Agenda

 

 

REGULAR MEETING
CITY COUNCIL

September 9, 2013

 

Mel L. Cohen, Mayor
Sally W. Sandy, City Manager
Louis E. Vinay, Jr., City Attorney
John H. Cantrell )
Forrest A. Fleming ) Councilmen
Alfred W. Hamer, Jr. )
Sidney Simmons ) Becky Brinkley, Interpreter

 

I. Call to Order in the Council Chamber at City Hall at 6:00 p.m.

 

II. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

 

III. Invocation to be Given by Reverend Sheldon Stephenson

• Resolution Congratulating and Commending Reverend Sheldon Stephenson for his Service as Chaplain for the City of Morganton

 

IV. Introduction of Council

 

V. Presentation of Service Pin

• Cheryl Benton, Wastewater, 25 years

 

VI. Public Advocacy Issues and Strategies

a. Constitution Week Proclamation

Accepted by Nancy Ramseur McMurray, Regent and Roben Plyler, Constitution Week Chairman, Quaker Meadows National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution

b. Marine Corps League Day Proclamation – To be delivered on October 5, 2013

c. Resolution Honoring S. Ellis Hankins, NC League of Municipalities

d. Resolution Requesting the North Carolina Board of Transportation to Dedicate the Enola Road/Interstate 40 Bridge in the City of Morganton in Memory of Kelly Michael Kincaid

Accepted by Retired Broughton Police Chief Rex "Sput" Powell

e. Report on How State Budget Affects the City of Morganton –

Scott Hildebran, Assistant City Manager

f. Announcement: The application period for Non-Profit Grants for the CDBG program is currently open. The deadline for applications is October 14.

 

VII. North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1 Update

 

VIII. Consent Agenda – All items below are considered to be routine and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a Council member, staff member or citizen so requests. In the event a request is made, the item will be removed from the consent agenda and considered under Item IX.

A. Approval of Minutes – For a Regular Meeting held on August 5, 2013 and for a Special Joint Meeting with the Burke County Board of Commissioners also held on August 5, 2013.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve minutes as submitted.

B. Consideration of Tax Releases in the amount of $2,235.88

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve tax releases in the amount of $2,235.88.

C. Consideration of Approval of Cooperative Bid Agreement with ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve the Member Cooperative Bid Agreement for Joint Purchasing of Utility Materials, Supplies and Equipment with ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc.

D. Consideration of Appointment of Tax Collector

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve Denise Smith as Tax Collector for the City of Morganton for the period of September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2014.

E. Consideration of Resolution Adopting an Order Directing the Tax Collector to Collect Taxes

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Adopt a Resolution adopting an order directing the Tax Collector to collect taxes.

F. Consideration of Schedule of Events at Catawba Meadows Park

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve the Schedule of Events at Catawba Meadows Park

G. Consideration of Hunting Creek Landing Water Line and Sewer Line Extension for Habitat for Humanity

Approval of Budget Amendment for Hunting Creek Landing Water Line and Sewer Line Extension for Habitat for Humanity

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Award bid and contract with Max Prestwood Water & Sewer Inc. of Lenoir, NC to construct the Habitat for Humanity Hunting Creek Landing Water Line and Sewer Line Extension and approve Budget Amendments.

H. Consideration of a Professional Services Agreement to Provide Phase 2 Storm Water Assistance for FY 2013/2014

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve Professional Services Agreement with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments for Phase 2 Storm Water Public Outreach and Education Services in the amount of $4,941.

I. Consideration of a Budget Amendment for Painting of the Old Courthouse

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Approve budget amendment in the amount of $32,000 for painting the old courthouse; to be reimbursed by Burke County.

 

IX. Items Removed from Consent Agenda

 

X. Appearances

 

XI. New Business

1. Consideration of Rescinding Resolution # 13-19 (and)

Consideration of Resolution to Apply for a North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program Grant

2. Consideration of an Addendum to Interlocal Agreement for the Consolidation of 911 Service

3. Consideration of a Policy for Whistleblower Protection

4. Consideration of Removing the $20. per Month Non-Cable Service Fee from the City of Morganton Schedule of Fees and Charges Effective October 1, 2013.

5. Consideration to Approve the Purchase of a new CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) for CoMPAS in the amount of $600,000 and Reimbursement Resolution

6. Consideration of Bid Award to Replace Storm Damaged Substation Equipment

7. Consideration of a Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement for 108 East Meeting Street.

8. Consideration of a Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement for 317 North Green Street

9. Consideration of a Non-Contiguous Annexation Petition Submitted by Maharshi Corporation for 1.7 acres Located at 1150 North Green Street

10. Consideration to Amend a CDBG Small Business Loan Agreement with Teresa Elaine Kinney and Titus Benjamin Kinney member owners of Kinney's Subs LLC dba Motown Deli Grill and Catering.

11. Consideration of Appointment to the Planning and Zoning Commission

 

XII. Other Items from City Manager and City Council Not on Agenda

 

XIII. Reports

 

XIV. Adjournment

 

Video

 

 

Minutes

 

 

 MINUTES

REGULAR MEETING

CITY COUNCIL

September 9, 2013

 

Mel L. Cohen, Mayor                                   Sally W. Sandy, City Manager

                                                                Louis E. Vinay, Jr., City Attorney

John H. Cantrell        )

Forrest A. Fleming    ) Councilmen   

Alfred W. Hamer, Jr.  )

Sidney Simmons      )                                 Becky Brinkley, Interpreter

 

 

I. Call to Order- The meeting was called to order in the Council Chamber at City Hall at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Cohen.

