Category: Board of Aldermen

July 20th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Aldermen meet on Tuesday. Here’s the full agenda with background information (downloadable PDF).

Among items on the agenda are:

  • Presentation on the North Carolina Global TransPark.
  • Presentation by the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern on a Proposed Offer to Purchase 703 Carolina Avenue.

Here’s the basic agenda:

CITY OF NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING JULY 24, 2018 – 6:00 P.M. CITY HALL COURTROOM 300 POLLOCK STREET

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call.

Consent Agenda

3. Consider Adopting a Proclamation Recognizing Tabari Wallace.

4. Consider Adopting a Proclamation for Prostate Cancer Awareness.

5. Approve Minutes.

********************

6. Presentation on the North Carolina Global TransPark.

7. Presentation by the Housing Authority of the City of New Bern on a Proposed Offer to Purchase 703 Carolina Avenue.

8. Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Amendment to Article II “Definitions” and Article XIV “Streets and Sidewalks” of Appendix A “Land Use” of the Code of Ordinances.

9. Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Amendment to Section 15-15 “Basic Definitions and Interpretations” of Article II of Appendix A “Land Use” of the Code of Ordinances.

10. Submission of Tax Collector’s Annual Settlement for Tax Year 2017.

11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Conservation Easement at Martin Marietta Park.

12. Consider Adopting a Resolution Accepting Ownership and Maintenance of Certain Streets within Hardee Farms Subdivision.

13. Consider Adopting a Resolution Accepting Ownership and Maintenance of Certain Sections of Old Airport Road (SR 1111 and SR 1997).

14. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending Chapter 70 “Traffic and Vehicles” of the Code of Ordinances.

15. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Adopt a Schedule of Stop Intersections as Defined in Section 70-99 of the Code of Ordinances.

16. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Adopt a Schedule of Maximum Speed Limits as Defined in Sections 70-132 through 70-135 of the Code of Ordinances.

17. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2018-19 Grants Fund Operating Budget.

18. Appointment(s).

19. Attorney’s Report.

20. City Manager’s Report.

21. New Business.

22. Closed Session.

23. Adjourn.

 

INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES REQUIRING SPECIAL ASSISTANCE SHOULD CALL 639-7501 NO LATER THAN 3 P.M. THE DATE OF THE MEETING

Posted in Board of Aldermen, New Bern

June 22nd, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
JUNE 26, 2018 –  6 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM 300 POLLOCK STREET

Download Agenda with Backup Materials

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

June 13th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin
Mayor Dana Outlaw declares the first and second motions dead based on lack of seconds. Alderman Sabrina Bengel promptly followed up with another motion that passed on a 4-1 vote.

 

Newly elected aldermen outvoted their more senior colleagues on Tuesday, initiating a more lenient utility rate deposit policy that takes effect July 1 but is not retroactive.

On Alderman Sabrina Bengel’s motion and Alderman Jameesha Harris’ second, the board voted 4-3 for the revised policy, which states:

  • Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed on the first payment arrangement.  Payment arrangements may be billed as installments.  No late penalties or fees will be assessed if the payment plan is adhered to as agreed upon.
  • Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed for the first check returned for insufficient funds.
  • New customers may pay deposits in installments with 50 percent due at the time service is established and the balance payable over four billing cycles.  Payment arrangements are not permitted until the deposit is paid.
  • New residential deposits shall not exceed $500.

Bengel, Harris, and Alderman Barbara Best drafted the policy revisions and were expected to vote for it. The only question was whether there would be a forth vote necessary to pass it.

But Best had new concerns about deposit refunds. At present, security deposits are returned after 18 months of good payments. Even with the revised policy, one payment arrangement would restart the 18 month period before the deposit is refunded to the customer.

Best argued that one payment arrangement should not prevent a customer from receiving a refund after one 18-month period.

Harris went the entire opposite direction. She said by reducing the security deposit to $500, it puts the city at further financial risk. She argued that security deposits should be returned only when a customer leaves the city.

Alderman Bobby Aster, a potential swing vote, questioned whether that would be fair, saying the city would then be holding onto deposits for years or decades.

Harris made the initial motion, which did not get a second, mainly because of wording issues.

Bengel made a second motion that would have allowed customers to have their security deposit refunded after 18 months even if during that time they had made one payment arrangement, provided they completed the payment arrangement during that 18 months.

Harris said she would not support that motion, saying the city should not refund security deposits except when a customer leaves the city.

Perhaps seeing an opportunity to stall the revision of a policy that he implemented during his first term as mayor, Mayor Dana Outlaw declared the two motions dead for lack of being seconded.

He suggested that the board wait before changing the policy. The city has not fully rolled out its advanced utility metering system or a program that allows customers to prepay their bills, he said. The city also has a new utilities director who has not had a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Alderman Jeffrey Odham agreed, saying that changing the policy would be jumping the gun.

Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey, who at first said he liked the Bengel/Harris/Best plan, agreed with Outlaw and Odham.

Undeterred, with Best’s permission, Bengel made another motion, this one free of any mention of deposit refunds, guaranteeing at least the three votes from the committee that drafted the policy revisions. That motion passed, 4-1, with Astor casting the deciding vote.

The financial impact on the city is that it puts up to $72,000 at risk if customers default.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, Utilities

June 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern aldermen on Tuesday will consider a proposal to lessen the severity of the city’s utility deposit policy that has sometimes resulted in four-figure deposits for new customers with less than stellar credit, and soften other rules aimed at existing customers who fall behind in paying their bill.

The recommendations cap the deposit at $500 for new residents, rather than the sum of the two highest bills rung up by the previous resident. It also won’t kick in the first time when a customer who has fallen behind asks for a payment arrangement, or the first time a customer’s check bounces.

Payments could also be billed as installments.

The city’s utility deposit has been controversial from the start (it was instituted in 2014), putting low- and moderate-income individuals and small businesses struggling to make ends meet in further financial distress. However, it has helped the city reduce the rate of bad debt write-offs, and earned the city a coveted top rating from an agency that virtually no one in New Bern outside city hall cares about.

At its May 8, meeting, the Governing Board established a working group consisting of aldermen Sabrina Bengel, Jameesha Harris and Barbara Best to meet with the Director of Finance to discuss the utility deposit.

As a result of the group’s discussions, the following changes are recommended for residential customers effective July 1:

  • Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed on the first payment arrangement.  Payment arrangements may be billed as installments.  No late penalties or fees will be assessed if the payment plan is adhered to as agreed upon.
  • Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed for the first check returned for insufficient funds.
  • New customers may pay deposits in installments with 50 percent due at the time service is established and the balance payable over four billing cycles.  Payment arrangements are not permitted until the deposit is paid.
  • New residential deposits shall not exceed $500.
  • These changes are not retroactive.A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance is attached and provides additional, pertinent information. (See Backup)

The agenda item calls for a discussion, and it takes four votes of the seven-member board to pass an item that has been moved for consideration.

Assuming that Bengel, Harris, and Best vote for the policy (since they are the ones who proposed it), it would need only one more vote to pass. It is doubtful that Alderman Jeffrey Odham or Mayor Dana Outlaw would vote for it, since they were the ones who pushed for the existing policy back in 2014. Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey was also on the board that approved the existing policy, but he has shown more willingness to vote with new board members and against the previous status quo.

It is unknown how new Alderman Bobby Aster will vote.

Previous coverage:

https://newbernpost.com/aldermen-plan-special-meeting-for-redevelopment-utility-deposits

https://newbernpost.com/aldermen-order-city-utilities-to-be-more-customer-friendly

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

June 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Note: Links expire when next agenda is posted

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
JUNE 12, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Odham.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
3. Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period. In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda

4. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the May 14, 2018 budget work session and May 22, 2018 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.

********************

5. Recognition of Graduates of Police Academy.
Graduates of the recent Citizens Police Academy will be in attendance to give an overview of their experience.  The latest academy marked the 22nd session that has been held. (See Backup)

6. Discussion of Utility Deposits.
At its May 8, 2018 meeting, the Governing Board established a working group consisting of Aldermen Bengel, Harris and Best to meet with the Director of Finance to discuss the utility deposit.  As a result of the group’s discussions, the following changes are recommended for residential customers effective July 1st:

• Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed on the first payment arrangement.  Payment arrangements may be billed as installments.  No late penalties or fees will be assessed if the payment plan is adhered to as agreed upon.

• Per fiscal year, deposits will not be assessed for the first check returned for insufficient funds.

• New customers may pay deposits in installments with 50% due at the time service is established and the balance payable over four billing cycles.  Payment arrangements are not permitted until the deposit is paid.

• New residential deposits shall not exceed $500.

