Harold’s Blog: Transportation Upgrades, Vaccines and More

Cary, NC — This week the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day and inaugurated a new president and vice president.

Wake Mayors Discuss Vaccine Rollout

Monday I attended a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association. In attendance were the mayors of Cary, Fuquay Varina, Garner, Morrisville, Rolesville, Wake Forest, and Zebulon.

Our guest was Wake County Commissioner Chair Matt Calabria. We discussed the vaccine rollout and how we could help in our communities.

In our roundtable discussion, several of us talked about our State of Town addresses and the overwhelming number of apartment proposals in the county. Our meeting concluded after two hours.

Talking with Local Teachers, Students

Wednesday morning I met virtually with Cardinal Charter Academy teachers and students. They provided several questions in advance and asked several questions during the call. Here is a sample of those questions:

  • Why did you decide to pursue this office?
  • What prepared you to be Mayor?
  • What responsibilities are included in your role?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job?
  • Who inspired you and why?
  • Where does the Mayor work and what other business is done in the same area?
  • What is the “purpose” of the government in this community?
  • What other departments fall under the Mayor?
  • How can we help the Mayor make our community a better place?

Our call concluded after about 30 minutes.

Cary’s Transit Center & Road Widenings

Wednesday evening I participated in a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board. The agenda included four consent items, two public hearings, and seven discussion items.

Items of interest for Cary included LAPP (Locally Administered Projects Program) for the Carpenter Fire Station road widening and the Northwest Cary Parkway. We will vote on those later this year.

There was a presentation on the location of the new downtown Cary Transit Center which will be west of Harrison Avenue between the railroad tracks and across from the existing depot. This will be voted on at the February 17 meeting.

Metro Mayors Focus on NC Transportation

Friday the North Carolina Metro Mayors met in their first weekly zoom meeting of the year. Since the Legislature hasn’t started its work, former Raleigh Mayor McFarlane gave a presentation on NC First.

This commission was created in March 2019 by former Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. On January 8, the commission presented a report that includes a recommendation for an additional investment of at least $20 billion over the next 10 years.

The report includes a series of revenue and finance options that will modernize and diversify how transportation is funded. Here is a summary of the presentation that was given to the Metro Mayors:

  • North Carolina’s transportation is a C at best — needs to be at least a B
  • Having average infrastructure will not help us in recruiting jobs

Key Findings:

  • An increased level of investment
  • Need to shift away from the gas tax
  • Need for new state and local revenue and finance tools
  • Need for additional public education

Consideration of highway use tax:

  • Increase the HUT to 5%
  • Eliminate the net-of-trade exemption
  • Recapture proceeds from AHUT

Sales tax:

  • Increase rate by ½% to ¾% and lower gas tax by 9-14 cents
  • Recapture revenues from transportation-related goods and services
  • Tax Ride-Hailing Companies

DMV Fees:

  • Increase electric vehicle fee
  • Adopt new plug-in hybrid fee
  • Study weight-based registration fees for heavy vehicles
  • Authorize Road Impact Fee
  • Change timing of the inflationary adjustment

Long term considerations:

  • Pilot a Mileage-based user program with a plan to fully replace the motor fuels tax by 2020
  • Remove the cap on highway tolling and public-private partnerships
  • Reauthorize and fund the State Infrastructure Bank
  • Authorize Value Capture techniques

Options for local governments:

  • Authorize additional local option Sales Tax for transportation purposes
  • Local Road Impact fees
  • Local Infrastructure banks
  • Authorize Value Capture techniques

Other considerations:

  • Expand broadband
  • Increase debt capacity
  • Appoint a Chief Innovation Officer

The meeting concluded after about 40 minutes.

Town Manager’s Report


The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included:

Manager’s Message to Council

As a follow up from last week, Cary’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) deactivated today. I’m pleased to report there were no issues or disruptions in Cary or neighboring communities as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office on Wednesday. Thank you to our emergency operations center team for working with our regional partners to prepare for potential uncertainties in Cary.

Similar to last week, our Public Safety report will take priority in today’s message.

Stay safe and have a great weekend.


Public Safety Update

View the Public Safety Update from Public Safety Director Allan Cain. If you have any questions, please let me know.

  • As of January 21, cases in Cary are 5,284 which in an increase of 555 since January 14
  • Cary has maintained the fewest per capita COVID-19 cases, which as of January 12 was 30.75 per 1,000 residents
  • Percent positive rate in Wake County is trending down, current 9.7 from 11
  • Wake County Public Health estimates there are 180,000 people in vaccine Groups 1 or 2. However, Wake has received less than 40,000 doses.