 

II. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag – The Mayor asked everyone to join Councilman Fleming in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Councilman Fleming is a retired Command Sergeant Major and Western Area Chairman of the Employer Support for the National Guard Reserve.

 

III. Invocation to be Given by Reverend Sheldon Stephenson - Reverend Sheldon Stephenson gave the invocation. 

The Mayor then read Resolution #13-21 Congratulating and Commending Reverend Sheldon Stephenson for his Service as Chaplain for the City of Morganton.  The resolution proclaimed Rev. Stephenson as Chaplain Emeritus for the City of Morganton.   

A standing ovation was observed in honor of Rev. Stephenson.

 

IV. Introduction of Council – Mayor Cohen introduced the members of the City Council and staff.

 

V. Presentation of Service Pin - The Personnel Committee and City staff have decided to recognize long-term employees for years of service at a Council meeting.  The Mayor presented Cheryl Benton, an employee of the Wastewater Department, with a 25-year service pin.

Cheryl stated that she was very thankful for the opportunity back in 1988 to work for the City and she was still thankful today.  Brad Boris, Water Resources Director, stated that while he has only worked with Cheryl for 8 months of her 25 years he finds her to be a true professional and a great asset to the City.

 

VI. Public Advocacy Issues and Strategies

• The Mayor stated the past weekend’s 32nd Annual Historic Morganton Festival entertained the largest crowds ever in the City.  The Mayor quoted Bryan Black as saying he “had finally seen the capacity of Morganton’s downtown…plus one”.  The Mayor stated both days were superb, the weather fantastic, and traffic was bumper to bumper.  He stated the City received a lot of positive publicity and expressed thanks to the over 300 volunteers and 35 sponsors.  He stated the festival could not happen without the volunteers, sponsors and Sharon’s department. 

Councilman Simmons stated that he was downtown during much of the weekend and hearing the many positive comments about our little town made him proud to be part of this City.  Councilman Fleming stated his thanks to Sharon, her staff and the hundreds volunteers.  He stated that their hard work does not go unnoticed.

• The Mayor stated the wayfinding signs had been placed welcoming visitors, directing drivers to parking areas, and to various area attractions.

• The Mayor acknowledged the passing of long time Glen Alpine elected official Russell Gaylord.

• The Mayor thanked Millie Wallace for driving Rev. Stephenson to the Council meetings over the past several months.

• The Mayor asked everyone to remember those lost on September 11, 2001.

• The Mayor then read several proclamations and resolutions:

a. Constitution Week Proclamation – Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Cantrell, and unanimously carried, the week of September 17-23 was declared Constitution Week in Morganton.

This proclamation was accepted by Nancy Ramseur McMurray, Regent, and Roben Plyler, Constitution Week Chairman, Quaker Meadows Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. 

b.  Marine Corps League Day Proclamation – The Mayor stated he would deliver this proclamation to the Marine Corps League on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

c. Resolution Honoring S. Ellis Hankins, NC League of   Municipalities - The Mayor stated that Ellis Hankins would soon be retiring and many local municipalities were sending congratulatory resolutions in his honor.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and unanimously carried, the Council passed Resolution #13-23 honoring S. Ellis Hankins.

d. Resolution Requesting the North Carolina Board of Transportation to Dedicate the Enola Road/Interstate 40 Bridge in the City of Morganton in Memory of Kelly Michael Kincaid  -  This resolution was accepted by Retired Broughton Police Chief Rex "Sput" Powell who is working with the NCDOT in naming the bridge in memory of Officer Kincaid.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Fleming, and carried unanimously, the Council approved Resolution #13-22 requesting the North Carolina Board of Transportation to Dedicate the Enola Road/Interstate 40 Bridge in the City of Morganton in Memory of Kelly Michael Kincaid 

e. Report on How State Budget Affects the City of Morganton – Scott Hildebran, Assistant City Manager, gave a report on highlights of  laws affecting the City of Morganton adopted during the recent 2013 NC General Assembly Session.

TAX REFORM (HB 998 Tax Simplification and Reduction Act) - Effective July 1, 2014, this will eliminate State and local franchise taxes on electricity and natural gas & applies a 7% combined general sales tax rate to their sales.

The Assistant City Manager stated the new distribution formula is intended to make the change in revenue neutral for each city/town.  The City budgeted $948,349 for Electricity Franchise Tax and $140,761 in Piped Natural Gas Franchise Tax in FY 2013-14.

Effective January 1, 2014, State and local sales tax will apply to service contracts for maintenance and repair of automobiles, goods subject to sales tax and to admissions to movies, live entertainment, and museums

Effective July 1, 2014, the "back-to-school" sales tax holiday & Energy Star sales tax holiday are eliminated. Also eliminates several State and local sales tax exemptions for certain newspaper sales; certain bakery items, and certain items sold to farmers with gross receipts under $10,000. The City budgeted $3,082,872 in Sales Tax in FY 2013-14.

