Cary, NC — This week included a quarterly meeting.
Recording Messages on Juneteenth and 2021 Graduates
Tuesday I did a taping for a future Cary Matters on Juneteenth at the historic First Cary Church Cemetery. Here is an excerpt from that taping:
“… The Town of Cary has a long history of recognizing and celebrating our diverse history. In the past couple years, it has been an honor to celebrate Juneteenth in our community. This important day commemorates June 19, 1865 when enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas learned about their freedom, two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. Due to poor communications in the United States at the time, the news of the proclamation was slow to spread. Many Freedom celebrations, where Black Americans celebrated their own political and cultural life, preceded the official Juneteenth but it wasn’t much later until the holiday became a significant day of observation in our nation.
In Cary, Juneteenth is a day for reflection, celebration, and observation. This past year, the Cary Council acknowledged the day as an official Town Holiday. We are also recognizing the African American experience in our community through the restoration of historic First Christian Church cemetery. Through this work, we have learned the history of former slaves and their descendants. Including the story of John Beckwith who was born into slavery in Cary and then later became a beloved staff member at the Cary High School. Beckwith is remembered for the large bell he rang to remind students to get to class. His Slave Narrative, noting his time in Cary, is shared by The Library of Congress for future generations. You can learn more about Cary’s African American history by taking the Cary150 African American Tour, located on our celebration website, www.Cary150.org. …”
I did two takes in about ten to fifteen minutes.
Following the Juneteenth taping I did a congratulatory taping for high school graduates. All mayors in Wake County were asked to tape a 10 second message for ABC11 as part of their tribute to seniors.
State of Emergency Ends After 14 Months
Thursday I signed a document ending Cary’s State of Emergency which had been in place since March of 2020. This was the longest State of Emergency in Cary’s history. Here is that declaration:
PROCLAMATION DECLARING THE END OF A STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THE TOWN OF CARY, NORTH CAROLINA
WHEREAS, on March 16th, 2020, I, Harold Weinbrecht, Jr., Mayor of the Town of Cary, North Carolina, declared and proclaimed that a State of Emergency existed within the Town of Cary because of the public health emergency posed by COVID-19;
WHEREAS, events have transpired, including citizens’ compliance with the various State of Emergency prohibitions and restrictions put in place by the State and Wake County and the introduction and administration of COVID-19 vaccines to citizens of the Town of Cary, such that the threat posed by COVID-19 has been mitigated to a point where the State of Emergency has passed.
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as the Mayor of the Town of Cary under Article 1A of Chapter 166A of the North Carolina General Statutes and Chapter 12of the Town of Cary Code of Ordinances, I, Harold Weinbrecht, Jr., Mayor of the Town of Cary, North Carolina, hereby declare and proclaim that the State of Emergency originally declared on March 16th, 2020in response to the public health emergency posed by COVID-19 is rescinded and terminated.
I hereby order that this declaration: (a) to be distributed to the news media and other organizations calculated to bring its contents to the attention of the general public; (b) to be filed with Town Clerk; and (c) to be distributed to others as necessary.
This Declaration shall take effect immediately.
DECLARED this the 13th day of May 2021, at 1:30 p.m.
Quarterly Meeting Recap
Thursday the council held a quarterly meeting. Since the fiscal year begins on July 1st, this was the 3rd Quarter of 2021.
The following were the Quarterly meeting topics and some of the notes I took from each session:
- Cary had a less than 1% increase in COVID cases last week
- 700 of the town’s 1500 employees are fully vaccinated
- Town Hall will be opened in July
- The July council meeting will be open to in-person attendance
Black Creek Greenway and Sewer Rehabilitation Project
- A large sewer main that needs rehabilitating is under the Black Creek Greenway
- The project will include 4 miles of sewer pipes and 2 miles of greenway
- This is a $20 million investment
- These sewer lines impact 75,000 people in Cary and Morrisville. A failure would a major problem
- The project will take four years
- Once completed it will enable other projects to move forward
- Sequencing, minimizing closures, and protecting the environment are key
- Several sections of the Black Creek greenway that flood frequently will be raised
- These sewer pipes move 6 million gallons of waste a day into the North Cary Treatment plant
- The North Cary plant treats 7.2 million gallons a day with a capacity of 12 million gallons a day
- The project will start in the August/September timeframe
- Sewer rehab will be first but will overlap greenway improvements
- Cary has a total of about 1000 miles of sewer lines
- This quarter had 36 development plans approved
- The five-year average for the third quarter was 50 development plans approved
- Cary is getting increasingly more attention in media such as the Triangle Business Journal
- Since the onset of the pandemic, the price of lumber has skyrocketed 280%. The money to build ten homes in 2020 would now only build two homes.
