Weaverville – Right before the May regular monthly meeting of the Weaverville Town Council on Monday (May 24th), two public comment hearings received no public input. The first was a public hearing on the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget. The budget recommended a revenue-neutral tax rate to compensate for the property tax re-evaluation this year.
The proposed general fund budget for 2021-2022 totals $8,242,392, which is a 10.8 percent (or $806,051) increase over the current year budget. As calculated using the NC Local Government Commission’s established method, the revenue-neutral rate is 35 cents per $100 value. The proposed “…water fund budget totals $2,444,390, which is a 5.2% (or $120,640) increase from the current year budget. This budget does not include any appropriation from fund balance and includes a 4% increase in water rates.”
The two budgets combined amount to $10,686,782, representing a 9.5 percent ($926,691) increase from the current budget.
Land Development Regulations
The second public hearing, updated Land Development Regulations to align with Chapter 160D of state law, also received no public remarks. The council then dismissed the hearings and waited until 7 pm to begin the town council meeting.
Then, the council passed the consent agenda consisting of the monthly tax report (98.33 percent collected) and accepted a public street dedication (Lillie Farm Cove Streets). They passed an amendment to the tax collection agreement with Buncombe County to correct an incorrectly identified town bank account and a code amendment to Chapter 22 of the recycling ordinance. The consent agenda also continued the temporary suspension of the town’s fishing licenses for Lake Louise for another year.
In the town manager’s report, Selena Coffey, Weaverville Town Manager, only presented two items to the board. The first was the US Cellular permanent easement, where the town is requesting the cell company pay $300,000 for a permanent easement to the property near the public works building where the cell tower is located.
“I have made multiple attempts to follow up with US Cellular regarding their proposal and our subsequent negotiations on the cell tower perpetual easement but have received no response at the time of this report,” said Coffey. “I will update Council should I hear from US Cellular by our [next] meeting.”
The town’s upcoming budget workshops are on Tuesday, June 8th at 6 pm at Town Hall and a tentative workshop on Tuesday, June 15th at 6 pm, also at Town Hall. “In the upcoming week, staff will be providing budget-related information that has been requested by council members to date.”
The meeting then entered into the discussion and action items. The council heard the unusual request for a de-annexation of a property at 33 Fairway View Drive. David Hunter, who recently purchased the property, asked the board to vote to send a letter to NC State Senator Julie Mayfield supporting Hunter’s attempt to have the property de-annexed, since the subdivision from which the property will be accessed is not in the town limits. Only the state general assembly has the power to de-annex property once it is inside a town’s boundary.
While most of the council seemed to agree with Hunter, they also thought it would set a bad precedence to support such a move. Therefore, they took no action to oppose or support Mayfield’s attempt to de-annex the property.
The town council next adopted the proposed Land Development Regulations Update. This project involved a substantial rewrite of the town’s development regulations to comply with new North Carolina laws (Chapter 160D) “…with the goal of regulations that are legally compliant, well-organized, user-friendly, and consistent with Town Council land development policy.”
There was also a short discussion of video and audio recording the council meetings and allowing live video access to the meetings via the internet. The desire for such access was said to have been spurred by COVID-19 video meetings. The council took no action to promote public access to live meetings via the internet. It did direct staff to post audio recordings of the session to the internet.
The last thing on the agenda was the Consolidation of the 911 Call Center & Interlocal Agreement Proposal, which Coffey presented to the council. In the discussion, it seems the town council views that Buncombe County wants to charge Weaverville citizens a fee for 911 law enforcement dispatching, which the residents are already paying for as county taxpayers (see more details in article on page 1). The fee is about $56,000 annually. After some deliberation, the board took no action on the proposal. Buncombe County also wants the Town of Woodfin to pay over $100,000 for the service too.
The board then heard reports from the fire department and police departments before dismissing for the evening.