The Assistant City Manager stated that overall the changes are expected to provide the City with additional revenue in range of $17,000 to $52,000 annually.

The State gas tax is capped at 37.5 cents until June 30, 2015. This would reduce Powell Bill funds for FY 14-15. The City budgeted $479,900 in Powell Bill Funds in FY 2013-14.  Scott stated this is expected to cause a small reduction in Powell Bill Funds received by the City, but should be nominal. Previously, gas tax rate changed twice a year based on wholesale prices. The reduction in funds is due to less sales of fuel due to economy and more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Assistant City Manager stated the legislation also directs the State to study several tax issues – one of which is the local Privilege Licenses Tax. The City budgeted $209,735 in Privilege Licenses in FY 2013-14.

STATE BUDGET (SB 402 Appropriations Act of 2013) - Extends for one-year the Transitional Hold Harmless payment, which expired in August 2012. The 2013 payment will be made later this month. However, each local government would receive only one-half of the FY 12-13 amount. There will be no further extension of the Transitional Hold Harmless beyond 2013. The City budgeted $0 in Hold Harmless Reimbursements in FY 2013-14.  The revenue of the extended transitional hold harmless for 1-year at 50% is estimated to provide the City approximately $47,000.

The Assistant City Manager stated the other Budget provisions of particular interest to Morganton including:

A study for School of Science and Math – Morganton Campus.  The UNC Board of Governors, the NC School of Science and Math, and the Department of Public Instruction shall jointly study the feasibility of establishing a western campus for the School of Science and Math at the School for the Deaf in Morganton and shall report their findings by February 1, 2014.

It funds Broughton Hospital to open 19 additional adult psychiatric care beds

It funds the new Broughton Hospital providing funds to purchase medical equipment, furniture, and information technology infrastructure for the new, expanded Broughton Hospital scheduled to open in December 2014.  $11,510,467 in FY 13-14 and $16,598,589 in FY 14-15.

Regional Economic Development Commissions - Reduces funding support of Regional Economic Development Commissions and eliminates all funding in FY 2014-15. The Assistant City Manager noted that Burke County gets a one-time special appropriation of $18,000 from Western NC Regional Economic Development Commission funds.

Scott stated that the budget closes the Western Youth Institution effective January 1, 2014. The closure is part of a reduction in prison capacity to reflect the declining prison population.

It funds a Study of Closed Prison Facilities/Convert to Other Use (Western Youth Center) - the Department of Public Safety shall consult with the county or municipality in which the facility is located, elected State and local officials, and with State and federal agencies about the possibility of converting that facility to other use. The Department may also consult with any private for-profit or nonprofit firm about the possibility of converting the facility to other use. Priority would be given to converting the facility to other criminal justice use. The State may provide for the transfer or the lease of any of these facilities to counties, municipalities, State agencies, federal agencies, or private firms wishing to convert them to other use.

Grants Department of Commerce Flexibility to Reorganize Department/Public-Private Partnership - Allows the Secretary of the Department of Commerce to reorganize positions and costs and to establish a public-private partnership which includes cost containment measures. Not later than April 1, 2014, the Department shall report on any actions under this section

The Assistant City Manager stated the budget eliminates the NC Rural Economic Development Center Funding & Creates the NC Rural Economic Development Division & Rural Infrastructure Authority - One program would provide local governments in Tier One and Two counties for projects that productively reuse vacant buildings and properties or construct or expand rural health care facilities.

The budget creates a new Division of Water Infrastructure.  It combines the Division of Water Quality and the Division of Water Resources. It also establishes a Water Infrastructure Authority that would administer the State Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds and the CDBG Infrastructure Grant Program.

The budget consolidates NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF) and Natural Heritage Trust Fund (NHTF).  Deed stamp tax proceeds are now deposited in General Fund and Trust Fund receives a direct appropriation.

The budget makes changes to the NC Park and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF), previously funded with 75% of deed stamp tax. Now it receives a direct General Fund appropriation. Debt service is no longer required to be paid from PARTF appropriation. The Authority is reduced in size from 15 members to nine. Funds allocated:  State Park Improvements (65%), Local Parks and Recreation Grants (30%), and Public Beach Access (5%).

The Mayor asked if there were any questions for the Assistant City Manager.  No questions were received.  The Mayor thanked him for this report.

f. The City Manager announced that the application period for Non-Profit Grants for the CDBG program is currently open.  She stated the deadline for applications would be October 14.

 

VII. North Carolina Municipal Power Agency Number 1 Update

The City Manager stated there was nothing to report at this time.

 

VIII. Consent Agenda – The City Manager presented the Consent Agenda and asked if any items should be removed from it.  No request was made. 

Upon motion by Councilman Fleming, seconded by Councilman Hamer,  and unanimously carried, the Consent Agenda was approved and each individual item adopted as stated.

A. Approved Minutes for a Regular Meeting held on August 5, 2013 and for a Special Joint Meeting with the Burke County Board of Commissioners also held on August 5, 2013.

B. Approved tax releases in the amount of $2,235.88.

C. Approved the Member Cooperative Bid Agreement for Joint Purchasing of Utility Materials, Supplies and Equipment with ElectriCities of North Carolina, Inc.

D. Approved Denise Smith as Tax Collector for the City of Morganton for the period of September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2014.