• These changes are not retroactive.A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance is attached and provides additional, pertinent information. (See Backup)

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving Financing Terms for the Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) Project.
The Board established the ERP Project Fund on November 21, 2017 and adopted a Declaration of Official Intent to Reimburse at that time.  Requests for financing proposals were issued, and the Director of Finance recommends First Citizens Bank be utilized.  While their interest rate of 3.22% is slightly higher than that offered by SunTrust (3.17%), First Citizens allows the loan to be prepaid with no penalty or other fees.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

8. Consider Adopting a Resolution in Support of the Highway 43 Connector Project.
(Ward 6) At the May 22, 2018 Board meeting, Alderman Odham reported on a recent meeting held by the NC Department of Transportation with respect to plans for the Highway 43 Connector.  The proposed resolution relays the City’s support of the DOT plan identified as Alternate #2.  It also requests DOT give consideration to the sound impact on the existing residential neighborhoods of Trent Creek, Arcadia Village and Craeberne Forest. (See Backup)

9. Consider Adopting a Resolution in Support of Changing the Alfred Cunningham Memorial Bridge Schedule.
(Ward 1) Citizens and merchants have expressed concerns about the Alfred Cunningham drawbridge schedule.  The current schedule allows the bridge to open at will or on demand two to three times per hour.  This not only creates traffic congestion, but it is also an inconvenience to motorists, local residents and businesses in and around downtown.  The resolution proposes the schedule be altered to open only on the half hour of every hour. (See Backup)

10. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2017-18 Grants Fund.
The Fire Department has received a $2,000 grant from Petco Foundation for the care of the department’s arson dog.  The budget amendment acknowledges receipt of the grant funds, which requires no match.  A brief memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

11. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amendment to the 2017 Roadway Improvements Project Fund.
The 2017 Roadway Improvements Project Fund was established on July 11, 2017.  On March 13, 2018, the Board approved an agreement with NCDOT to accept ownership and maintenance of sections of Old Airport Road between Taberna Circle and County Line Road.  This budget ordinance will appropriate $1,700,000 for the Old Airport Road project and $800,000 for resurfacing Oaks Road.  Funds for the Old Airport Road project will derive of $687,000 from DOT and $1,013,000 from borrowing proceeds. A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

12. Consider Adopting an Amendment to the Declaration of Intent to Reimburse the 2017 Roadway Improvements Project Fund.
The Board adopted resolutions and Declarations of Intent to Reimburse for the 2017 Roadway Improvements Project Fund on July 11, 2017 in the amount of $250,000 and on September 26, 2017 in the amount of $1,050,000.  Since that time, the Board has further increased the project by an additional $1,813,000.  The total of the project is $2,863,000, and the Declaration of Intent needs to be updated to reflect this amount.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

13. Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Amend Article III. City Water and Sewerage Systems of Chapter 74 “Utilities”.
House Bill 436 was passed by the NC General Assembly in July 2017 to amend Chapter 162A of the General Statutes to add Article 8, System Development Fees.  This amendment provides for uniform authority to implement system development fees for public water and sewer systems in the State.  The City’s Code of Ordinances needs to be amended to establish the water and sewer system development fees and provide the City authority to charge such fees.  A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached. (See Backup)

14. Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Establish the Schedule of System Development Fees and Connection Fees for Water and Sewer Customers.
This relates to the previous item.  Upon its adoption, the proposed ordinance will establish the Schedule of System Development Fees and Connection Fees for water and sewer.  A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached. (See Backup)

15. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Classification Pay Plan for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
Annually, the Board adopts a Classification Pay Plan.  In the past, the pay plan was adopted as part of the annual budget ordinance.  After conferring with Attorney Davis, it has been determined the pay plan should be adopted in the format of a resolution and separate from the budget ordinance.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

16. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending the Schedule of Fees and Charges.
As part of the budget process, the Board annually adopts an Amended Schedule of Fees and Charges to, in part, identify in one place all of the fees charged by the City.  The fees identified in the schedule are included in the revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2018-19 and will be effective July 1, 2018.Please note two schedules are presented for consideration.  One schedule does not reference the utility deposit cap of $500 identified during the discussion on the utility deposit.  The other scheduled does include the deposit cap. A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup 1) (See Backup 2) (See Backup 3)

17. Consider Adopting the Budget Ordinance for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
After extensive review of the Manager’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19, several budget workshops, and an extended public hearing, the changes expressed by the Board have been incorporated into the final budget ordinance for Fiscal Year 2018-19.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli outlines the changes made to the recommended budget. (See Backup)

18. Appointment(s).
(a)  On May 22, 2018, Alderman Kinsey appointed John Leys to fill the seat previously held by Nancy Gray on the Historic Preservation Commission.  Mr. Leys is unable to accept the appointment, and Alderman Kinsey is asked to make a new appointment.  The appointee will serve a three-year term. (See Backup)

(b)  The first tenure of the Community Development Advisory Committee (“CDAC”) is coming to an end, and the members’ terms will expire on June 30, 2018.  Some have expressed a desire to be reappointed, while others have not.  Appointments or reappointments have been made for Wards 1, 2 and 6.  The following appointments are still needed, and the list provided simply reflects the current appointees:

Ward 3:        Marshall Williams

Ward 4:        Vernon Guion (interested in reappointment)

Ward 5:        Dell Simmons (See Backup)

(c)   Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, began work on May 29, 2018.  The previous director was appointed as the City’s Commissioner on the NC Eastern Municipal Power Agency.  The Board is asked to consider appointing Mr. Bauschard to fill this vacancy.  Of note, the City Manager serves as the first alternate commissioner, and Alderwoman Harris serves as the second alternate commissioner. (See Backup)

19. Attorney’s Report.
20. City Manager’s Report.
21. New Business.
22. Closed Session.
23. Adjourn

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern

May 25th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Updated with corrected information about enterprise fund.

Headed into the June 12 meeting during which the Board of Aldermen will actually approve the city budget, as written, the spending plan is good for public safety without raising taxes, but does little to correct deficiencies that make it harder for people with disabilities to live in the city.

The plan calls for the addition of six firefighter positions at the Thurman Road fire house, which will enable the outpost station to more aggressively attack structure fires (and save lives of people trapped in burning buildings) without having to wait for backup from the city’s other stations, downtown and on Elizabeth Avenue.

The city would also hire one additional animal control officer, increasing the ranks of that service by 100 percent (in other words, it goes from one to two).

The city is already in the processing of adding parking enforcement officers downtown, where two-hour parking exists but has not been enforced.

In all, these additions make for a larger uniformed presence in the city.

The city is also planning on numerous paving projects, not the least of which are on Old Airport Road and Trent Road.

And the city would be doing this without raising taxes, instead paying for it with some of the surplus it has been enjoying during recent years.

There is one caveat. Trash pickup would be put into its own enterprise fund and the city will raise the trash fee from $11.75 to $14.75, which will cover its cost.

City trash collection has been losing money (because it could), and the city  has been supplementing the service with about $280,000 a year from its general fund. So there’s that.

Missing from the city roadmap is anything about addressing concerns for the city’s growing population of handicapped people — vision impaired and mobility impaired.

City Hall has no plans to install an elevator, something city leaders committed to do 20 years ago. Instead, wheelchair-bound citizens who want to attend city meetings on the second floor of city hall must be physically pulled up three flights of stairs — and call in advance just for that.

Also missing is anything that would address pedestrian safety for an increasingly busy downtown, where there are no pedestrian crossing signals — especially troublesome for people with vision impairment.

For a city that prides itself in attracting retirees, New Bern does surprisingly little to accommodate people with disabilities. And the current spending plan does nothing to address that.

Contact aldermen or the mayor if you have any comments or questions.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

May 23rd, 2018 by newbernpostadmin
Alderman Barbara Best proposed that board members get a 30 percent raise.

 

Alderman Barbara Best took a brave stand during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, one that critics would accuse her as being self-serving.

Best made a motion for members of the board to receive a 30 percent pay raise over the remainder of their four-year terms in office. It amounts to $2,429 in extra income, bringing their annual pay (except the mayor and mayor pro tem, who each earn more) to just over $10,000 per year.

Aldermen Jameesha Harris and Johnnie Ray Kinsey backed Best’s motion. Aldermen Sabrina Bengel, Bobby Aster, and Jeffrey Odham opposed it. Mayor Dana Outlaw opposed it, too.

Rookie aldermen nearly always are shocked by the amount of time it takes to be an alderman.

“It’s classified as a part-time position, but it’s a full-time job,” Best said. “… I’m quite sure constituents put us in place because they thought we would work hard for them, but I do feel we need to be compensated.”

The last time the board received a raise was in 2008, a 2.5 percent increase amounting to $216 a year. Dallas Blackiston, in his parting comments when he left the board, said he felt the board salaries should be raised to at least $10,000 due to all the work aldermen do.

Bengel said she has a service-oriented heart. “We work very hard, there is no doubt about it. Sometimes you have to do things when you know that you don’t get anything for it.” She said she has been working hard to squeeze every dollar she can find out of the city budget to put that money where it needs attention.

Aster said he could not support a raise of that magnitude without giving all the other city workers something similar.

Outlaw and Odham did not comment beyond casting their “no” votes. I suspect that they don’t need the money and don’t have the stomach to face constituents and city workers who might object to aldermen giving themselves such a steep raise.

The problem with expecting elected representatives to do it for free or token compensation is, only those who are well off through other sources can spend what amounts to a full-time job doing what amounts to volunteer wages.

The best way to discourage young people, people on fixed incomes, and people with low wages from seeking public office, is to make it impossible or nearly impossible for them to serve. The easiest way to accomplish that is by not paying them.

According to Payscale.com, city council members surveyed make $19,309 to $88,084 per year, with a median of $39,908. Alderman Best’s proposed pay raise of $2,429 would bring New Bern aldermen to $10,000 — a paltry sum by comparison.

There’s this notion that only rich people are intelligent and that people who are not wealthy are unintelligent. And of course, you want only intelligent people to serve in elected office.

The truth is, some people find wealth measured differently than in dollars, which could make them well-suited to serve public office were there not the pesky issues of paying the rent and putting food on the table.

Being an alderman is a full-time job and a demanding one, at that. The board should reconsider Best’s proposal and, for those board members who don’t want the money, they don’t have to take it. But for young parents and retirees, a couple of hundred bucks extra a month would make a big difference and not affect the overall city budget by one iota.

The whole issue of pay raises has City Hall in a tizzy. Long-time workers are complaining that they don’t get as much of a raise as newer workers. If measured in percentages, that’s usually true. But as measured in actual dollars, it’s probably not true.

For example, a top tier city official making $100,000 a year (mind you, I’m rounding DOWN to the nearest hundred thousand) gets a 1 percent raise. That means he gets an extra $1,000 a year. A worker making $20,000 a year gets a 2 percent raise. That amounts to $400 a year.

In what world can someone getting a $1,000 a year pay raise say he is getting a smaller raise than someone getting an extra $400 a year?

Of course, there are a lot more people making $20,000 a year, which makes it harder for top tier officials to get that four-figure annual raise they feel they so richly deserve.

At least it isn’t the corporate world, where CEOs on average make 70 times more than their average workers and in some cases 300 times more.

Come on. We’re not talking about a lot of money. Pay the aldermen a little more so that they can pay their bills.

~ Randy Foster / New Bern Post

 

 

 

 

Posted in Board of Aldermen

May 21st, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting agenda. Highlights: Duffyfield Phoenix Project presentation, budget public hearing, Community Development Block Grant public hearing.

