Harold’s Blog: Transportation Plans, Cary Fire Department and More

Cary, NC – This week was mostly meetings with a couple of events.

Monday – Preparing for the Week

Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. Topics included a potential bond referendum, downtown businesses, the land development ordinance, the mall site, and the Fenton site. Our meeting lasted about 45 minutes.

Later Monday I met with the Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. We talked about several things such as Cary businesses, potential class A office sites, and Cary’s diverse population. Our meeting lasted about half an hour.

Tuesday – Diwali Preparation

Tuesday I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Bush, Cultural Arts Director Collins, and Parks Director Rainey in a meeting with a group from Hum Sub to talk about a performance at this year’s Diwali in October. It was decided that there would be two groups of four dancers, one from Cary and one from Morrisville. We will each have a separate group dance and then all will join for a grand finale. We will begin practicing in May.

Wednesday – Transportation Plans

Wednesday I participated in a meeting with CAMPO staff, CAMPO Vice Chair, NCDOT programming staff, Deputy Transportation Secretary, NC Rail, and others to go over STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program) projects planned for the next 10 years. Most of the conversation was on projects that would be delayed or accelerated. The projects discussed that impacted Cary the most were:

  • The US1 – I40 Interchange project will likely be delayed.
  • The Harrison Avenue bridge project is already programmed. Despite my urging for the project to be removed from the STIP and my explaining there is no chance that Cary Council will change their mind they want to keep it in year 10. They seem to think we might change our minds once commuter rail starts and traffic is blocked more frequently. I explained that we would be more likely to move the rail station or build one of the other bridges over the rail tracks than build that bridge. Anyway, it will be in year 10 and stay in year 10 indefinitely.
  • The Trinity Road Rail Bridge and Maynard Rail Bridge projects will likely change. They had Trinity scheduled for 2028 and Maynard for 2023. I expressed a desire for those projects to be flip flopped. I explained the nightmare that would be created if the Maynard crossing were closed without an alternative. They believe they can come up with funds to do both at the same time. That way either the new Trinity Bridge or Maynard would always be opened. So it is likely that both will begin in the 20223 timeframe.

Our staff, NCDOT, and CAMPO staff will schedule a meeting sometime in May to talk about the rail bridges in Cary.

Thursday – Cary Fire Department

Thursday I had the honor and privilege of attending the Cary Fire Department’s 24th graduation ceremony and 7th awards ceremony. Fifteen recruits received their badges and became Cary Firefighters. Sixty-three firefighters received awards and recognitions.

Cary Mayor

Words can’t possibly express the appreciation I have for these men and women. They are trained not only to put out fires but to save your life. They are the best of the best. And when most people are running from danger they are running towards it. They ARE heroes in every sense of the word. Thanks to all firefighters for all they do and especially for Cary firefighters who love and care for their community so much. God bless them all!

Friday – North Carolina Mayors

Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is the summary from the Executive Director:

Opening Remarks

Special recognition and concerns were expressed for the Durham community and the City of Durham staff (firefighters and police especially) who were impacted by the tragic gas explosion this week.  Quick reaction and decisive leadership by Durham first responders and the orders to evacuate saved untold lives.

The General Assembly is still focused healthcare as the House continues to work through the budget.  Prominent hearings on windmills in military fly-zones, job incentives legislation to retain a large “heritage manufacturer” in the Charlotte region and a hearing on limiting local tree ordinances.

Weekly TOPICS INCLUDED:

Transportation

No major activity in the General Assembly on transportation.

Local Revenues/ Local Control

S650 Simplifying NC Local Sales Tax Distribution – includes a shift in the balance of a portion of the sales tax to a 50/50 per capita/point of destination distribution from the current 25/75 split.  We are in a research and data gathering phase on this bill.  Local sales tax revenue in NC has a long history that includes several important adjustments that are now outdated or have outlived their original intent.

Given the importance of this bill – and the complexity of how the local sales tax revenues are distributed amongst the counties and municipalities, we focused this week’s call on a special presentation on the first two cents local sales tax in NC are collected and distributed.  This basic understanding will be especially important because SB650 also addresses many of the “adjustment factors” that have caballed together over the last three decades.