E. Adopted Resolution #13-20 adopting an order directing the Tax Collector to collect taxes.

F. Approved the Schedule of Events at Catawba Meadows Park.

G. Awarded a bid and contract with Max Prestwood Water & Sewer Inc. of Lenoir, NC to construct the Habitat for Humanity Hunting Creek Landing Water Line and Sewer Line Extension and approved Budget Amendments.

H. Approved a Professional Services Agreement with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments for Phase 2 Storm Water Public Outreach and Education Services in the amount of $4,941.

I. Approved a budget amendment in the amount of $32,000 for painting the old courthouse; to be reimbursed by Burke County.

 

IX. Items Removed from Consent Agenda – There were no items removed from the Consent Agenda.

 

X. Appearances

• Nathan Chapman resides at 200 Magnolia Drive.  Chapman identified himself as a candidate for City Council, and commented on the budget.  He stated that Morganton and Lenoir are comparable yet Morganton’s budget was much more than Lenoir’s budget.  He stated that Morganton taxpayers are paying the $40 million for the electric and cable business.  He then stated that if elected to City Council he would donate his salary to a local charity.   He concluded by asking for votes for him for City Council.

• Larry Thurston resides at 3911 Brandy Street (County).  He stated his continued confusion over the perceived contradictions between not saying the Pledge of Allegiance on a regular basis and the Council’s approval of the Charters of Freedom display.  He commented on his service in the military.

• Aziz Omer resides at 101 Ervingdale Lane.  Omer spoke about citizen freedoms and perceived attempts made by local government to impede freedoms. He stated the streets of Morganton belong to the people and the people have the right to peaceful assembly. He spoke about the Historic Morganton Festival and how he did not understand how out of town vendors were charged for electrical service. He stated he found it ironic that a display of the Charters of Freedom was being erected while he felt those rights were being denied.  He indicated he was offered a booth free of charge by the Historic Morganton Festival but that the graciously turned it down.

• Jerry Norvell resides at 229 Riverside Drive. Norvell stated he felt the Council had been beaten up pretty badly so he would keep his comments short and sweet. He stated he was a commercial real estate developer and the preferred developer for CVS Drug Stores in North Carolina which allowed him to travel to many communities.  He was amazed by the many vacant store fronts in small towns around the State.  When people found out he was from Morganton, the first question raised was how does Morganton maintain such a good downtown? What is the secret? He stated that Morganton was admired by many cities and towns in North Carolina.  Norvell addressed the Mayor directly stating, “Mr. Mayor you are a shining star in the State of North Carolina for what you’ve done in the downtown.”

• Ben Belton resides at 201 Riverside Drive.  Belton stated he, too, served in the military.  He is originally from Mt. Airy, has lived in Raleigh, Durham, and Alaska. He moved to Morganton 36 years ago to open a business because he saw there was a tremendous amount of vision for the future of Morganton.  He stated that he had seen so much progress over the years. His reason for appearing was to tell the Council how strongly he felt about Morganton.  He stated that people moving into the community come into his business and share how positively they perceive Morganton. He stated Morganton is one of the best communities around. 

• Tom Starnes resides at 108 Creekside Drive.  Starnes stated he has lived in Morganton for 51 years and has loved every minute of it.  He stated he was totally disgusted hearing from citizens who do nothing but criticize.  He stated Morganton has been one of the most progressive small cities in the State of North Carolina. Morganton had taken large strides in controversial issues over the years.  Fifty years ago Morganton was one of the few small cities that peacefully integrated schools.  He stated our area was one of the few small cities and counties that agreeably consolidated five school systems.  The City of Morganton erected a showplace on the old hospital site (CoMMA). The City provides its own electrical services, cable television, provides recreational facilities that larger cities envy because they are marvelous. He stated Morganton is a great city despite what the naysayers are saying over and over until it is nauseating.  Starnes commended the Mayor, Council, and the City Manager for their civility in the face of some really nasty, down and dirty criticism.  He stated the Council has gone “beyond” in showing courtesy to those speaking before them over the last months.

• Cecelia Surratt resides at 306 White Street.  She stated that she also would like to commend the Mayor, Council, and City Manager for the outstanding job they are doing and continue to do for the City of Morganton.  She stated she understood how difficult it was to balance every concern and complaint while doing the best for all citizens.  She stated she did not agree with the things being brought forth by Aziz Omer.  She stated his argument was faulty and not based in fact.  She urged citizens to verify Omer’s statements before accepting his comments as the truth.  Much of the information is a matter of public record and available to every citizen.  She stated that according to public record Omer has not voted in a City election in over 10 years.  She quoted her mother as saying if you’ve never voted, you don’t have a dog in this fight.

• Barbara Tate resides at 129C Stephens Drive.  She stated that recently a couple came to her door and in her haste to have them leave she signed the recall petition.  She apologized for signing it stating that she feels the Mayor does a fine job.  Ms. Tate stated she was in the process of having her name removed from the petition.

• Larry Whisnant resides at 610 Valdese Avenue.  Whisnant stated he was a life-long resident whose family roots run deep in this area. He retired from Morganton Department of Public Safety with 30-years service and served 16 years on the City Council. He stated over the last months he has watched and listened to a small group of citizens criticize the community.  He acknowledged that our region has been economically challenged but it does not make this City a “miserable place”. Governing a city requires decisions and choices and not all decisions are liked by all citizens. 