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
MAY 22, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

Note: Links expire when the next agenda gets posted. Also, we were having trouble following links; the city website seems to be experiencing a slowdown today.

1.  Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Best.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2.  Roll Call.
Consent Agenda
3.  Considering Approving a Proclamation for the Folds of Honor.
On Saturday, June 9, 2018, the Emerald Golf Club will offer golfers the opportunity to honor the sacrifice of American Heroes by participating in Patriot Golf Day, the primary fundraiser for the Folds of Honor Foundation.  The Foundation provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service members. (See Backup)
4.  Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close the 200-300 Blocks of Middle Street and 300-400 Blocks of Pollock Street on November 4, 2018 for MERCI on Middle.
(Ward 1) Gary Curry, Event Coordinator, and Beth Cooper, Executive Director of MERCI Clinic, have requested the 200-300 blocks of Middle Street and 300-400 blocks of Pollock Street be closed on Sunday, November 4, 2018 from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. for MERCI on Middle.  This is a fundraising event to benefit MERCI Clinic.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached along with a copy of the application. (See Backup)
5.  Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the budget work sessions on May 1-2, 2018 and the regular meeting on May 8, 2018 are provided for review and approval.
********************

6.  Presentation by the Duffyfield Phoenix Project.
As discussed at the May 8, 2018 regular meeting, representatives of the Duffyfield Phoenix Project will make a presentation about their mission and plans.

7.  Conduct a Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
The recommended budget for FY2018-19 was distributed to the Board on April 24, 2018, at which time the highlights were reviewed by the City Manager.  The budget has been made available for public inspection in the City Clerk’s office, at the New Bern-Craven County Library, and on the City’s website.  Budget workshops were conducted on May 1st, 2nd and 14th, all of which are open to the public.  Additionally, an earlier public hearing was held on May 8thto receive comments at that time.  It is anticipated the Board will consider approval of the budget at its June 12, 2018 meeting.

8.  Conduct a Public Hearing on Financing the Drainage Improvements and Garage Relocation Projects and Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Financing.
Capital project funds have been established for the Drainage Improvements Project and the Garage Relocation Project.  A request for proposal was issued on April 26, 2018 seeking financing proposals from 13 banks for a sum not to exceed $2,320,000.  After reviewing the responses, PNC Bank offered the lowest finance charge for the life of the loan with an interest rate fixed at 3.34% with semi-annual, fixed-principal payments over a 10-year period beginning December 2018.  Loan fees are not to exceed $6,750.
Because the two projects involve real property, borrowing must be approved by the Local Government Commission, and an application has been submitted.  Additionally, a public hearing is required pursuant to NCGS §160A-20.  A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, is attached. (See Backup)

9.  Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the 2018-2019 CDBG Annual Action Plan.
The 2018-2019 CDBG Annual Action Plan provides a summary of actions, activities, and specific federal and non-federal resources to be used to address the needs and goals in the Strategic Plan section of the coming year’s Consolidated Plan.  It also serves as the City’s application for funding under the Entitlement Cities program.  The City’s allocation for 2018-19 is $242,771, which is an increase of $18,837 from 2017-18 funding.  These funds will be utilized as follows:  $48,500 for planning and administration, $30,271 for public services, $100,000 for minor housing rehabilitation, $32,000 for voluntary slum and blight removal, and $32,000 for assistance to Community Based Development Organization for construction of two new, affordable housing units.  The proposed plan has been available for public review and comment since April 20, 2018 and will remain available through May 21, 2018.  A memo from Landa Gaskins, Community Development Coordinator, is attached along with a copy of the plan. (See Backup)

10. Consider Adopting a Resolution Awarding a Contract for Rehabilitation and Site Improvements for the VOLT Center Project.
(Ward 1) Bids were received from three contractors for the rehabilitation and construction of the VOLT Workforce Development Center.  All bids were certified by a third-party architectural and construction firm for responsiveness and completeness.  Bruin Builders submitted the lowest bid at $2,310,000, and it is requested the City Manager be authorized to execute a contract with this vendor and approve any change orders within the budgeted project amount.  A memo from Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services, is attached. (See Backup)

11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Sewer-Use Agreement with Brice’s Creek Bible Church.
Brice’s Creek Bible Church plans to build a new facility at 4250 Highway 70 East, which is currently outside of New Bern’s city limits.  The proposed development will have a calculated average daily sewer demand of 2,500 gallons.  To facilitate the development, a standard sewer service connection can be provided to the property without the need for a sewer main extension.  Section 74-74 of the City’s ordinances provides that any proposed development located out of New Bern’s city limits that is requesting water and sewer capacity shall be required to enter into a written water and sewer use agreement.  The purpose of the agreement is to formally outline the roles and responsibilities of both parties in establishing service for the proposed development.  A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached. (See Backup)

12. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Discretionary Fund Policy.
A policy has been drafted to establish guidelines for the Board’s discretionary or “special appropriation” funds.  The funds must be utilized for an authorized public purpose.  Additionally, the process for requesting the funds and approval of the expenditure is outlined in the policy.  During an election year, incumbents may only expend 50% of their ward-appropriated funds prior to December 31st. The Board is asked to review the policy for consideration of approval.  A brief memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

13. Consider Adopting an Amendment to Article III “Noise” of Chapter 26 “Environment” of the Code of Ordinances.
In response to several issues encountered by citizens and an overall need to update the longstanding noise ordinance, an amendment is proposed to address specific concerns.  The amendment essentially provides in C-1 and C-2 zoning districts that amplified, intensified or reproduction of human voice or sound is permissible from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 7 a.m. and 11 pm. on Friday and Saturdays, provided the sound is not clearly audible beyond 50’ from the perimeter of the zoning district.  Scott Davis, City Attorney, will be available to answer any questions about the proposed amendment. (See Backup)

14. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending Chapter 70 “Traffic and Vehicles” of the Code of Ordinances.
Certain streets have been adopted into the city’s road system, and the City’s ordinance needs to be updated to reflect the additional traffic control devices, stop intersections and maximum speed limits for these streets.  The proposed ordinance will reflect this information.
Of note, the Department of Public Works is performing a full audit of Section 70 “Traffic and Vehicles” of the ordinances and will report to the Board at a later time its findings and recommendations for any additional changes.  A memo from Matt Montanye, Director of Public Works, is attached. (See Backup)

15. Appointment(s).
(a)  Nancy Gray has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission as a result of relocating to a different city.  Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill this vacancy.  Ms. Gray’s term will actually expire on May 15, 2018, so the appointee will start a new term instead of simply completing her existing term. (See Backup)
(b)  The first tenure of the Community Development Advisory Committee (“CDAC”) is coming to an end, and the members’ terms will expire on June 30, 2018.  Some have expressed a desire to be reappointed, while others have not.  Each alderman is asked to consider reappointments or new appointments to represent their wards.
The following represents a list of the current CDAC appointees and a notation as to whether those appointees have expressed a desire for reappointment:
Ward 1:  Corinne Corr (interested in reappointment)
Ward 2:  Carol Williams (interested in reappointment)
Ward 3:  Marshall Williams
Ward 4:  Vernon Guion (interested in reappointment)
Ward 5:  Dell Simmons
Ward 6:  Mary Shepard
(See Backup)

16. Attorney’s Report.
17. City Manager’s Report.
18. New Business.
19. Closed Session.
20. Adjourn.

 

Posted in Board of Aldermen

May 9th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Aldermen voted 4-2, with one absent, to create a Redevelopment Commission, with the goal to revitalize the Greater Duffyfield area.

A redevelopment commission in 1960s kickstarted revitalization of downtown New Bern, Mayor Dana Outlaw said. A Metropolitan Services District (MSD) followed and downtown businesses taxed themselves to fund improvements.

The effort, which continues to this day, is widely regarded as one of the most successful downtown redevelopment efforts in the nation.

No one spoke at a public hearing into establishing a Redevelopment Commission during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, but two aldermen, Johnnie Ray Kinsey and Barbara Best, expressed reservations.

Kinsey said he wanted to hear more from the Duffyfield Phoenix Group, a private group that seeks to do many of the same things that a Redevelopment Commission would do.

“I look at the economic engine that is downtown versus the economic engine that they are trying to develop, I don’t know where it is going to go,” Kinsey said.

Sabrina Bengel said she had a meeting with the group, but that it was cancelled. She and Alderman Bobby Aster both expressed dismay that the group was not at Tuesday’s public hearing, since the two efforts share common goals.

Once the commission is created, the Phoenix Group as well as any other individual or group can participate in the process, Bengel pointed out, urging that the board move forward with creating the commission.

“Our city is only good as every single neighborhood, and this neighborhood needs a lot of attention,” she said.

This redevelopment commission is going to be much more than housing, she added.

Kinsey said he wants to listen to the Phoenix Group and see what they have in mind.

“Before you build a house on land, you have to see, does it perk. We have to see if this perks,” he said. “Just give them a chance.”

“I think there will be plenty of opportunities for them to speak,” Aster replied.

Alderman Best said the group approached her and asked that they be placed on the May 22 Board of Aldermen agenda. “The group would like to talk about the mission and that the Phoenix Group is willing to work with the city of New Bern. They were just not ready to present themselves to the board tonight,” she said.

Best said she has some reservations about the redevelopment commission. She said the Phoenix Group has come together and started laid groundwork, putting information out to the residents of the Duffyfield neighborhood and even holding some public meetings.

Alderwoman Jameesha Harris said some of her concerns about a Redevelopment Commission have subsided, and said the Board of Aldermen is not hindering the group.

“All we’re going to do is set up the structure,” she said.

The board voted 4-2 to establish a Redevelopment Commission, with Bengel, Aster, Harris and Mayor Outlaw voting in the majority. Kinsey and Best voted against it. Alderman Jeffrey Odham was absent.

Posted in Board of Aldermen

May 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Aldermen meet this evening to hold a public hearing into how the city will spend taxpayer and user fee money during the next fiscal year.

This is the first budget for the newly coined Board of Aldermen, which met during budget workshops last week that lasted just over 11 hours.