SPECIAL PRESENTATION – ELEMENTS of the local sale tax in NC – refer to two HANDOUTS

Introduction – the Coalition has been keenly monitoring activity on sales tax legislation since 2015.  That was the year when the General Assembly debated proposed legislation that was designed to shift more local sales tax revenues away from a point of destination distribution to one that distributes local sales tax based on population.  The 2015 proposal shifted revenue from where sales take place to a population based distribution and is generally viewed as more favorable to rural, less prosperous counties that do not have the same level economic activity and retail sales as more prosperous urban/suburban counties – that is why it is often referred to as a “redistribution of sales tax.”

Today’s discussion was focused on these FIRST TWO CENTS of local sales tax that are impacted by this proposed “redistribution” – the two cents which are levied in all 100 counties.  There are two additional LOCAL OPTION sales taxes – a quarter cent for available to all counties, not shared with municipalities; and, a special half cent for public transportation available to four specific counties.  These are separate from the first two cents – and neither are impacted by Senate Bill 650.

Refer to Handout titled NC Local Option Sales and Use Tax; presented by Nelson Freeman, Kilpatrick Townsend

  • Articles 39, 40, 42 – refer to the handout that outlines the elements of each of the three primary and universally enacted 2 cents local sales.  These are levied by counties and distributed to counties based on state enacted methods in each Article (see handout).  The first full cent – Article 39 – is distributed to counites based on point of destination, the second ½ cent (Article 40) is distributed by population and second ½ cent (article 42) is distributed by point of destination.

The two cents of local sales tax revenues are distributed to each county and are then divided between the county government and municipal governments in each county.

Adjustments to Local Sales Tax Distributions – Refer to Handout titled S650, Simplifying NC Local Sales Tax Distribution); presentation led by Chris Nida, Director of Research and Policy Analysis, NC League of Municipalities:

  • Unprepared Food Sales Tax – a portion of sales taxes from grocery store sales are currently distributed to counties and municipalities based on a formula derived from the proportions of those food sales in each county in 1997.   Current version of SB650 repeals this.
  • Point of Sale/Destination Adjustment – in the 1980’s the State Legislature decided to create an adjustment that set aside a portion of local sales tax to counties and towns that were adversely impacted by the “loss of sales” for goods purchased in one county (point of sale) and shipped to another (point of destination). Then in 2001, NC joined a national compact related to internet-based sales that required a shift to point of destination instead of point of sale.  Despite this 2001 change to a sales tax to counties by point of destination, the original “adjustment” in the 1980’s was left in place.  Thus, the basis for this 1980’s “adjustment” has not been germane since 2001. Current version of SB650 repeals this.
  • Medicaid Swap Adjustment for Municipalities – in 2007 legislation was enacted to relieve counties of the responsibility to pay a share of Medicaid healthcare services (cities did not pay this cost), a burden that had an inordinately negative impact on less prosperous and rural counties. The General Assembly had the State relieve counties from their share of onerous Medicaid payments, but to help the State pay for this cost it also shifted a ½ cent of local sales tax from counties to the state in a deal that generally benefitted county governments.  However, since cities share local sales taxes with counties, they stood to lose funds as the State took a ½ cent local sales tax without cities benefiting from the “Medicaid payment swap.   So, the 2007 state law required the counties to “hold harmless” all the cities and towns in their county by paying those municipalities an annually updated amount to cover this loss of sales tax.  The current version of SENATE BILL 650 DOES NOT CHANGE THIS “HOLD HARMLESS” for MUNICIPALITIES
  • 2015 Redistribution – During the 2015 Legislative session the General Assembly debated a local sales tax redistribution bill that would have shifted the entire two cents to a per capita distribution, described by many as an effort to help less prosperous and rural counties by shifting sales taxes from where sales taxes are generated to a per capita distribution.  While that effort was not fully enacted, the Legislature did create a special sale tax distribution “adjustment” of approximately $95m derived from all 100 counties and distributed by a percentage formula to 79 counties that would have benefitted from a per capita redistribution. Current version of SB650 repeals this.

The Metro Mayors Coalition and the NC League of Municipalities will work with the bill sponsors and General Assembly staff to fully analyze the impact of the proposed bill – it is not simple.  The various arcane adjustments associated with local sales taxes are complex and this bill’s impact on those require careful analysis.  It is noteworthy that this is a different bill than was debated in 2015.  References to the impact of the 2015 proposals may not be fruitful – the current proposal to repeal the various adjustments means references to the 2015 bill and its fiscal impact are not necessarily accurate or helpful at this juncture.