Whisnant stated that citizens enjoy a beautiful City that doesn’t happen by accident.  The vibrant downtown serves as the heart of the City.  He stated that as for being like Hickory or Lenoir or any other place…no thanks!  Those are fine communities, he stated, but he was a Morgantonian and proud of it. 

He thanked City leaders for their dedication and positive perseverance in making Morganton the fine place it is. He told the citizens that this Council was sensible, responsible, accessible and accountable.  He urged citizens not to let the naysayers with hidden agendas take control of the City government. 

• Kent Banks resides at 2260 Crestview Street (Drexel).  He stated he, too, was very proud of Morganton and his family roots also run deep.  He stated his pride of the many accomplishments made and had no personal nemesis on the Council.  He stated he would like to see more diversity than is currently represented on the Council.  He stated that it was troubling to him that when someone had a difference of opinion than the majority they were called naysayers, troublemakers, or whiners.  He stated this was a democracy and people have a right to speak.  He stated that he may not have voted for anyone on the Council but it was still his City Council yet he didn’t feel his community was well represented.  He stated that change could be positive.   

• Leslie Davenport resides at 505 Alexander Avenue.  He stated that he supports Aziz Omer and the recall petition.  He stated that he did not have anything personal against anyone on the Council but felt some citizens were not being well represented.  Davenport stated that he, too, felt very strongly about the integration of schools as his grandmother and his aunt were a part of that integration.  He stated he felt all citizens have a right to speak and a right to be counted. 

There being no other speakers the Mayor closed the Appearances portion of the meeting.

 

XI. New Business

1. Consideration of Rescinding Resolution # 13-19  (and) Consideration of Resolution to Apply for a North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant

The City Manager stated that at the August City Council meeting the Council approved Resolution # 13-19 “A Resolution to Apply for a North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant” in the amount of $86,972 with a match of $15,348.  The grant was for expenditures related to a dedicated traffic patrol unit.  The grant has 2 components, personnel and equipment.  The GHSP wants one resolution to include both components.  Last month the Council only approved one component. Replacement of the August resolution with a new one would be necessary to accomplish the goal.

The grant is in the amount of $181,322 for the purchase of two (2) fully equipped vehicles and 75% of salary and related expenditures for 2 officers.  The vehicles will be used by a dedicated traffic patrol unit.  The grant will pay salaries for two (2) new officers at the rate of 75% for the first year, 50% for the second year, and 25% for the third year. There is a $31,998 match required for the first year that is included in the FY 13/14 budget.  Of that amount $15,348 is for personnel and $16,650 is for equipment.

Upon motion by Councilman Simmons, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and carried unanimously, the Council rescinded Resolution #13-19 “A Resolution to Apply for a North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant”.

Upon motion by Councilman Simmons, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and carried unanimously, the Council approved a Resolution #13-20 authorizing Public Safety to make application for the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant.

 

2. Consideration of an Addendum to Interlocal Agreement for the Consolidation of 911 Service

The City Manager stated this addendum is to the Interlocal Agreement entered into on December 21, 2011 between Morganton, Burke County and the Town of Valdese.  This addendum is to Section K. Personnel which establishes the Burke County Emergency Communications Center (BCECC) calling for a “Transitional Agreement” which will establish the employment relationship between all parties.

The City Manager stated the transitional agreement, after months of discussion, basically provides transferring employees with credit for years/months of service toward all benefits except longevity.  Longevity is unique to an entity and transferring that time would be inequitable. 

Councilman Hamer made a motion to approve the Addendum to Interlocal Agreement for the Consolidation of 911 Service and the Creation of a Joint Agency Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 160A-462 to Provide Emergency Public Safety Communications Services Within Burke County.  The motion was seconded by Mayor Cohen who then called for discussion.

Councilman Fleming stated he had reviewed this agreement thoroughly.  He noted that longevity benefits for non-county employees will not be transferred to the County.  He felt it was a bit unfair through no fault of the employee that those dispatchers currently working for Morganton and Valdese would lose longevity.  Councilman Fleming felt this item should be tabled and there should be further discussion with the County about longevity.

Councilman Fleming then made a motion to table this item so further discussion could take place. 

The City Manager stated they had talked with the County and had heard from the Valdese attorney that Valdese was ready to accept this agreement.  It was the County’s intention to offer employment to some of the Morganton and Valdese employees.  She let the Council know that if this item was tabled it would delay those offers of employment.  The City Manager stated there would be six City of Morganton employees no longer with jobs once the consolidation happened.  As of today, only one of those employees has earned longevity with the City.  While the City offers longevity after 5 years the County offers it at 10 years but at a higher rate than the City.

Councilman Cantrell stated another consideration would be that County employees receive some other benefits that the City does not receive and those employees hired would be receiving better benefits from the County. 

The City Manager stated the County vacation-hours accrual is greater and they receive an additional holiday.  Post employment benefits at retirement would include the time served at the previous entity. 

Councilman Fleming stated that he felt all employees, whether they had been employed 1 year, 2 years, 3 years etc., should be able to transfer that service toward the longevity benefit.  He felt it unfair and  indicated the County should accept that time.  He stated it was the right thing to do. 