As presented by city staff, the draft budget is fairly status quo and would not result in any additional taxes or fees. However, City Manager Mark Stephens also laid out a number of steps aldermen could take to raise addition revenue to pay for new projects. (Fun fact: “Raise revenue” is boffin-speak for new fees and higher taxes.)

That’s where you come in. This evening’s meeting is when average citizens (that is, those who don’t have board members on speed dial or over for a round of golf) have their say on how the city should spend its money.

During last week’s workshops, which were public but extremely tedious to sit through (video here), board members set up a virtual “parking lot” that includes projects, initiatives and wishes that were not included in the draft budget.

Included in the parking lot are things like $75,000 toward a long-promised community center in the Pleasant Hill community, employee pay raises, aldermen pay raises, and a second animal control officer.

But the biggest thing in the parking lot is $350,000 for six additional firefighter positions that would be based at Fire Station 2 on Thurman Road.

One truck company is based at the station now, but because of OSHA rules, those firefighters can’t enter a burning building until a second truck arrives, usually from the Headquarters Station near downtown New Bern. That could take as long as 10 minutes, an eternity in terms of protecting life and property in a structure fire.

Much of New Bern is well-protected by existing Fire Department manpower and equipment, but the fringes of the city are not. Increasing staffing at Station 2 would plug one gap, but others remain that will have to be addressed over time and as money becomes available.

(A third fire station is on Elizabeth Avenue, covering the north and west ends of New Bern.)

City Hall provides a wide range of services: electric, water and sewer; street maintenance; parks and recreation; law enforcement; fire protection and EMS; and dozens of smaller services.

Keeping it all going while at the same time controlling costs is a challenging thing.

For example, the city operates and maintains 25 parks, many of which are small neighborhood playgrounds. Some of these playgrounds were built in neighborhoods that once crawled with children but are now dominated by senior citizens. City officials estimate about a half dozen city parks go unused.

At the same time, the city has acquired a huge parcel that will become Martin Marietta Park, but work on that won’t commence until the city has secured a $475,000 grant to kickstart plans.

Newly minted City Parks Director Foster Hughes has been rolling out maintenance of city parks, some of which have been sorely neglected for years. Kidsville, a popular wooden playground, has been closed until it can be renovated, for example.

Meanwhile, over in water and sewer, a funny thing happened. The city has been growing at a respectable 2-3 percent, according to city officials, but water usage (and subsequent sewer usage) are declining because of effective water conservation.

At rates seen a decade ago, the city would be looking at expanding water and sewer capacity about now, but conservation has given years of life to existing capacity.

Still, revenue has not increased to match demand. To avoid fee increases, the city will need to maintain its current growth rate of 2-3 percent. A downturn in the economy will force the city to raise fees to make up the difference.

 

Posted in Board of Aldermen, New Bern, New Bern Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, Public works

May 4th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Note: Links expire when next agenda is posted at City Hall.

Regular Board of Aldermen meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Courtroom, 2nd Floor, 300 Pollock Street.

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
MAY 08, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Best.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
3. Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.
Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.
In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda
4. Consider Approving a Proclamation in Support of House Bill 551 for Marsy’s Law.
Kayla Saunders, Field & Digital Director for Mary’s Law for North Carolina, reached out to the Board to request a proclamation in support of Marsy’s Law.  A copy of the request and the proposed Proclamation are attached. (See Backup)
5. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Call for a Public Hearing on the 2018-2019 CDBG Annual Action Plan.
The 2018-2019 CDBG Annual Action Plan provides a summary of actions, activities, and specific federal and non-federal resources to be used to address the needs and goals in the Strategic Plan section of the coming year’s Consolidated Plan.  It also serves as the City’s application for funding under the Entitlement Cities program.  New Bern’s expected resources are identified on page 13 of the plan, and page 15 lists a summary of the goals with a breakdown of funding.  The proposed plan has been available for public review and comment since April 20, 2018 and will remain available through May 21, 2018.  It is requested the public hearing be called for May 22, 2018 to provide a final opportunity for citizens to comment on the draft plan.  A memo from Landa Gaskins, Community Development Coordinator, is attached along with a copy of the proposed plan. (See Backup)
6. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Call for a Public Hearing on Financing the Drainage Improvements and Garage Relocation Projects.
Capital project funds have been established for the Drainage Improvements Project and the Garage Relocation Project.  A request for proposal was issued on April 26, 2018 seeking financing proposals for a sum not to exceed $2,320,000.  Because these projects involve real property, the borrowing must be approved by the Local Government Commission and a public hearing is required pursuant to NCGS §160A-20.  The hearing is proposed for May 22, 2018.  A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, is attached. (See Backup)
7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close the 500 Block of Roundtree Street on July 13, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the Colorfest Community Art Event.
(Ward 2)  Derrick Bryant, President and CEO of Colorfest, Inc., has requested the 500 block of Roundtree Street be closed on Friday, July 13, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for a community art event.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached. (See Backup)
8. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close the 500-600 Blocks of Roundtree Street on August 7, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the Craven Terrace Residents’ National Night Out Celebration.
(Ward 2) Latisha Bell, Resident Services Coordinator for Craven Terrace, has requested the 500-600 blocks of Roundtree Street be closed on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. for a National Night Out celebration.  A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached. (See Backup)
9. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the April 11, 2018 special meeting and April 24, 2018 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.
********************

10. Presentation on 2018 Veterans Standdown.
Lovay Wallace-Singleton, Executive Director of the Veterans Organic Garden, will provide a presentation on this year’s upcoming Veterans Stand-Down. (See Backup)
11. Presentation on Emergency Fire Dispatch.
The first implementation phase of the Emergency Fire Dispatch (“EFD”) system was begun on April 10, 2018 by the Police Department’s Communication Center.  This system was purchased utilizing funds from the NC 911 Board.  Police Captain Bobby Jones and Fire Chief Bobby Boyd will share a video detailing the system. (See Backup)
12. Presentation on GIS Annual Update.
Alice Wilson, GIS Coordinator, will show a PowerPoint presentation on the progress made since the Strategic GIS Plan was approved in March 2015. This presentation will satisfy the plan’s provision for an annual report to the Board of Aldermen. (See Backup)
13. Conduct a Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19.
The recommended budget for FY2018-19 was distributed to the Board on April 24, 2018, at which time the highlights were reviewed by the City Manager.  The budget has been made available for public inspection in the City Clerk’s office, at the New Bern-Craven County Library, and on the City’s website.  Budget workshops were conducted on May 1st and 2nd and an additional workshop is slated for May 14th, all of which are open to the public.  Approval of the budget will be considered at an upcoming Board meeting. (See Backup)
14. Conduct a Public Hearing on the Rezoning of 900 Broad Street and:
a) Consider Adopting a Statement of Zoning Consistency; and
b) Consider Adopting an Ordinance Rezoning 900 Broad Street.
(Ward 1) On behalf of One World Company, LLC, Danny Batten has requested the property at 900 Broad Street be rezoned from a C-4 Neighborhood Business District to a C-3 Commercial District.  The property is an approximately .44-acre parcel near the intersection of Queen and Broad Streets further identified as tax parcel ID 8-008-151.  The board is asked to consider adopting a statement of zoning consistency and an ordinance rezoning the property as requested.  A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached. (See Backup)
15. Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Create a Redevelopment Commission.
As discussed at a special meeting on April 11, 2018, consideration is being given to the creation of a Redevelopment Commission.  The Board is to conduct a public hearing on this issue and then consider adopting an ordinance creating such a commission.  The proposed commission will consist of nine members who are residents of the City of New Bern and appointed by the Board of Aldermen.  Commission members will serve staggered terms with each term being five years.  However, initially two members shall serve a term of five years, two members shall serve a term of four years, two members shall serve a term of three years, two members shall serve a term of two years, and one member will serve a term of one year.  The Governing Board may appoint one or more liaisons from among themselves to attend and participate in the Commission’s meetings, but the liaison(s) shall not have the right to vote.  A liaison may only serve in such capacity during their term on the Governing Board. (See Backup)
16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Professional Services Agreement with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for the Old Airport Road Project.
(Ward 3) In anticipation of widening and improving Old Airport Road between Taberna Circle and County Line Road, a Request for Qualifications was advertised on September 24, 2017 seeking professional services related to right-of-way improvements.  The six responses received were ranked based on qualifications, and Kimley-Horne and Associates Inc. received the highest ranking.  The Board is asked to authorize the City Manager to execute a Professional Services Agreement with Kimley-Horne for the scope of work and services as outlined in the agreement at a cost of $128,540.  A memo from Matt Montanye, Director of Public Works, is attached. (See Backup)
17. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Greenway Trail Easement.
(Ward 4) As part of the 2009 Adopted Pedestrian Plan, the Board is asked to consider adopting a resolution approving a greenway trail easement with Pine Valley, LLC.  This easement was a condition placed by the Board of Adjustment for the Pine Valley Apartments at 1000 Pine Tree Drive.  A memo from Greg McCoy, Land and Community Developer Administrator, is attached. (See Backup)
18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Filing of an Application with the Local Government Commission for Approval of the Drainage Improvements and Garage Relocation Projects.
Financing that involves real property must be approved by the Local Government Commission (“LGC”).  Financing will be utilized for the drainage improvements and garage relocation projects.  After reviewing responses to a request for proposals for installment-loan financing, PNC Bank is the recommended lender with an interest rate of 3.34% for a 10-year period.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli, is attached. (See Backup)
19. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving an Audit Contract for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2018.
Mauldin & Jenkins, LLC performed the City’s audit for Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2017 at a cost of $34,000.  Their proposed contract for the upcoming year-end (FYE June 30, 2018) is $36,000 and includes all major programs.  The Board is asked to consider approving this contract and authorize the Mayor to execute it on behalf of the City.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)
20. Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Amend Section 66-85 of Chapter 66 for City-Sponsored Events.
An amendment is needed to the ordinance listing city-sponsored to reflect two minor changes.  The Twin Rivers YMCA Healthy Kids Day and Healthy Kids Day 5K is referring to its 2018 run under the title of “Pancake Pursuit 5k and 10k” and in future years may choose to refer to the run under a different title.  Therefore, for the purpose of the city-sponsored list, they desire the event simply be listed as the Twin Rivers YMCA 5k and 10k.  The second change is the Neuse River Bridge Run will be held annually in the month of March instead of October.  Copies of the requests for these changes are attached. (See Backup)
21. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2017-18 General Fund Operating Budget.
(Wards 1 and 2) A budget ordinance amendment is sought to appropriate $30,000 to Parks and Recreation for the repair and maintenance of Kidsville, a wooden playground structure that is approximately 24 years old.  The structure is currently closed until the maintenance and repairs can be performed.  The amendment also appropriates $62,000 to Public Works for expenses related to the replacement of hardware in the City Hall clock tower.  Fund balance will be appropriated to cover both of these items.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)
22. Appointment(s).
(a)  Nancy Gray has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission as a result of relocating to a different city.  Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill this vacancy.  Ms. Gray’s term will actually expire on May 15, 2018, so the appointee will start a new term instead of simply completing her existing term. (See Backup)
(b)  Tripp Eure’s seat on the Historic Preservation Commission will expire on May 15, 2018.  This is his second term, and he is ineligible for reappointment at this time.  This is a rotating seat, and it is Ward 2’s turn to make the next appointment.  Alderman Harris is asked to make this appointment. (See Backup)
23. Attorney’s Report.
24. City Manager’s Report.
25. New Business.
26. Closed Session.
27. Adjourn.