SO – at this time, we recommend that you continually communicate to your legislative delegation that ANY local revenue legislation cannot have a negative impact on our cities, and it SHOULD PROVIDE BADLY NEEDED RESOURCES to improve our INFRASTRUCTURE.  Working with the NC League of Municipalities, we hope to have a fiscal analysis soon. Once that is prepared, we will do a special call with your city fiscal and budget staff to review the potential impacts and then further discuss our approach to the bill.

S367 Clarify Property Owner’s Rights – Tree ordinance bill.  Heard and passed in Senate State and Local Committee and referred to Senate Judiciary.  Cities should look at their ordinances and any existing legislative authorization for your city to determine the impact on your tree ordinance. This bill has been amended, deleting some of more onerous requirements in the original bill, but would still require ALL new ordinances (and presumably substantive amendments to existing ordinances that are currently legislatively authorized) to seek legislative approval/authorization – a pre-emption of local flexibility for tree ordinances.

NEXT WEEK- we will review S355, Land Use Regulatory Changes

Public Safety

Nothing new to report

Economic Development 

Nothing new to report

Saturday – Downtown Cary Farmers Market

Saturday I was scheduled to officially open the Downtown Farmers Market. Due to bad weather this was cancelled but it is now open for the season. Our Downtown Farmers’ Market has done an excellent job of promoting community pride for over 20 years. It is an opportunity for our citizens to buy local and being educated on the nutritional benefits. A crucial component of overall wellness is a wholesome, healthy diet. Thanks to the Downtown Cary Farmers’ Market we have that opportunity right in the heart of our town.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

US 64 Improvements

NCDOT held a community meeting with 16 residents of Balmoral on Tuesday, April 2. The project team shared updated information on the US 64 roadway design at Edinburgh Drive. Residents voiced concerns about the potential width of US 64, traffic going through their neighborhood, increased noise and loss of trees. Town staff requested clarification from the project team on several items including the potential removal of trees adjacent to Balmoral, location of retaining walls and key information related to roadway safety improvements. A public meeting is scheduled on Tuesday, May 14 from 4-7pm at Summit Church in Apex.

Cary Mayor

Proposed Gas Line at ATT

A new 12-inch gas line is being proposed within the American Tobacco Trail (ATT) corridor. NCDOT notified Wake County who alerted us due to Cary operating the 4.67-mile corridor in Chatham County. We recently received the a PowerPoint presentation of which we have provided the most critical slides with information on the proposed gas line. Cary staff is planning to work with County and NCDOT staff on the proposed project. Paul Kuhn is contact for Cary.

Cary Mayor

Artsforce 2019

Sixteen Cary Cultural Organizations gathered at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center for ARTSFORCE 2019. The Cultural Arts Committee sponsors this annual gathering for organizations to learn more about board sustainability, best practices for fund-raising and volunteer development. Panelists included the Executive Director of Raleigh Little Theatre, former Director of Arts North Carolina and other organizational consultants. Participants also got a preview of the Downtown Park plan.

Cary Mayor

Pressure Zone Boundary Shifts Complete

On Tuesday, the water pressure increased 45 psi for approximately 1,200 homes in and around the Preston Village and Heritage Pines neighborhoods. Unique to this pressure zone shift, leaks occurred at four aging water valves, revealing vulnerabilities that had to be addressed during the operation. Regrettably, while we were making these repairs, nearby residents experienced temporary water outages.

Field staff also responded to eight homes where minor leaks were reported. The leaks were stopped, and staff provided guidance to resolve the issues. This small number of plumbing leaks is likely the result of the 80 percent of homeowners who requested and received a free pressure check to help them prepare for the change.

Overall, the operation succeeded in simplifying the pressure zone boundary by distinguishing NC 55 as the unequivocal dividing line between the Western and Central Pressure Zones (helpful for system operation, maintenance and emergency repairs) and providing the additional water pressure that many in this area had long desired.

With the completion of this operation, approximately 6,000 homes in the Davis Drive/NC 55 corridor have been shifted from the Western Pressure Zone to the Central Pressure Zone over the last two years. The next phase of our strategic plan to increase water system resiliency will occur this summer when the Good Hope Elevated Water Storage Tank is put into service.

24th Firefighter Academy 

Fifteen new firefighters have joined the ranks of Cary’s brave man and women who serve our citizens faithfully. After eight weeks of intensive training, the recruits of Academy 24 graduated in a joint ceremony with this year’s promotion class and award winners. Thirteen firefighters were promoted to advanced ranks, four individual and unit citations were issued and 39 members were recognized for professional or academic achievements. The event brought a capacity crowd to the Arts Center on a beautiful evening in downtown Cary.