- To meet the mandated requirement that districts be within 5% of each other in population the districts must now have an estimated population of 42,685.
- Consultants and staff presented two options for comments. Option two, which has a more north to south appearance was selected to take to the public for comment. The biggest changes would be in District C and District A if this were approved.
- FY2021 budget was volatile due to the pandemic and stock market fluctuations
- Cary did very well and Raleigh-Cary is currently recognized as the #5 best performing cities in 2021.
- FY2022 budget would start July 1st
- Reduce tax rate to 34.5 cents from 35.0 (about $1.7 million)
- Solid waste fees increase by $1. This will bring cost recovery to 90%.
- The budget is projected to be $400.1 million – 6.4% decrease
- Operating budget $289.1 million – 1.8% increase
- Capital budget $111.0 million – 22.7% decrease
- $14.4 million in bond projects: $13.1 in transportation, $1.3 for parks
- Sales tax is projected to be $41.1 million, $29 million budgeted
- FY2022 will budget $43.5 million
- Property tax is 53% of revenue. More taxes were paid by 3rd quarter than past years
- The downtown multi-modal facility will start, $21 million all paid by Wake County Transit funds
- $18 million from Recovery Plan will be dealt with in the next quarter once guidelines are received
- The town has no decision-making authority in the process
- Town submitted comments on the latest proposal and stays in touch with RDUAA and Wake County – the decision-makers
- We have consultants monitoring issues including the bridge and the environment
At the end of the Quarterly meeting, the council went into a closed session and selected a town attorney. That decision will be made at our next council meeting in May. A 3D model of the downtown park was on display at the Quarterly meeting. Here is a YouTube video created by council member Bush of that model:
The Quarterly meeting and closed session concluded after about four hours.
NC Metro Mayors Recap
Friday I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
American Rescue Plan –Treasury Guidance
- Guidance from the Department of Treasury came out this week – the actual guidance ARP funding-at-a-glance from the NCLM webpage.
- Overall, the spending is not as flexible as we would have liked, however Treasury did clarify that funds could be spent on stormwater and affordable housing.
- Keep in mind that you have until 2024 to spend the funds, leaving plenty of time to plan how to spend the funds and consider fully leveraging other ARP resources and funds under the plan to meet the goals in your community.
- There will be numerous opportunities to learn more about the use of funds – NC Metro Mayors Coalition will be sure to share those opportunities with member over the coming weeks.
- If you have specific questions, please e-mail them to Beau. Beau will be collecting all of the questions to share with the Dept. of Treasury and the White House Intergovernmental Staff.
General Assembly, Update of Crossover Week
- The crossover deadline was this Thursday (May 13). Crossover is the date by which a bill must pass its chamber of origin in order to remain eligible for the remainder of the biennium. Exceptions include local bills, elections bills and bills with finance and appropriations provisions.
- Members and Committee Chairs were more diligent in pressing forward with their bills in the weeks leading to crossover, which means there was not a typical late-night scramble the day of the deadline.
- The House concluded their business on Wednesday and the Senate finished their work before noon on Thursday.
- Negotiations on appropriations continue to take place behind the scenes. Leadership has indicated that the House and Senate are about $500M a part on the target spending number.
- We expect the Senate to release their budget in the next week or so.
Neighborhood Occupantless Vehicle H814
- This bill provides a definition and rules/restrictions for a neighborhood occupantless vehicle (so-called “Pappa Johns bill” – referring to driverless vehicles being used for pizza delivery).