 

Attending the Board of Aldermen meeting and need assistance?
Call us at 252-639-7501 no later than 3 p.m. the date of the meeting.
Assistive listening devices available upon request.

Posted in Board of Aldermen

April 25th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

See if you can find the Easter egg in this $11,000 diorama of Downtown New Bern that resides at City Hall. Go here for the answer and other fun facts from Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

The Board of Aldermen got their first look at a proposed $125 million spending plan that keeps the wheels rolling at City Hall without costing constituents a penny more — but that could change by the time the budget is approved next month.

The board met Tuesday and spent just over an hour hearing an overview of the fiscal year 2019 spending plan draft, which as presented is a1.91 percent increase over this year.

Here are areas that may cost citizens more:

  • The board may consider moving sanitation out of general fund. It is running $193,000 in the red, subsidized by general fund. Includes leaf and limb service. Would need to increase by $3 to $17.75 to break even.
  • Motor vehicle tax increase—City gets $5 per licensed vehicle tag. Most cities charge $15-$25. Some as high as $30. First $5 is unrestricted; the city can spend it any way it wants. Anything over that must be used for road improvements. Each $5 generates $125,000 in revenue.
  • Ad valorem tax rate increase—It had been .41. The current rate, .46, is a hair shy of revenue neutral. A 1 cent increase would result in $310,000 revenue. City Hall is looking at a 1 cent rate increase due to revaluation because county and Havelock already adjusted theirs.
  • Electric rates remain the same for now, but may increase (we’ll find out in January starting in April or July)

Key takeaways from the draft budget proposal:

  • A balanced budget with no ad valorem tax increase unless the board so chooses to fund large projects
  • Increase in city staff size by one position
  • Merit-based pay increases for employees of 1-2.5 percent, and zero for those who aren’t performing as well.
  • Continue projects started in FY2018.
  • The same utility rates but electric rates may be an increase (the city will find out in January, with any rate increase starting somewhere between April and July)

Considerations city staff took into account when creating the draft include:

  • Maintain current level of operations and a balanced budget
  • Present options to recover costs for sanitation services
  • Look for ways to fund larger projects

Goals were:

  • Invest in staff
  • Ensure public safety meets requirements
  • Enhance parks and recreation opportunities
  • Maintain fiscal responsibility
  • Invest in city infrastructure
  • Promote economic development

Now, some details.

City staffing:

Net increase of one position, a fire inspector, due to increased demands. Also adds a substation technician in the electric department. Leaving positions vacant or realigning other positions will result in 461 positions at City Hall.

The breakdown of city positions:

  • General fund—97 positions (includes police and fire)
  • Water—37 positions
  • Sewer—40 positions
  • Electric—79 positions
  • Stormwater—6 positions
  • Other funded positions—2 positions

Recent staffing additions, including one proposed, are related to city growth: City Hall previously added a building inspector, and now needs an additional a fire inspector

Alderman Bobby Aster said the quartile system of awarding merit raises does not always sit well for people who get called out at night and know how to do everything but who get only the 1 percent raise. It penalizes senior employees, he said.

Merit-based pay increases for employees would be 1 to 2.5 percent, and zero for those with average or poorer performance.

City Manager Mark Stephens said the system was implemented because the city was losing people early in their careers after great expense to the city training them. Intent was to raise newer, good employees up to the midpoint range more quickly.

Raises would be effective July 30.

Other spending priorities:

  • 10 new police vehicles.
  • Renewed emphasis on maintenance and improvements for parks, ballfields, playgrounds, recreation centers, etc.
  • Funding for special recreation activities and youth sports. The city can build four to six pickle ball courts on what was two used tennis courts
  • Outdoor pickle ball courts and major Kidsville renovation. Kidsville playground was shut down pending repair work. Built in late 1980s, the wooden playground has been showing its age.
  • Begin implementation of Martin Marietta Park master plan

Continue projects started in FY2018. They include:

  • Trent Road substation rebuild
  • Continued Township 7 improvements
  • Continued West New Bern improvements
  • Continue AMI implementation
  • Additional water/sewer system improvements
  • Vehicle replacements
  • Move to new facility
  • Craven/South Front Street site development
  • VOLT Center (on First Street at the old Electric Utilities building)
  • Train Depot renovation
  • Guion/Dunn Street railroad crossings
  • $800,000 budgeted for various improvements for city streets and Lawson Creek Park
  • Pavement resurfacing, crack sealing, full-depth repairs, pavement striping, sidewalk and curbing improvements, etc.
  • Additional $85,000 for sidewalk maintenance
  • Street survey updated to identify needed street repairs
Large projects
  • Oaks Road resurfacing—$800,000
  • Old Airport Road—$1.3 million. Another $687,000 is coming from state for Airport Road for paving sections it owns.
  • Trent Road widening—$2 million. No chip-in from state because tied in with the Alfred Cunningham Bridge swap. City took over responsibility of 13 miles of streets from the state in exchange for the state taking over responsibility of the bridge.
  • Martin Marietta Park—$5 million
  • New fire station—$2.5 million to build with $958,000 operating cost
  • Public investment for redevelopment and economic development—TBD
  • Total—$11.6 million with $958,000 in annual operating costs

How to pay for all that?

Current budget frees up $200,000 toward those expenses.

An additional $280,000 would be available per year by creating a self-sustaining sanitation utility—but would result in higher sewer fees for city residents.

An additional $300,000 would be available per year by adding 1 cent per $100 of value to the ad valorem tax rate—a tax increase.

The city could also increase its vehicle registration fee. It’s $5 per registration now, which the city could spend any way it wants. It could raise it by another $5, but that money would have to got to street maintenance and improvements. It could raise it yet another $5, but that would have to go to transportation or street improvements.

What’s next:

May 1 and 2 workshops. Public hearing on May 8. Budget adoption on May 22. Other meetings as necessary.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, New Bern

April 25th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

See if you can find the Easter egg in this $11,000 diorama of Downtown New Bern that resides at City Hall. Scroll down for the answer.

Misc. stuff and fun facts:

Skull?

First, what’s up with City Manager Mark Stephens’ lapel pin? (See picture, left)

Paint Your Heart Out is looking for volunteers, donations and sponsorships. Contact Landa Gaskins, Community Development Coordinator, Phone (252) 639-7586, or email 

Community Health Fare Saturday, April 28, noon-3 p.m., Omega Center.

Water and sewer revenues are down because of conservation, but treatment costs are increasing. Maola was a major customer the city lost, affecting revenue.

Ad valorem tax rates in the area: .52 Greenville, .65 Goldsboro, .66 Kinston, .52 Washington, .59 Havelock, .485 Wilmington, .555 Wilson, .46 New Bern, the lowest in the area. Ad valorem taxes bring in $1.37 million to New Bern.

AMI—Advanced Metering Infrastructure. Meter reader is not a growth profession. Meter technician is. Most of the city now has networked electric and water meters.

The state is seeing a decline in gasoline tax revenue due to increased use of electric vehicles, Alderman Sabrina Bengel said.

In Texas, old gas stations are being repurposed as food truck rodeos, City Manager Mark Stephens said.

Johnnie Ray Kinsey was absent. 

Answer to the question at the top:

The diorama includes a car wreck at the intersection of South and East Front streets.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

April 20th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Note: Links have been added. Links expire when a new agenda is posted.