Median Planting

Public Works roadside crews started prepping this Regency Parkway median on Tuesday for a much-needed planting project near the main parking lot for Koka Booth Amphitheatre. They planted and mulched on Wednesday and watered on Thursday. Plantings included black-eyed susans, white phlox and meadow sage. The planting project cost approximately $2,500.

Cary Mayor

Triangle’s Got Talent

On April 6, the Cary Teen Council hosted the 4th annual Triangle’s Got Talent at The Cary. Fifteen teen acts were invited to showcase their talents by singing, dancing, playing the saxophone and more. Proceeds from admission and raffle ticket sales ($1,246) were donated to the Lucy Daniels Center.

Cary Mayor

Gardening Education

Good Hope Farm has been bringing garden education to our local school children via a partnership with AmeriCorps and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina. Five composting worm bins have been placed in third grade classrooms at Highcroft Dive Elementary School over the past month. “I love helping students understand our food system and their role in it,” said Anna, the AmeriCorps worker for 2019 at Good Hope Farm, “and I’m gaining valuable career experience along the way.” With programs like this, Cary students learn important lessons on environmental stewardship and how they can make a difference in their community.

Cary Mayor

Technology Executive Council

Nicole Raimundo, Chief Information Officer, has been invited to join the CNBC Technology Executive Council. This week, she attended the inaugural Technology Executive Council dinner in New York. The dinner started with a fireside chat with Initialized Capital co-founder and managing partner & Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, moderated by CNBC Squawk Alley co-anchor Jon Fortt. Table discussions led by CNBC journalists included key topics such as Digital Transformation, Talent Pipeline, the Role of Government and Regulation, and Global Competition.

From public and private corporations to nonprofits and government entities, the CNBC Technology Executive Council comprises top tech executives who are transforming organizations by leveraging innovation and disruption. This high-profile group includes technology leaders from corporate giants including Lenovo, General Motors, Citi, Gap, Salesforce, Adobe, Symantec, and more. Public sector members include individuals from Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Dutchess County Government, State of New Jersey, University of Pennsylvania, and Town of Cary, NC.

What a prestigious honor for Nicole and Cary to be selected for the leading role we are taking in innovation in technology in local government. More information about the CNBC Technology Executive Council can be found at cnbc.com/tec.

Reducing Teen Car Crashes

On Saturday, April 6, Cary PD’s Traffic Safety Team Officers Hageter and Cohen joined officers from around Wake County to participate in Teen-Day Fuquay. Hosted annually by the Fuquay-Varina Police Department, Teen-Day Fuquay is a free, hands-on learning experience to help teens understand that distracted and impaired driving can have devastating consequences. Wake County teenage drivers generated 5,800 motor vehicle crash in 2017, and motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens across the U.S – six kids per day. Working together through mutual aid agreements, Wake County Law Enforcement Officers join forces frequently to promote safe and sober driving in the greater Wake County area.

Cary Mayor

Stormwater Workshop

Cary hosted a workshop on April 11 on operation and maintenance of Stormwater Control Measures (SCM’s). There are over 1,250 SCM’s on private property in Cary that must be maintained and annually inspected.  More than 60 participants represented a diverse group of stakeholders (property owners, management companies, engineers, contractors and inspectors). Charles Brown, Stormwater Program Analyst, provided background on Cary’s stormwater program which oversees SCM’s as a requirement of our NPDES Phase 2 permit. The purpose of the workshop was not only to provide information about the program, but also to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to interact, discuss issues and exchange ideas.

Partnering with Builders to Enhance Building Safety

Cary Code Enforcement Officials Steve Edwards, Bob Smith, Saadeh Jallad and Doug Beninate joined Cliff Isaac from the NC Department of Insurance for a presentation to 57 members of Lennar’s Construction Management Team. The presentation covered the framing component of the building and inspection process to help better prepare them to pass framing inspections. Aside from the covering the technical material of the code, there were some great conversations and an overall understanding that we are all working together towards the same goal of building safe homes for our citizens. This presentation will be offered to other builders as we see this as helping to build stronger relationships with our building community.

Cary Road Race

The 41st Cary Road Race took place on Saturday, April 6. It was a great day with over 900 participants in the 5 Mile and 5K races and over 100 participants in the Fun Run.

