled council meeting.
Public Hearings & Discussions
There were three public hearings and four discussion items. The council approved the rezoning request on Wakena Road to allow 3.1 units an acre for 14 acres. As part of the approval, the applicant agreed not to submit any plans until late next year. This would mean that the first homes would be built in late 2017. That will allow time for elementary and high schools to be built. In addition, other developments in the area will improve the roads.
The Downtown Park
Council also agreed on changes to the bid for the downtown park. That is, council decided that brick should be used for walls instead of concrete panels, which will save about $600,000.
The remainder of the difference with the lowest bid will be around $500,000, which will be funded out of the pay as you go capital reserve, which currently has a balance of about $40 million. This reserve is designated for special projects that will have a significant impact on the town.
The last item discussed at the council meeting was whether or not to provide public parking on a town owned property located on Cedar Street. The estimated worst case scenario has the cost at $20,000 per space, which includes tearing down the existing structure and creating parking spaces. The best case scenario would have that cost at about $10,000 per space.
This parking is strategically located close to the new brewery, the new office building being built and the Cary Theater. After much discussion, the council approved the proposal with a five-to-one vote. The meeting concluded after about an hour and a half.
Friday, I participated in a meeting of the NC Metro Mayors. The purpose was to discuss current legislative items and the impact it would have on municipalities. The main part of the discussion focused on the sales tax redistribution currently being considered which could have a huge impact on some municipalities such as Durham. The meeting lasted about 45 minutes.
Saturday started with a big political fundraiser that included a couple hundred people. These types of events will become more numerous as fall approaches.
Koka Booth’s 15th Year Celebration
Saturday night, I attended the 15th year celebration of the Amphitheater. I was joined by former mayors Booth and Lang. The evening began with a reception that included dozens of people who were part of getting the amphitheater built and getting the symphony to call it their summer home. After the reception, the former mayors and the President of the Symphony joined me in making comments on the stage before the symphony began its show.
It’s hard to believe that it has been fifteen years.
Sunday, I attended a few matches of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association. I was able to see the U.S. men’s and women’s play. It was a joy to watch, and I actually started figuring out most of the rules. It reminded me of backyard tackle football as I was growing up.
These guys and gals were big and fast and hit each other like they do in American football but without pads. It was great to have this event in Cary and I hope we can attract future events.
Emails from Citizens
Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about the golf course ordinance, a complaint about the proposed budget, a complaint about a neighbor’s yard filled with junk and a question about the town’s ordinance on pyrotechnics.
Get in Touch
Next week’s activities will include a meeting of the Wake County mayors, a budget work session, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and a speaking event at Highcroft Elementary.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, June 21st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo by Jessica Patrick.
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