 

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
APRIL 24, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Kinsey.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
CONSENT AGENDA
3. Considering Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19
At this meeting, the City Manager will present the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019.  Budget workshops are scheduled for May 1st and 2nd.  Following those workshops, a public hearing will be held as required by state statute.  The proposed date of the hearing is May 8, 2018.  A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, is attached.  (See Backup)
4. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on the Rezoning of 900 Broad Street.
(Ward 1) On behalf of One World Company, LLC, Danny Batten has requested the property located at 900 Broad Street be rezoned from a C-4 Neighborhood Business District to a C-3 Commercial District.  The property is an approximately .44-acre parcel near the intersection of Queen and Broad Streets.  It is further identified as tax parcel ID 8-008-151.  The proposed date of the public hearing is May 8, 2018.  A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.  (See Backup)
5.  Approve Minutes.
Draft minutes from the March 27, 2018 and April 10, 2018 regular meetings are provided for review and approval.
***************
6.  City Manager’s Presentation of Fiscal Year 2018-19 Budget.
Mark Stephens, City Manager, will distribute copies of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 and will share a PowerPoint presentation to spotlight significant areas within the budget.
7.  Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Installation of Additional Street Lights.
(Ward 6) The Greenbrier Residents Association has requested additional street lighting on Greenbrier Parkway, Pine Valley Drive, and Cubhouse Drive.  City staff evaluated these areas and determined additional street lighting was necessary in order to meet the City’s standard.  The Public Utilities Department has estimated costs associated with the installation of these lights to be $12,194.00.  A monthly cost of $50.64 will be incurred by Public Works for the utility bill.  Please refer to the attached memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer and Acting Director of Public Utilities.  (See Backup)
8.  Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Submission of a Grant Application to the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund.
(Ward 5) As the Board is aware, staff desires to submit a grant application for 2018 PARTF funds to be utilized for the development of Martin Marietta Park.  The amount sought is $475,000, which requires a dollar-for-dollar match.  To meet this match, the land donation will be utilized.  The amount to which the land may be used as a match will be dependent upon its appraised value.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.  (See Backup)
9.  Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance to Establish the Garage Relocation Project Fund.
As discussed at the Board’s March 27, 2018 meeting, the budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 includes a proposal for moving the city’s garage facilities from its current location to the Water Resources site on Neuse Boulevard.  A project of this nature requires a capital project fund.  The proposed budget ordinance will establish a project fund in the amount of $850,000.  It is requested $30,000 be transferred from the General Fund to cover engineering-related services, and $820,000 be obtained through debt proceeds.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli with additional information is provided. (See Backup)
10. Consider Adopting a Resolution for a Declaration of Intent to Reimburse the Garage Relocation Project.
As referenced in the previous item, the upcoming budget proposes funds for the relocation of the city’s garage facilities.  In addition to establishing a project fund, a declaration of intent to reimburse needs to be adopted prior to or within 60 days of payment of the expenditures to be reimbursed.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached.  (See Backup)
11. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the General Capital Projects Fund.
The IT Division has recommended the City’s virtual server hosting infrastructure be consolidated to the Police Department’s main facility on George Street.  Such a consolidation will yield long-term cost savings.  The investment to implement this consolidation in FY2018-19 is $115,000.  If the infrastructure is not consolidated and a status-quo approach is maintained, larger capital expenditures will be needed and the cost of annual maintenance contracts will rise.  The need for the consolidation and consequences of not proceeding are outlined in the attached memo from Tony Gatlin, IT Manager.  (See Backup)
12. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2017-18 General Fund Operating Budget.
This budget ordinance amendment appropriates $30,000 to be transferred to the Garage Relocation Project Fund to cover engineering services that have already been incurred.  It also appropriates $115,000 to the General Capital Projects Fund to cover expenses related to the virtual server hosting infrastructure project that is detailed in the previous item.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached.  (See Backup)
13.  Appointment(s).
(a)  Nancy Gray has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission as a result of relocating to a different city.  Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill this vacancy.  (See Backup)
(b)  Richard Frye has submitted a letter of resignation from the Historic Preservation Commission.  Alderman Aster is asked to make an appointment to fill the remaining term of Mr. Frye’s seat, which will expire on May 15, 2019.  (See Backup)
(c)  Jim Morrison’s seat on the Historic Preservation Commission will expire on May 15, 2018.  This is his second term, and he is ineligible for reappointment at this time.  Alderman Odham is asked to make a new appointment to serve for a three-year term.  (See Backup)
(d)  Tripp Eure’s seat on the Historic Preservation Commission will expire on May 15, 2018.  This is his second term, and he is ineligible for reappointment at this time.  This is a rotating seat, and it is Ward 2’s turn to make the next appointment.  Alderman Harris is asked to make this appointment.  (See Backup)
(e)  James Herring’s seat on the Historic Preservation Commission will expire on May 15, 2018.  This is Mr. Herring’s first term, and he is eligible for reappointment.  This is a rotating seat, and it is Ward 6’s turn to make the next appointment.  Alderman Odham is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Herring or make a new appointment to fill this seat.  (See Backup)
(f)   Bill Frederick’s term on the Firemen’s Museum will expire on April 22, 2018, and he is interested in continuing to serve in this capacity. This is a rotating seat, and Alderman Best is asked to consider making this reappointment or a new appointment. (See Backup)
(g)  David Picken’s term on the Firemen’s Museum will expire on April 22, 2018.  This is a rotating seat, and Alderman Odham is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Picken or to make a new appointment to fill this seat. (See Backup)
(h)  Gary Lingman’s seat on the Firemen’s Museum will expire April 22, 2018.  This is a rotating seat, and Alderman Bengel is asked to consider reappointment Mr. Lingman or to make a new appointment to fill this seat. (See Backup)
14.  Attorney’s Report.
15.  City Manager’s Report.
16.  New Business.
17.  Closed Session.
18.  Adjourn.

Posted in Board of Aldermen

April 11th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

I’ve never been a fan of how the city charges exorbitant fines, fees, and deposits on electric utilities customers who are least able to afford it.

Then I sat in on a PowerPoint presentation by JR Sabatelli, the city’s finance director, and I was nearly persuaded.

I think several aldermen planned to come out of Wednesday’s special meeting of the Board of Aldermen with the deposit policy cancelled. But that didn’t happen. Sabatelli did that good a job making his points. Rather than trashing the policy, aldermen directed city staff to find ways to be more customer friendly.

But being a CPA, Sabatelli was perhaps a little tone deaf about a few certain things.

He said that prior to changing its utilities billing policies in 2013, the city had a “culture of finding ways to say yes.”

That meant that folks who found themselves stumbling to pay their light bills could walk out of the utilities office on Neuse Boulevard with a payment plan and very little in the way of penalties.

“This is a culture we do not want to return to,” Sabatelli said.

The financial impact of whether the city goes back to its old way of doing things, or continues with its new, non-customer friendly way of doing things, is about a wash. You heard me right: It is revenue neutral (with one caveat that I’ll get into later).

But Sabatelli’s presentation started on one note and ended with another. The city received a three-star rating from an organization that grades cities on such things before it implemented the new plan. Once it implement more punitive measures on people late paying their bills, the city got a four-star rating.

I’m so glad to hear that the city got one extra star, and all it took was putting low-income families at grave financial risk.

That’s not all.

Earlier this year, during a weeks-long cold snap when the daily high temperatures were in the single digits, aldermen were being made aware of the high electric bills their constituents were seeing.

Aldermen specifically asked Sabatelli if there would be some consideration for customers given the unusual nature of this weather event. He said there would be.

Turns out, not so much.

One resident told her story to aldermen during their Wednesday workshop.

By the time the weather started warming up, she, a therapist, and her husband, a carpenter, with two kids including one in college, faced a utility bill of $1,300.

He went to the city utilities office to see if he could work out a payment plan, and was told that to do so would trigger a deposit … of around $1,300.

Instead, he withdrew money from his 401(k) (taxed and assessed a penalty for early withdrawal) to pay the bill.

The next bill he received reflected his payment, but included an extra $1,300 — the charge for a deposit.

That’s not the only customer service nugget (or shall I say, turd) that came out of Wednesday’s meeting.

We also learned that the utilities office officially closes at 5 p.m., but locks its doors at 4:45 p.m. There is a doorbell and an intercom, utility staff offered, helpfully.

At an earlier meeting, we learned that the utilities office no longer has public restrooms, and staff directs members of the public to the restroom at Fort Totten Park, about 100 yards away, across a ball field.

OK, I got that all off my chest.

Now mind you, these are all good people, Sabatelli and the folks who work at the utilities office. They’ve even won two customer service awards, one last year and one this year, and participate in parades and festivals.

The city’s policies regarding utilities payments, fees and fines has saved the city money in other ways. City staff saved hundreds of hours because they aren’t working on payment plans nearly so often, and because the number of electricity cutoffs and restarts has been dramatically reduced.

But I would put forth that there are some things it might do that would be more customer friendly and still earn the city its coveted fourth star.

  1. Instead of demanding a deposit equal to the sum of the two highest utilities bills in the past 12 months, make it an average two months, or better yet, make it a flat fee of, say, $500, and spread that out over a couple of months.
  2. If folks are struggling to pay unusually high light bills because of zero-degree temperatures or hundred-degree temperatures, waive the policy of implementing a deposit whenever a payment plan is required.
  3. Keep your fucking doors open until 5 o’clock.
  4. Reopen your fucking restroom.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

April 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern aldermen and the mayor will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, one day after the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting, to discuss a proposed redevelopment agency and controversial utility deposits.

The special meeting will start at noon Wednesday in the City Hall Courtroom.

This meeting was scheduled separately from the board’s regular meeting due to the complexities of the two issues.

Aldermen and the mayor have been looking at forming a redevelopment agency to solve problems of urban decay in the Five Points area.

The utility deposit program, initiated by the previous Board of Aldermen shortly after it was seated, imposes deposits on utility customers who have struggled to keep current with their bills.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

April 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
APRIL 10, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

 

(Note: Links expire when the next agenda is posted)

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Kinsey.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.

3. Request and Petition of Citizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens.  This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views.  We value all citizen input.
Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period.  At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium.  Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member.  Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.
In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation.  If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda
4. Consider Approving a Proclamation for National Day of Prayer 2018.
Tharesa Lee has requested a proclamation for National Day of Prayer, which will be observed on May 3, 2018 in Union Point Park. (See Backup)
5. Consider Approving a Proclamation for National Minority Health Month.
Alderman Harris has requested a proclamation acknowledging April as National Minority Health Month.  Several events are planned throughout the month of April. (See Backup)
6. Consider Approving a Proclamation for Boys & Girls Club Week 2018.
Representatives from the local Boys & Girls Club organization requested a proclamation recognizing April 9-13, 2018 as Boys & Girls Club Week in New Bern. (See Backup)
7. Submission of Annual Written Report from Appearance Commission.
Pursuant to City ordinance, the Appearance Commission is required to provide a report of activities to the Board of Aldermen no later than April 15th of each year as mandated by NCGS §160A-454.  The attached report satisfies this requirement.  This is informational only, and no action is needed from the Board. (See Backup)
8. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the March 27, 2018 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.