Operational Framework & Update

The weekly operational report brings a close to the week’s operational activities. Please take a moment to review the weekly operational report.

Departmental Updates

Included below is a summary-level overview of the operational activities continuing to take place during this health emergency.

  • At the Cary150 Task Force meeting on Tuesday, the History Committee provided an overview of the tours posted to our website throughout the year. The public should anticipate the first tour, African American History, to be released in February. The meeting ended with multiple staff updates regarding an original stage production, Gala logistics, and reminder of the presentations at upcoming advisory meetings.
  • New member orientations were held virtually for the three newest members of the Greenway Committee: Andreia Wehrle, Julia Hoina, and Kat Burkowy.
  • As a next step to help ensure a future successful deployment of electronic PTF’s, HR proactively worked with departments to identify necessary streamlined changes to Naviline authority access. In collaboration with Marketing and Information Technology (MIT), the first round of updates to a small pilot group will be made early next week. Pending pilot results, and addressing any issues as needed, the remaining changes will be made prior to February 12.
  • To ensure ongoing accuracy in our benefit enrollment data, HR staff completed a quarterly audit to reconcile the benefits elections shared between Naviline, our online benefits platform, Employee Navigator, and our benefit carriers. The January 2021 audit was completed with minimal discrepancies. To ensure we are working on the most important things, this quarterly process further validates the need to explore options to facilitate a data between Naviline and Employee Navigator in fall 2021.
  • Wake County and Chatham County received federal funds (CARES) to ease the financial strain to jurisdictions for COVID-19 related spending. This week marked the last reimbursement request submitted to Wake County/Chatham County for pandemic related expenses. Over the past few months approximately $6.3M was spent, of which $3.7M was/will be transferred to Cary. The CARES allocation for spending was recently extended; however, to date no information has been provided to staff on future eligibility.
  • A building permit has been approved for the demolition of the former Cary Mini Mart located at the West Chatham Street roundabout.
  • A Downtown Cary Multi-Modal Center FAQ is now available. Visit the site to learn more about this project, including why a new center is needed and how the proposed project site was selected. If you have a question you would like considered for the FAQ, please email Transit Administrator Kelly Blazey.
  • On Wednesday, Utilities met with their counterparts from Holly Springs to test the Holly Springs water system interconnection. This test was being done in advance of proposed water system maintenance work in Holly Springs to be fully prepared should an emergency water transfer be needed from Cary. The testing also provided valuable information to support regional updates of water system interconnection modeling being conducted by the Triangle Water Partners.

Mayor Leads Virtual Town Hall Field Trip

On Wednesday, Mayor Weinbrecht met with second graders at Cardinal Charter Academy for a virtual Town Hall field trip. Mayor Weinbrecht shared with the students about his job as Mayor and other roles in local government. He also taught the students the purpose of local government and how they can help make our community a better place.

Wastewater Treatment Headworks Analysis

Every five years Cary’s wastewater treatment facilities are evaluated on treatment capabilities and their ability to meet and exceed state issued permits.

The evaluation is called a headworks analysis and it calculates the amount of organics, nutrients, metals and other compounds the treatment plant can safely accept and treat to protect the treatment plant and our receiving streams and river.

This week, a headworks analysis was completed for the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility and was submitted to the State for review.

This updated headworks analysis will allow us to best support our commercial and industrial wastewater customers while always protecting water quality in our streams and rivers.

Additional Information of Interest

We found the following articles to be particularly interesting this week and wanted to share with you for your reading pleasure:

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Several complaints about the litter in Cary (Cary’s SPRUCE program has been suspended due to COVID-19. NCDOT is not picking up trash on roadways)
  • A thank you for the downtown park
  • A complaint that we should review our police policies (We have and will continue. We are acting on the Obama pledge I signed last June.)
  • A complaint about a vehicle revving his engine in the parking deck
  • A complaint about RDUAA’s plan to build a fence
  • A complaint about updating the traffic signal at Academy and Dry
  • A complaint about losing indoor walking at the mall (There will be indoor walking at the new sports complex on that site)
  • Several requests to help citizens get vaccines (Although we are not the decision-makers, we continue to stay in contact with those who are)
  • A request to make vaccines purely voluntary (We do not have authority to do this)
  • A request for the town to not use Twitter or Facebook because they banned Trump
  • A request for food waste collection at curbside

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a student presentation on food waste, my annual State of Cary address, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 31st.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.

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