The Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners voted to close a public street that is located between two buildings on Davis Street following a public hearing Monday night which drew no comment.
The public street is more of an ally way than a functional street, although it leads to a dead end in between the two properties that it connects to.
Michael Boaz, interim town manager, referred to the street as a “paper street,” meaning that the street appears on maps, although in actuality it doesn’t exist.
Mayor pro temp Linda Needham, owner of a neighboring business, Needham Holding Company, requested that the street be closed.
Ed Woltz, town attorney, explained that once the street is closed, the property will revert to the owners of the two adjoining properties, split down the center.
“It is frankly unclear to me if the town ever had any right of way, following your action, this will clear that up,” Boaz said to the commissioners.
Commissioners Cordie Armstrong and Gary Bell both voted in favor of the closure of the street, Kimberly Quinn voted against the closure. Needham abstained from the vote, which was reverted to a vote in favor of the closure due to procedure.
“The purpose last time was listed as to repair a wall, I think the wall has been repaired. Is there still a need to close the street,” Quinn questioned.
“I guess I honestly don’t have an answer,” Boaz responded to Quinn’s inquiry, adding that he assumes that people use the area for parking.
Other issues that the board of commissioners addressed include:
Minimum Water Billing Ordinance
The commissioners delayed action on a $20 minimum water billing ordinance having requested that town staff work up a proposed ordinance that would allow town water customers the ability to suspend their accounts for a period of time.
The ordinance that Boaz proposed would have allow customers to pay a one-time fee of $20 which will allow them to avoid having to pay a minimum monthly fee when they will be out of town and will not need water services.
When commissioners questioned if the one-time $20 fee would be enough to cover the town’s expenses for turning the service off and back on, Boaz assured the board that it would be.
It is noted in the proposed ordinance that in order to take advantage of the one time fee, the period of time in which the service would remain disconnected has to be for a minimum of 60 days. In addition, the service would only be allowed to be disconnected a total of two times in a 12 month period.
In order to have the service restored, customers would be required to notify the town two working days in advance of when they want the service to be reinstated.
To counter Boaz’s proposal, Bell suggested a $25 fee that would be charged when a customer turned their water off and an additional $25 fee when they turned their water back on. In addition, Bell proposed a $15 monthly fee for each month that the service is shut off. The current minimum monthly bill to simply have the service turned on, but not in use is $28.
Boaz noted that the ordinance would be to the benefit of residents who do not live in Pilot Mountain year-round and for farmers with irrigation meters. Boaz added that all meters are read whether or not they’re turned on.
The commissioners directed the town staff to do further research into the matter and stressed the importance of language that would only allow customers that are “in good standing” will only be allowed to suspend their accounts.
The board of commissioners voted to move forward with financing for the purchase of a new tractor that will be used to mow rights of way. The financing was included in the FY 2016-2017 budget and will total $55,000.
Boaz said that he solicited proposals from several banks, but only heard back from Capital Bank and BB&T.
Boaz recommended that the board vote to approve the proposal from Capital Bank at a 2.28 percent rate on a seven-year loan.
BB&T’s proposal was for 2.41 percent on a seven-year loan.
The town voted unanimously in favor of the Capital Bank loan.
The tractor is listed as a John Deere 5075E Utility Tractor and will replace a Kubota tractor that according to Boaz is stuck in low gear and leaks between one and two gallons of hydraulic oil each time that it’s used.
Interim Manager Contract
The board of commissioners directed Boaz to prepare changes to the current agreement that the town has between Boaz for his town manager services at its July meeting following the urging of Ron Niland of All American Associates.
The changes to the agreement that Boaz proposed included adjusting his annual salary to $68,000, the addition of Boaz to the town’s general liability insurance policy, a contract start date of July 1, 2016 and end date of November 30, 2016 or at the time that a new town manager has been hired, payment into the North Carolina Local Government Employees Retirement System and compensation for mileage and other miscellaneous costs.
Boaz was named the interim town manager on October 1, 2015 following the commissioner’s firing of the town manager at the time. Boaz also serves as the town’s financial manager.
“A quite low rate for that kind of job,” Dwight Atkins, mayor, said of Boaz’s current compensation.
Following confusion from commissioners as to what the former town manager’s salary was, Boaz said that he had taken the $68,000 figure from what he thought to be the former town manager’s annual salary.
“No, but she did not make that,” Armstrong said of the $68,000 that Boaz said former Town Manager Amanda Reid made.
Boaz also receives pay for services that he provides through All American Associates, although according to Boaz, he does not have to disclouse that amount due to the fact that the agreement is between a private business and private citizen.
The town of Pilot Mountain pays a monthly fee of $1,100 to All American Associates.
Currently Boaz is being compensated $42,000 annually by the town for the interim town manager and financial officer services that he provides to the town on a part-time basis.
The commissioners decided to table action on the interim manager contract for a yet to be scheduled special meeting that will also address the hiring process for a new town manager, adding that all parties involved will be issued a copy of the current contract between the town and Boaz in order to clear up any confusion about current fee rates and service agreements.
The next board of commissioners meeting is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
Aila Boyd may be reached at 336-415-2210.