Cary Mayor

BMX Freestyle Event

On Saturday, April 6, Cary hosted NC BMX Series Stop II at Sk8-Cary, the only internationally sanctioned Olympic-points earning Freestyle BMX event in the USA in 2019. It attracted athletes from 12 countries, with one of the largest turnouts of female competitors in any internationally-sanctioned event. There were 39 Elite and 27 Amateur competitors, drawing a crowd of over 320 to Godbold Park. In the 18-year history of Cary’s skate park, this is the largest action sports event ever hosted in the Triangle.

Cary Mayor

Technology Initiative Update

DocuSign was onsite the week of April 1 to kick-off our engagement. Taking advantage of a unique opportunity with other strategic partners, Wednesday’s focus was a “meeting of the minds” with DocuSign, Box Transform, and G&H. Having each team onsite at the same time allowed Dan Ault to lead a discussion on strategic alignment and the OneCary vision. Staff representation included the R&D team and staff members from Finance, IT, and HR. Thursday’s focus were on DocuSign Fundamentals training, led by our Customer Success Architect. Almost 100 staff engaged to learn the basics of the platform and brainstorm future use cases.

High School Baseball Invitational

The Town of Cary and USA Baseball partnered to once again host the National High School Invitational (NHSI) at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. This year marks the 8th consecutive year co-hosting the NHSI with USA Baseball. Annually, the NHSI brings in the top 16 high school programs in the United States. This year’s teams represented ten different states, including the host school from Greensboro, Northwest Guilford High School.

Twenty-nine games were played during the four-day tournament. Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, California) bested Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, California) to win the Championship. Saturday’s Championship game filled the stands with 1,200 spectators and over 100 college and major league scouts watching some of the best amateur talent on the field.

Cary Mayor

Prior to the Championship game, USA Baseball and the Town of Cary offered a free “Play Ball” clinic that was enjoyed by more than 280 Town of Cary youth participants. A food truck rodeo was organized in the parking lot prior to the game. Cary supplied a fire truck and police vehicle for display, too, which was a hit for the younger kids attending the event.

Dancing the Night Away

Friday, April 5th was a wonderful evening filled with lots of dancing, picture taking and FUN at the annual Rock the Red Carpet Dance, a prom style event for friends who participate in Specialized Recreation programs. Teen Council members, volunteers, staff and our DJ and Photo Booth attendant all had a blast ensuring that this evening was extra special.

Recognitions

As detailed in this Cary Magazine article, Cary’s Team of the Year (Armando Bake, Elizabeth Pearson, Rachel Baranski, and Sam Trogdon), continues working to increase trauma awareness and resilience in our community. Resilient people build strong relationships at home, school and work.

Also in Cary Magazine, “Making Friends after 55” features the Cary Senior Center. Kudos to Jenean Todd for the great trips she organizes to bring our citizens together and build community.

Corporal Donna Pell and Corporal Ashlee Dean graduated from Methodist University’s West Point Leadership Program. The West Point Leadership Program (WPLP) is adapted for non-military students directly from the Military Leadership Course that all cadets at the United States Military Academy complete in their third year of study. WPLP is an academically rigorous course that relies heavily on the case study method of learning. The course examines and integrates leadership in organizations from four perspectives: the individual, the group, the leader and the organization. Congratulations to Corporal Pell and Corporal Dean for their successful completion of this challenging program and their willingness to expand and build on their leadership skills.

Advisory Board Meetings

Athletic Committee

Mon, 4/15, 6pm

Town Hall Conf Rm 11130

History Committee/Cary150 Task Force

Wed, 4/17, 3pm

Town Hall Conf Rm 11130

Greenway Committee

Thur, 4/18, 6pm

Bond Park Boathouse

Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A general complaint about road work signs and that they should be worded to say “road works in progress” (It is my understanding that NCDOT determines verbiage of signs)
  • A complaint about the hiring of the Housing and CDBG manager (Cary has had a housing and CDBG program for years. This person replaces someone who left)
  • A complaint about animal control and the death of a goose (Animal control is working with this individual)
  • A concern that exposed gas meters on sidewalks could cause a disaster in Cary and other communities like Durham’s.
  • A complaint from a developer about inspections and permits (The deputy town manager is working with this individual about his outstanding issues)
  • A complaint about a water main project on Wimberly Road (Staff has responded and is working with this individual)

Next week’s activities will include staff meetings, a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, a joint work session with Morrisville, a CAMPO meeting, a State of Cary Address at Glenaire, a legislative update, and a water tank climbing event.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, April 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 augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht and Hal Goodtree.