Councilman Cantrell stated that one way to look at it was to reduce it to dollars and cents.  When the benefits of longevity kick in and with the additional County benefits look to see if it is fair or unfair to these employees; maybe then a special meeting could be called to reconsider this agreement, if needed. 

Councilman Fleming stated it would be dependent upon what the County would do with the information.  

Councilman Cantrell stated that if it was a “break even” scenario with the additional benefits why create an issue.  If it is truly unfair then the Council could come back and say let’s change the deal and do what’s right.  But without knowing those numbers the County is in the driver’s seat.  He then asked the City Attorney what should happen next. 

The City Attorney suggested that Councilman Fleming change his motion from tabling the item to postponing the decision until the next Council meeting. 

Councilman Fleming asked the City Manager if that could be done and still get in under the time frame set by the County to begin making employment offers. 

The City Manager stated they could let the County know about the outcome of this evening’s meeting and then call a special meeting if necessary.

Councilman Fleming withdrew his motion to table this item.  He then made a motion to postpone consideration until the October meeting, or a special meeting if needed.  Councilman Simmons seconded the motion.  Upon unanimous vote, consideration of the Addendum to Interlocal Agreement for the Consolidation of 911 Service and the Creation of a Joint Agency Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 160A-462 to Provide Emergency Public Safety Communications Services Within Burke County was postponed.

 

3. Consideration of a Policy for Whistleblower Protection

The City Manager stated that the Public Safety Department is applying for a significant grant from the Governor’s Highway Traffic Safety Program.  One of the requirements or prerequisites to receiving such a grant is that the City have in place a policy for the protection of “whistleblowers”, which policy cannot be limited simply to employees of the Public Safety Department. 

The draft policy presented is based on the form of policy suggested by the North Carolina City and County Manager’s Association, as well as the provisions of N.C.G.S. § 126-84 on State Employee Whistle Blowers.  Essentially, the policy provides that employees are not to suffer retaliation in their employment with the City when they report, in good faith, what they consider to be unlawful activities. 

The policy would be inserted as a new Section 3.13 in the City’s Personnel Policy.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Simmons, and carried unanimously, the Council approved and adopted new Section 3.13 in Personnel Policy, “Protection for Whistleblowers”.

 

4. Consideration of Removing the $20. per Month Non-Cable Service Fee from the City of Morganton Schedule of Fees and Charges Effective October 1, 2013.

The City Manager stated the Internet and telephone markets have become increasingly competitive, and in order for CoMPAS to remain competitive in these markets, it is necessary for CoMPAS to remove the Non-Cable Service Fee and therefore allow customers to purchase any of the CoMPAS services unconditionally.  Originally CoMPAS intended to use the fee to promote the “triple play” option.

Today, potential customers sometimes choose to not take service because of this penalty. Many individuals, especially the younger generation, now get their TV content directly from the Internet through a variety of sites that offer TV shows and movies.  It is a better business decision to offer Internet services without other requirements attached. 

The City Manager stated that CoMPAS currently has 104 customers paying these fees which amounts to $2,080.00 per month in revenue. Although CoMPAS would initially lose that revenue, it would be recovered in the form of new customers, as it would only take 20 new customers to offset the loss.

As none of CoMPAS’s competitors are charging these fees, CoMPAS needs to level the playing field by removing the Non-Cable Service Fee.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Cantrell, and carried unanimously, the Council approved removing the Non-Cable Service Fee from the Schedule of Fees and Charges effective with the October 1, 2013 billing.

Councilman Fleming stated this was an historic moment.  It is not often the Council approves removing a fee.

 

5. Consideration to Approve the Purchase of a new CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) for CoMPAS in the amount of $600,000 and Reimbursement Resolution

The City Manager stated that Internet bandwidth usage has increased dramatically and will continue to increase at a rapid pace.  It is necessary for CoMPAS to connect each fiber node in the cable system directly to the Internet in order to provide the fastest connections possible to CoMPAS Internet customers. Currently, the fiber nodes, which serve up to 250 homes, are connected in groups of nodes to the Internet - as many as eight nodes per group. Connecting each node directly to the Internet will give it approximately eight times the bandwidth capacity it currently has.

The City Manager stated the highest Internet speed CoMPAS currently offers to residential customers is 10 Mbps downstream and 2 Mbps upstream. The new CMTS will allow CoMPAS to offer speeds up to 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream through a cable modem, putting CoMPAS far ahead of the competition in both Internet speed and pricing. CoMPAS currently offers as its slowest speed Lite service at 512 Kbps downstream and 256 Kbps upstream – speeds that are so slow they cause customer complaints. When the new CMTS is activated the slowest speed CoMPAS will offer will be 10 Mbps/2 Mbps, thereby eliminating most speed issues throughout the system.

The City Manager stated that CCI Systems has more experience in CMTS solutions than any company in the US, and has served Morganton well for many years. CCI is the Cisco vendor for the NCTC (National Cable Television Cooperative) and provides CoMPAS with larger discounts than the NCTC itself can offer.

Once the contract is approved, work is expected to commence within 30 business days, with a completion date by year end. 

Although the initial quote from CCI was lower than the new quote, changes have since been made to the actual CMTS configuration and design that will ensure ultimate performance now and minimize the need for future upgrades. The expected useful life of the CMTS is 10 years or more depending on how long Cisco will support it.