 

********************
9. Presentation on Little Free Library Expansion Project.
Judy Hills, Friends of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library Board Member, will share a PowerPoint presentation on the Little Free Library expansion project, which is a free book exchange. (See Backup)

10. Conduct a Public Hearing, Consider Adopting a Statement of Zoning Consistency, and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Rezone 107 and 109 Beech Street from R-6S Residential and I-1 Industrial Districts to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 5) This public hearing was called after receiving a request from Michael Stephens, the owner of 107 and 109 Beech Street, to have the property rezoned from R-6S Residential and I-1 Industrial to C-3 Commercial District.  The property is located near the corner of Beech Street and Oaks Road and consists of approximately 1.14 acres.  The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the request at its March 6, 2018 meeting. State statute and local ordinance require the Governing Board to hold a public hearing to receive comments on the requested rezoning.  A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached along with a map of the subject property. (See Backup)

11. Conduct a Public Hearing, Consider Adopting a Statement of Zoning Consistency, and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Rezone 1225 S. Glenburnie Road from R-6 Residential and C-4 Neighborhood Business District to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 4) The City of New Bern owns the property located at 1225 S. Glenburnie Road.  This public hearing was called after the City’s request to have the property rezoned from R-6 Residential and C-4 Neighborhood Business Districts to C-3 Commercial District.  The property is located near the corner of Neuse Boulevard and S. Glenburnie Road and consists of approximately 4.77 acres.  This is the subject property for the proposed relocation of the City Garage.  The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the request at its March 6, 2018 meeting.  State statute and local ordinance require the Governing Board to hold a public hearing to receive comments on the requested rezoning.  A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached along with a map of the subject property. (See Backup)

12. Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Amendment to Article XXI, Section 15-463 “Design Guidelines and Performance Standards – Trent Road Corridor” of the Land Use Ordinance.
On March 6, 2018, staff presented to the Planning and Zoning (“P&Z”) Board proposed changes to the Land Use Ordinance with respect to the design guidelines and performance standards for the Trent Road corridor.  At that time, P&Z voted unanimously to approve the changes.  The next step is for the Board of Aldermen to conduct a public hearing and consider approval of the changes.  A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached along with copies of the proposed ordinance changes and a redlined version to easily identify those changes. (See Backup)

13. Conduct a Public Hearing on the System Development Fee Analysis and Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Analysis.
In July 2017, the NC General Assembly passed House Bill 436 amending Chapter 162A of the General Statutes by adding “Article 8, System Development Fees”.  This new article intends to provide for uniform authority with respect to implementing system development fees for public water and sewer systems, as well as clarify the applicable statute of limitations.  The amendment requires a written analysis be performed to calculate the system development fee based upon prescriptive criteria.  In response to this requirement, the City employed Rivers & Associates, Inc. to perform a professional analysis.  Prior to considering adoption of the analysis, House Bill 436 requires the local government post the analysis on its webpage for public review and comment for a minimum of 45 days.  This period has been completed and no written comments were received.  The City is now required to hold a public hearing prior to consideration of adopting the analysis.    A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached. (See Backup)

14. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Conceptual Master Plan for Martin Marietta Park.
(Ward 5) At the March 19, 2018 work session, McGill Associates presented a master plan for the Martin Marietta Park.  Prior to considering adoption, the conceptual plan will again be reviewed in some detail.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached along with a copy of the presentation. (See Backup 1) (See Backup 2)

15. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Contract with Morton Trucking, Inc. for the 2018 Street Resurfacing Project and Any Changes Within the Budgeted Amount.
(Wards 1-5)  Certified bids have been received for the 2018 street resurfacing project.  Morton Trucking, Inc. submitted the lowest bid at $976,130, and the Board is asked to consider adopting a resolution authorizing the City to enter into a contract with the bidder.  The project is slated to begin within 30 days and has a contract period of 180 days.  A memo from Matt Montanye, Director of Public Works, is provided and includes a list of the streets to be resurfaced. (See Backup)

16. Consider Adopting an Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 1607-1609 Dillahunt Street.
(Ward 5) This matter was before the Board of Aldermen at its February 27, 2018 meeting.  After hearing from the owner during that meeting, the Board tabled this matter to allow the City Attorney an opportunity to contact the Bankruptcy Trustee to ascertain the Trustee’s intentions regarding the property.  Mr. Davis will be available to provide a verbal report of the status, if desired.
As a reminder, the property at 1607 Dillahunt Street (also known as 1607-1609 Dillahunt Street) has been vacant since 1999 and a concern for the Police Department since 2001.  Staff has worked with the owners from January 2005 to late 2016 to both secure the building and bring it into compliance.  A formal letter of violation was sent to the owners on August 31, 2015, and a hearing was conducted with the Chief Building Inspector on November 19, 2015, at which time the owners were granted six months to comply with the code.  On May 10, 2016, this order was extended until August 19, 2016 to provide the owners an additional three months’ time.  However, to date no permits have been applied for and work has not been initiated.  Attached are a memo from Mr. Ruggieri, a chronological list of events, and pictures of the property. (See Backup)

17. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending the 2017 Water Improvements Project Fund.
The 2017 Water Improvements Project Fund was established by ordinance on January 24, 2017 with a budget of $1,570,000 for repair and replacement of water infrastructure at various locations.  Additional funds in the amount of $617,737 have been deemed necessary to complete the final phase.  This budget ordinance will appropriate those funds from the Water Capital Reserve Fund.  Memos from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, and J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, are attached. (See Backup)

18. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Amending the 2017 Sewer Improvements Project Fund.
The 2017 Sewer Improvements Project Fund was also established by ordinance on January 24, 2017 with a budget of $1,400,000 for the repair and replacement of sewer infrastructure at various locations.  Additional funds in the amount of $611,059 have been deemed necessary to complete the final phase.  This budget ordinance will appropriate those funds from the Sewer Capital Reserve Fund.  Again, memos from Mr. Hughes and Mr. Sabatelli are attached. (See Backup)

19. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2017-18 Operating Budget.
This budget ordinance amendment provides for the transfers from the Water and Sewer Capital Reserve Funds to the 2017 Water and Sewer Improvements Project Funds as described in the previous two items.  It also acknowledges a $14,000 grant received by the Fire Department from the NC Department of Public Safety.  The grant requires no match, and the funds will be used to provide training opportunities in water rescue and urban search and rescue.  Lastly, the amendment appropriates $450,000 to Stormwater Maintenance for the purchase of a new Vactor Truck.  The current truck is in need of major repairs, and it is felt best to replace the truck. Delivery of a new truck will take 8-10 months, and the purchase will be paid for by transferring $200,000 from fund balance and obtaining $240,000 from 2019 debt service proceeds.  A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached. (See Backup)

20. Appointment(s).
Nancy Gray has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission as a result of relocating to a different city.  Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill this vacancy.
21. Attorney’s Report.
22. City Manager’s Report.
23. New Business.
24. Closed Session.
25. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor

March 24th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Updated 3/25/2018 at 10:23 a.m.

Now that the Craven Terrace low-income housing project has been outsourced, downsized, and renovated, the New Bern Housing Authority is turning its sights on what to do about Trent Court.

In a memo to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (members listed here), Housing Authority Executive Director Martin Blaney said the agency is going to apply for a 9 percent low-income housing tax credit from the N.C, Housing Finance Agency, but first must “secure site control of an eligible and competitive location.”

The “competitive location” would be used to build new low-income housing to add to, and in some cases replace, housing stocks in Trent Court.

As of now, that competitive location is a 30.8-acre, city-owned property off Carolina Avenue between the Pembroke Community, Trent Road and U.S. 70 (maps, left and below left).

The parcel is more than twice the 14 acres the Housing Authority owns that includes Trent Court, New Bern Tower, and numerous other residential structures, although, according to Housing Authority Commissioner Bill Frederick, only 9.7 acres are not subject to flooding and would be usable for housing.

Google Maps close-up shows the location of the Carolina Avenue property.

Little has been discussed publicly about the Housing Authority’s plans for Trent Court over the past seven years, while at the same time it was privatizing and renovating  Craven Terrace, a larger housing project located north of Broad Street.

Craven Terrace was quickly identified as an area worth preserving for public housing, mainly because of its lack of market potential. Surrounded by small parcels with low property values, Craven Terrace is much larger than Trent Court and presented a bigger problem in terms of relocating residents there.

In the end, the Housing Authority secured historic status for the buildings in Craven Terrace, which in turn allowed for tax credits that helped pay for renovations, razing several buildings subject to flooding, and adding amenities including a playground and laundry facility. The Housing Authority also outsourced management of Craven Terrace.

Trent Court is less than half the size of Craven Terrace in acreage and number of residents. But more importantly, its proximity to Tryon Palace, the Historic Downtown District, and a navigable waterway make it much more commercially attractive for would-be developers.

The 30-acre Carolina Avenue property is wooded and undeveloped. It stretches from the lower left center to the upper right corner of this picture. Google Maps photo

Enter Carolina Avenue. The largest single undeveloped parcel owned by the city at more than 30 acres, it is not included on the city’s surplus properties for sale website. Wooded without any buildings, it is unique in New Bern in that it is both a waterfront property (there’s a small lake formed when N.C. DOT quarried dirt and gravel to build the U.S. 70 bypass) and has access to Trent Road.

Still, due to the wetlands, only a third is developable.

Housing Authority officials have been quietly approaching city officials, the Board of Aldermen, and the Pembroke Community about acquiring the Carolina Avenue property for subsidized and low-income housing.

“The NBHA bid was $200,000,” Commissioner Frederick told the Post. 

“Initial discussions with the city were promising,” Blaney said in his memo. “However, more recent discussions have been frustrating with aldermen indicating they would be willing to ‘swap’ the Carolina Avenue site for complete control of the Trent Court property. This was not acceptable. Also, our offer to simply purchase the land was rejected before a bid could be submitted.”

When Blaney refers to promising initial discussions, he’s mainly referring to when E.T. Mitchell, a wealthy appointee to the Board of Aldermen who is now running for county commissioner, was on the board and heard the proposal. (Mitchell was also instrumental in developing and executing plans for Craven Terrace and was a Housing Authority commission member for a time.)

