Cary, NC — Last night, in the only October meeting of the Cary Town Council, a new Senior Advisory Board was established and Cary’s Chief Finance Officer gave a glowing report.
In a brief update, Town Manager Sean Stegall addressed the progress of early voting at Cary’s two one-stop voting sites, the Cary Senior Center and Herb Young Community Center.
“I’m happy to say everything appears to be going well, with the exception of wait times,” said Stegall.
He also offered a reminder to all who will be voting in person on Election Day or in the remaining days of early voting — wear a mask and wait at a distance of at least 6 feet from others in line.
CFO Reports High Sales Tax Revenues & Debt Service Savings
In pre-pandemic times, Chief Finance Officer Karen Mills would present a financial update for the council on a quarterly basis. Now, with the highly unpredictable nature of the economy and the varying impacts to revenue sources, Mills provides a monthly report. These are the latest highlights.
2020 July Sales Tax Up 13% from 2019
Similar to the unexpected good news of the June sales tax numbers reported at the last council meeting, the July sale tax numbers also showed an upward trend.
July 2020 sales taxes revenues exceeded 2019’s revenues by $400,000 or 13%. According to Mills, it is still unknown if these numbers reflect a temporary spike from pent-up demand from the spring stay at home orders or if it is a real reflection of sales growth.
“It seems a little too good to be true, but we are cautiously optimistic,” said Mills.
All in all, Mills says Cary is on a good track with its FY 2021 revenue outlook. In addition to sales tax revenues performing better than expected, permits, fees and utility revenues are remaining on track. The two areas under budget for the town remain Parks & Rec revenue and occupancy taxes.
$8.3 Million in Debt Service Savings
Mills was also happy to report the Town received top-notch AAA bond credit ratings from three separate agencies for both general obligation bonds and revenue bonds. These ratings were particularly helpful this week as they drummed up even higher market interest in Cary bonds.
Though it’s a highly unusual time in the bond market, Mills said bond sales made this week were a great win in refinancing Town debts.
Cary locked in $8.3 million in net debt service savings to be spread over the next 23 years.
Most of these savings will benefit the utility fund, which may lead to minimized future rate increases.
Council Approves Creation of Senior Advisory Board
Over the last several months, the council has requested that Town staff look into the logistics of creating a Senior Advisory Board, a Transportation Advisory Board and a Diversity Task Force. At last night’s meeting, Deputy Town Manager Russ Overton presented the staff’s recommended road map for what an approved Senior Advisory Board could do and gave the council the opportunity to officially take action.
Yerha, Liu Major Advocates for the Board
The initial request to form a Cary Senior Advisory Board, which would specifically focus on senior services and issues, came from Councilmembers Ed Yerha and Ya Liu.
“Before I got on the council, I was doing research related to aging and published over 20 articles related to aging issues. I’m excited for the opportunity to turn academic work into actual policies we can implement in our town,” said councilmember Liu.
According to Town staff, having such a board will increase the Town’s knowledge of senior services and could “promote and enhance an inclusive and connected environment” to support Cary’s aging population.
“By establishing this advisory board, not only will we better serve the growing and evolving segment of our population, but we can also find ways to utilize the talent and experience of our seniors as a resource to serve the town at-large,” said Yerha.
Scope of the Board’s Work
The six key areas town staff recommends the Senior Advisory Board initially focus on are:
- Transportation & mobility
- Communications & community connections
- Health & wellness
- Safety & security
- Emerging issues
Overton recommended the Senior Advisory Board would begin with 7 members with a majority of members being age 60 or above. Liaisons from both staff and council would work alongside the board. The idea that the board would not form until early 2021 was brought up by Overton and Mayor Pro-Tem Don Frantz with the intent to wait until the board could meet in person.
“Personal interaction, I think, is key to a successful collaboration and working together as a body,” said Frantz. Councilmember Jennifer Robinson disagreed, saying that she’d rather it get started virtually, using Zoom.
“I think some fellowship is better than no fellowship and some action is better than no action,” said Robinson.
Following discussion, Mayor Weinbrecht made a motion to approve the creation of the Cary Senior Advisory Board and appointed Councilmember Yerha to be the council liaison to the board. The Senior Advisory Board was approved with unanimous support.
Small Rezoning in Chandler Cove Subdivision
The meeting’s only public hearing was for a rezoning. Portions of two properties, totaling 0.13 acres, have been requested to be rezoned from Resource Recreation (RR) usage to Residential 12 (R-12). These bits of land are part of the Chandler Cove Subdivison that has been under construction for about 8 months.
This new development is adjacent to the Holly Brook subdivision and all construction is estimated to be completed in the next 90 days.
“Rezoning the larger of the two RR areas provides an opportunity to create one additional lot within the boundaries of an already approved subdivision,” said Debra Grannan, Assistant Planning Director.
The developer representative also said the request is a minor boundary modification and is aimed at getting rid of any split zoning within the property. According to Grannan, even after the potential rezoning, the Chandler Cove development would not extend into the Resource Recreation area any closer than where existing utility easements are already located.
With no submitted comments, call in speakers or comments from council members, the rezoning now moves to the Planning & Zoning Board for their recommendation before returning for action by the council.
See Full Meetings, Agendas Online
Of the 1 hour 40 minute meeting, more than half the time was spent in a closed session with no action following.
The next meeting of the Cary Town Council will be their quarterly meeting, scheduled for 12 PM on Thursday, November 5. The following week will be a regular meeting, set for 6:30 PM on Thursday, November 12.
Story by Ashley Kairis. Images screen captured from the live event.
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