City staff believes purchasing this equipment through installment financing is the best way to handle this transaction:  Rates remain very favorable and the useful life of 10+ years makes a financing feasible.  Financing bids will be brought to Council for consideration in October.

The City Manager stated that in order to move forward with this project in the most expeditious manner, a reimbursement resolution is necessary. This will allow the City to reimburse itself for any expenditure prior to the borrowing transaction being closed.

Councilman Fleming made a motion which was seconded by Councilman Hamer to approve the purchase of a new CMTS from CCI Systems in the amount of $600,000.  Mayor Cohen asked for discussion.           

Councilman Cantrell questioned the timeframe to payback this $600,000. 

Bill Harkins says the standard payback is 36 months; CoMPAS should be able to get it back within a year.  Harkins stated he felt like this would open the flood-gates for future revenue. He expected that internet sales will grow exponentially over the next few years.   

The City Manager stated that CoMPAS is currently making payments to the General Fund and Electric Fund for upgrades made in 2003.  Those debts will soon be retired and this debt will be taking its place.  The City Manager stated that the September 3, Asheville Citizen Times had an article headlined “Charter Ditches Analog Cable”; this is something the City has been talking about for a while and will revisit the idea of going to all digital to make better use of the bandwidth available.  

Councilman Cantrell added if CoMPAS was still moving ahead with commercial and industrial users.  Harkins talked about the two different networks of fiber going into Morganton Heights. 

Councilman Fleming stated he made this motion because he favors this purchase. It is a significant upgrade in the CoMPAS system and it’s needed to stay competitive. 

Councilman Cantrell stated that it’s a good business decision.

By unanimous vote, the Council approved the purchase of a new CMTS from CCI Systems in the amount of $600,000.

Upon motion by Councilman Fleming, seconded by Mayor Cohen, and carried unanimously, the Council approved a budget amendment in the amount of $600,000 for the purchase of the new CMTS with installment purchase financing.

Upon motion by Councilman Fleming, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and carried unanimously, the Council approved Resolution #13-27 authorizing the City of Morganton to reimburse itself from the proceeds of a tax exempt financing for certain expenditures made in connection with the purchase of a new Cable Modem Termination System for CoMPAS Cable.

The City Manager stated financing bids would be presented for consideration at the October meeting.

 

6 Consideration of Bid Award to Replace Storm Damaged Substation Equipment

The City Manager stated that during the many recent summer storms, two of the City’s substations suffered damage.  The City needs to replace two (2) storm damaged substation breakers and three (3) storm damaged substation voltage regulators.  City staff took bids to replace the equipment

It is recommended by staff to award the bids to the lowest responsible bidders – Schneider Electric for $34,400 for breakers and Siemens Energy, Inc. for $44,085 for voltage regulators. 

The City Manager stated claims have been filed for this damage with the City insurance company and some reimbursement is expected when the claim is processed.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and carried unanimously, the Council awarded the purchase of equipment to lowest bidders Schneider Electric in the amount of $34,400 for two substation breakers and Siemens Energy in the amount of $44,085 for three substation voltage regulators.

Councilman Simmons felt the citizens should know that the City is currently using borrowed equipment.

Brooks Kirby stated his thanks to the City of Gastonia for their cooperation in loaning Morganton the needed parts.  The City Manager stated that one good reason to be an ElectriCities member is the cooperation between the cities during storm events and other times.  She pointed out as an example the item on the Consent Agenda for cooperative purchasing which allows the City to get better pricing.

Councilman Cantrell stated that while these were two big amounts which will be reduced by the insurance claim, it is still within budget for repairs.  The City Manager responded yes at this time.  She reminded the Council that it is early in the year and budget may run out.

 

7. Consideration of a Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement for 108 East Meeting Street.

The City Manager stated that William Gresham Orrison requested on behalf of Wisteria Restaurant that the City of Morganton allow a sidewalk encroachment in front of the property located at 108 East Meeting Street for the purpose of constructing a decorative railing across the front of the restaurant for the purpose of dividing outdoor seating from the public way. 

A Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement and drawings were presented for City Council consideration.  The Grantees have developed the property so that it can be used as a restaurant with a small amount of outdoor seating.  In order to offer full restaurant services to the outdoor seating area, it has been determined that the restaurant is required to provide a barrier enclosure between the public sidewalk and seating area.  A tubular steel frame is proposed to provide this barrier.  The staff have reviewed the plans and determined that adequate room will remain on the sidewalk for both the improvement and public passage.  The encroachment agreement also set forth terms and conditions in the future for the encroachment to be removed if it is determined necessary by the City or NC Department of Transportation.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Fleming, and carried unanimously, the Council approved a sidewalk encroachment agreement for 108 East Meeting Street with William Gresham Orrison.

 

8. Consideration of a Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement for 317 North Green Street

Table Rock Contractors, Inc. has requested the City of Morganton to allow a sidewalk encroachment in front of the property located at 317 North Green Street for the purpose of constructing a new handicap ramp into the building. 