When Blaney refers to more recent frustrating discussions, he’s referring to Ward 2 Alderman Jameesha Harris, who has reservations about the plan and who called it “gentrification” in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Her ward includes the Pembroke community as well as the Carolina Avenue property the Housing Authority is interested in.

The plan has a lot of moving parts but boils down to this: The Housing Authority wants the Carolina Avenue property so it can secure funding to build affordable housing there. It would then move residents of Trent Court and others living on Housing Authority land in that area to the new housing off Carolina Avenue. That would enable the Housing Authority to raze many if not all of Trent Court’s buildings and replace them with a mixed-income residential development that it would still manage, either directly or indirectly.

It would involve moving low-income residents from Trent Court, ostensibly on a temporary basis, and moving them to housing to be constructed on Carolina Avenue adjacent to the Pembroke community. Once a new and improved Trent Court emerges, former residents would be given the opportunity to move back if housing is available.

The proposal made to Ms. Harris was that the city donate the property to NBHA, freeing up our proposed $200,000 bid to rehabilitate the Taylor Building in Trent Court as a permanent home for the Boys & Girls Club,” Commissioner Frederick told the Post.

As it appears now, what would be built where Trent Court exists now would be a mix of high-, middle- and low-end housing and subsidized housing. The Housing Authority plans to leave a waterfront green space between Walt Bellamy Drive and Lawson Creek, and according to a source, that waterfront property is what the Housing Authority is willing to trade to the city for the Carolina Avenue acreage.

Trent Court and Carolina Avenue Compared

Trent Court area Carolina Avenue
Acres 14.07 built-out 30.81 undeveloped but mostly wetland
Tax value $663,990 $140,150
Tax value per acre $47,191 $4,548

 

One problem with Trent Court is that the next time it floods in that area, affected buildings will have to be vacated and razed. No more money will be spent to bring them back to habitability. That puts a gun to the Housing Authority’s head to find substitute housing quickly.

“This is a complicated matter practically and politically,” Blaney said in his his memo. “Strategies such as improving Trent Court, seeking other land, approaching aldermen, public relations, etc., need to be devised.”

He said in his memo that he has spoken with three Pembroke residents about the proposal. “Two of the three indicated that my explanation was not exactly as an earlier one given by their alderman. They still expressed misgivings, however.

“I expect to be invited to the next Pembroke Residents’ Association meeting in early April. My belief is that if we disagree, at least let us disagree based on honest fact.”

Blaney has scheduled an interview with the Post on Tuesday morning to provide further information about this issue.

Facing opposition from Alderman Harris, proponents of the plan have attempted to sweeten the pot in an effort to gain her support, including promises for a new Boys & Girls Club location and public works improvements in her ward, she told the Post.

Harris, who represents the Pembroke Community as part of her ward, released Blaney’s memo on her alderman Facebook page on Thursday evening and explained her involvement in the plan.

“I was invited to a meeting to talk about the city possibly donating a very big plot of land that is located in my ward in Pembroke,” Harris said on her alderman Facebook page. “They also wanted us to pay the cost of demolition of some Trent Court Buildings and they would in return give the city some waterfront wetlands.

“It was stated that they wanted to relocate Trent Court Residents to the property they would build in Pembroke area but also give them a right to come back to the Trent Court area after they rebuild new homes and condos.”

Harris said she didn’t agree with the plan and said it sounded like a case of gentrification (although she also said she would support the deal if the Housing Authority paid full price for the Carolina Avenue property).

“Then I was asked to a second meeting but this time they added the Boys & Girls Club into to the mix,” Harris said. “Basically what I got out of the meeting is, we would help the Boys & Girls Club if the city once again provides the big plot of land in Pembroke. At this meeting, I personally made it clear that I am not in favor of any deal.

“I have never given misleading information,” she wrote, referring to Blaney’s memo describing his version of the plan as different from hers. “I never stated that the city wants control over the property and I simply stated that I would only vote yes if full price was offered for the land.

“I am doing the job that I was voted into office to do. I refuse to be a ‘Yes Man’! If I don’t like the idea and I ask my constituents about the idea and they don’t like it as well, then leave it alone.”

Commissioner Frederick said he was not aware of any request for the city to pay for any demolition in Trent Court, or any promises to pay for public works projects in her ward. 

 

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Community, Economy and Employment, Housing, Mayor, New Bern

March 23rd, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

(Note: Links for documentation expire when the next agenda is posted)

CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
MARCH 27, 2018 – 6:00 P.M.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Dana E. Outlaw.  Prayer Coordinated by Alderman Aster.  Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
Consent Agenda.
3. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets on April 21, 2018 for United Worship Center’s Community Day.
(Ward 1) Walter Linsey, an elder with United Worship Center, has requested the 800 block of West Street and 900 block of Main Street be closed to vehicular traffic from 12 noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2018.  The Center will be holding its annual Community Day, which is a time of gathering for food, games and entertainment.  A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached along with a map of the area, the pre-event questionnaire, and a petition of consent from those who reside in the 800 block of West Street. (See Backup)
4. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets on May 17, 2018 for the New Bern Police Department’s Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.
(Ward 1) Lt. Jason Williams with the New Bern Police Department has requested the 600-700 blocks of Queen Street and 500-600 blocks of George Street be closed to vehicular traffic on May 17, 2018 from 8 a.m. until 12 noon for the department’s Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.  A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached along with a map of the area and a pre-event questionnaire. (See Backup)
5. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone 107 and 109 Beech Street from R-6S Residential and I-1 Industrial Districts to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 5) Michael Stephens, the owner of 107 and 109 Beech Street, has requested to have the property rezoned from R-6S Residential and I-1 Industrial to C-3 Commercial District.  The property is located near the corner of Beech Street and Oaks Road and consists of approximately 1.14 acres.  The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the request at its March 6, 2018 meeting. State statute and local ordinance require the Governing Board to hold a public hearing to receive comments on the requested rezoning.  The proposed resolution calls for the hearing to be held on April 10, 2018.  A memo from Bradleigh Sceviour, Planner II, is attached along with a map of the subject property. (See Backup)
6. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone 1225 S. Glenburnie Road from R-6 Residential and C-4 Neighborhood Business District to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 4) The City of New Bern owns property located at 1225 S. Glenburnie Road and has requested to have the property rezoned from R-6S Residential and I-1 Industrial to C-3 Commercial District.  The property is located near the corner of Neuse Boulevard and S. Glenburnie Road and consists of approximately 4.77 acres.  This is the subject property for the proposed relocation of the City Garage.  The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved the request at its March 6, 2018 meeting.  State statute and local ordinance require the Governing Board to hold a public hearing to receive comments on the requested rezoning.  The proposed resolution calls for the hearing to be held on April 10, 2018.  A memo from Mr. Sceviour is attached along with a map of the subject property. (See Backup)
7. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Amend Article XXII, Section 15-463 “Design Guidelines and Performance Standards – Trent Road Corridor” of the Land Use Ordinance.
On March 6, 2018, staff presented to the Planning and Zoning (“P&Z”) Board proposed changes to the Land Use Ordinance with respect to the design guidelines and performance standards for the Trent Road corridor.  At that time, P&Z voted unanimously to approve the changes.  The next step is for the Board of Aldermen to conduct a public hearing on April 10, 2018 for it to also consider approval of the changes.  A memo from Mr. Sceviour is attached along with copies of the proposed ordinance changes and a redlined version to easily identify those changes. (See Backup)
8. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Call for a Public Hearing on the System Development Fee Analysis.
In July 2017, the NC General Assembly passed House Bill 436 amending Chapter 162A of the General Statutes by adding “Article 8, System Development Fees”.  This new article intends to provide for uniform authority with respect to implementing system development fees for public water and sewer systems, as well as clarify the applicable statute of limitations.  The amendment requires a written analysis be performed to calculate the system development fee based upon prescriptive criteria.  In response to this requirement, the City employed Rivers & Associates, Inc. to perform a professional analysis.  Prior to considering adoption of the analysis, House Bill 436 requires the local government post the analysis on its webpage for public review and comment for a minimum of 45 days.  This period has been completed and no written comments were received.  The City is now required to hold a public hearing prior to considering adoption of the analysis.  The public hearing will be called for April 10, 2018.  A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached. (See Backup)
9. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the March 13, 2018 regular meeting and March 19, 2018 work session are attached for review and approval.
********************
10. Presentation and Discussion of Neuse Boulevard Site and Relocation of City Garage.
(Ward 4) As you are aware, the Water Resources Division will be relocating from its current site on Neuse Boulevard to a new facility on Highway 55.  In September 2016, as part of a presentation seeking direction regarding the Water Resources facility, the Board was presented with options for the division’s current site.  One of the options included relocating the City Garage to the Neuse Boulevard property.  This presentation will present that plan so the current Board is fully informed and can offer direction. (See Backup)
11. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2017-18 General Fund.
(Ward 1) On November 14, 2017, an ordinance was adopted amending the list of City-Sponsored events to include a New Year’s Eve Celebration.  This will be a family-friendly event that includes a kids’ zone, DJ and live entertainment.  In order to begin preparations for this event, entertainment needs to be booked and general supplies purchased.  Sponsorships will be sought to offset the cost of the event, but a budget amendment for $16,500 is sought to begin planning the event.  Memos from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, and J. R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, are attached. (See Backup)
12. Appointment(s).
13. Attorney’s Report.
14. City Manager’s Report.
15. New Business.
16. Closed Session.
17. Adjourn.

Posted in Board of Aldermen

March 15th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Preliminary plans have been released for the proposed 850-acre Martin Marietta Park that depict something the size and scope of which would make it one of the most significant municipal parks in the state.

Aldermen, the mayor, staff and advisers will meet upstairs at City Hall at 1 p.m. Monday to discuss the park and a proposed city redevelopment area and commission. (Link to agenda; note that the link has a limited shelf life.)

As depicted in maps, Martin Marietta Park would include a large amphitheater, swimming area, boating area, hiking trails and numerous other features. The plan does not indicate how the city would pay for developing the park.

Posted in Activities, Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, Parks and Recreation

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