A Sidewalk Encroachment Agreement and drawings were presented for City Council consideration.  The Grantees have developed the property so that it can be used as a micro brewery.  Handicap accessibility is required by the State Building Code and the staff have reviewed the plans and determined that adequate room remains on the sidewalk for both the improvement and public passage.  The encroachment agreement does however set forth terms and conditions in the future for the encroachment to be removed if it is determined necessary by the City or NC Department of Transportation

Upon motion by Councilman Hamer, seconded by Mayor Cohen, and carried unanimously, the Council approved a sidewalk encroachment agreement for 317 North Green Street with Table Rock Contractors, Inc.

 

9. Consideration of a Non-Contiguous Annexation Petition Submitted by Maharshi Corporation for 1.7 acres Located at 1150 North Green Street

The City Manager stated the president of Maharshi Corporation submitted a petition to voluntarily satellite annex their property located at 1150 North Green Street into the corporate limits of Morganton.  The property consists of 1.7 + acres and is located directly adjacent to NC 181 approximately 575 feet from the existing corporate limits.  This property is developed as a small commercial center containing a convenience store and several small shops known as Freedom Plaza.  The current tax value of the property is $539,712.  It was recently acquired by Maharshi Corporation.  The property currently has access to City water and sewer service.  It is also within reason to extend other City services in the future.  The City staff reviewed this request and does not anticipate existing City operations to experience adverse operational impacts if approved. 

If the Council wishes to pursue this annexation further, state law requires three immediate steps be taken:

1) The City Council must adopt a Resolution directing the Clerk to Certify the Annexation Petition.

2) The Clerk must Certify as to the Sufficiency of the Petition.

3) Upon certification by the Clerk, the City Council will need to adopt a Resolution Fixing a Public Hearing date upon which the public is invited to express their opinion on the matter of Annexation. 

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Cantrell, and carried unanimously, the Council adopted Resolution #13-26 Directing the Clerk to Certify the Sufficiency of the Annexation Petition received from Maharshi Corporation.

The City Clerk certified the Sufficiency of Petition.

Upon motion by Councilman Fleming, seconded by Councilman Hamer, and carried unanimously, the Council adopted Resolution #13-25 fixing October 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm in the City Hall Council Chamber as a public hearing date to consider this Annexation Petition.

 

10 Consideration to Amend a CDBG Small Business Loan Agreement with Teresa Elaine Kinney and Titus Benjamin Kinney, member owners of Kinney’s Subs LLC dba Motown Deli Grill and Catering.

The City Manager stated the City had approved a CDBG Small Business Loan in June of this year for Teresa Elaine Kinney and Titus Benjamin Kinney, member owners of Kinney’s Subs LLC dba Motown Deli Grill and Catering.  The business is now operational and has begun to generate customers and revenue at the downtown location.  The original business plan submitted to the City anticipated a total start up investment of $40,750.  Due to unexpected contractor delays in opening and the unplanned replacement of a refrigerator compressor, the owners experienced additional startup costs.  The City currently holds collateral and personal guarantees in excess of $30,000.  The owners have requested additional funds in the amount of $10,000 to cover the startup overages in order to fully implement their plan to stabilization.  A loan amendment would need to be approved in order to accomplish this.  This would bring the total loan amount to $30,000. 

The City has set aside CDBG Funds for the purpose of encouraging small businesses that comply with HUD hiring guidelines and City of Morganton Mission 2030 goals. Encouraging entrepreneurial development, downtown revitalization and tourism expansion are all identified as essential Mission 2030 goals for economic development.  This business loan amendment is being recommended by the staff to promote these goals

Upon motion by Councilman Hamer, seconded by Councilman Fleming, and carried unanimously, the Council voted to amend the CDBG Loan Agreement with Teresa Elaine Kinney and Titus Benjamin Kinney member owners of Kinney’s Subs LLC dba Motown Deli Grill and Catering increasing that loan to $30,000

 

11. Consideration of Appointment to the Planning and Zoning Commission

The City Manager stated that due to the death of Otto Woerner a vacancy exists on the Planning and Zoning Commission. 

Citizens who have expressed an interest in participating on this commission include: David Kirk and Kimberly Woolard.

Upon motion by Mayor Cohen, seconded by Councilman Simmons, and carried unanimously, the Council appointed Kimberly Woolard to the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill an unexpired term to expire on June 3, 2014.

 

XII. Other Items from City Manager and City Council Not on Agenda

1. Consideration of Appointments to the Human Relations Commission

Student representatives to the Human Relations Commission are in place for a one-year period, mostly following the school year.  With the onset of the new 2013-2014 school year, new representatives need to be appointed.  Hannah Stancil and Travis Stancil are brother and sister living at 125 South View Street; however, they go to different high schools.  Hannah is a sophomore at Freedom and Travis a senior at Patton.  They are recommended to represent their respective schools

The Mayor appointed Hannah Stancil to the Human Relations Commission to represent Freedom High School and appointed Travis Stancil to represent Patton High School.

 

XIII. Reports – Reports were distributed for information.

 

XIV. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 7:39 p.m.

Preparation of Minutes. These minutes were prepared by Mikela D. Russell, Assistant City Clerk. Copies of all resolutions, ordinances and orders referenced in these minutes are intended to be incorporated into these minutes as if fully set forth herein.  Prior to including them into the official minute book, the minutes have been read and approved by the City Manager and the City Attorney, then distributed to each member of the City Council for further review and final approval, at a subsequent Council Meeting.

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