- A neighborhood occupantless vehicle would only be allowed to operate on streets with a speed limit of 45mph or less and would be required to stay in the right lane. It would also require the vehicle to pull over if there were too many cars behind it.
- It passed the House with a vote of 110-2. Moved to the Senate for further consideration.
NC Chamber of Commerce letter
- The primary goal for the Chamber is to encourage the legislature to think about long term financing needs for transportation as as shift to electric and hybrid vehicles will reduce gas tax revenues – often referred to as the “need to modernize financing of transportation.”
- The letter is being circulated to all of the local Chambers of Commerce. Consider reaching out to your local Chamber of Commerce on this topic and encourage them to sign on. NC Metro Mayors Coalition will endorse the letter.
Statewide Commuter Rail Study H343
- This is sponsored by Rep. Alston from Durham.
- We will be helping her with this bill and working to have it included in the large study bill at the end of session.
Bring Business Back to Downtown H781
- This bill would allow cities to adopt ordinances to create social districts and authorize ABC permittees to operate outside of their licensed premises.
- Under the new ordinance, alcoholic beverages could be sold, possessed, and consumed within a social district. ABC permittees would be allowed to utilize an area outside of their license for the outdoor possession and consumption of alcohol sold by the permittee.
- ALE would have jurisdiction to enforce alcohol laws in social districts and extended premises.
- It passed the House with a vote of 103-7 and moves to the Senate for consideration.
- We would encourage you to have your staff look at this bill and determine if there are any changes to improve this legislation. We could propose those changes on the Senate side.
- Modernize ABC Controls S453
- One of the provisions would allow ABC stores to sell products online and would require a city our county ordinance for local ABC stores to participate.
- The bill was withdrawn from the calendar and re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee.
- ABC Omnibus Legislation H890
- One of the provisions would allow ABC stores to sell products online and does not specify that an ordinance be passed by the city or county.
- The bill passed the House with a vote of 100-10.
LRC Study – Affordable Housing H232
- As indicated by the title, this would direct the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) to study affordable housing in the State.
- It passed the House with a vote of 112-2 this week and has been sent to the Senate.
Local Revenues/Local Control
Cities/Prohibited Service Agreements H831
- This bill would prohibit cities from entering into agreements with public water or sewer systems that condition the provision or extension of water or sewer services upon the annexation of the area to be served by the city or water or sewer service district.
- It was introduced to target one town; however, the bill could not be narrowly tailored so it would have been applied statewide and affected a wide range of jurisdictions.
- It passed the House Energy and Public Utilities Committee but did not receive a hearing in the House Rules Committee.
- MMC and NCLM worked diligently to successfully defeat this legislation and ensure it did not progress.
- Property Owners’ Rights/Tree Ordinances H496
- This legislation would repeal any local tree ordinance that wasn’t already specifically authorized by a local act in the General Assembly.
- There are well over 100 municipalities that have an ordinance in place without a state local act. This means they would have to go to the General Assembly to make it legitimate.
- A revised version of the bill gives local governments until June 30, 2022 to seek a local act if one is not already in place.
- It passed in the House 72-43 and is not a strictly partisan issue.
- Since it has crossed over, we encourage you to reach out to your Senators with your concerns about this bill.
Government Transparency Act S355
- The bill would mandate state and all local governments to make the general information surrounding the hiring, firing, promotion, reclassification and performance records of personnel available to the public.
- Bill sponsors say that North Carolina is one of the last states to implement a transparency law like this. There was very little opposition to this bill in committee.
- The Press Association has been a strong advocate for this bill.
- It has been pointed out in several news articles and editorials, that when Governor Cooper served as State Senator Cooper, he sponsored a similar bill.
- It was calendared for the Senate floor on 3 different occasions and ultimately removed each time.
- We will continue to keep an eye on this as we expect it to resurface.
Criminal Justice Reform S300 (included body cameras)
- This is an omnibus bill that makes various changes to the Criminal Code and increases law enforcement standardization and oversight.
- There has been a large amount of bipartisan work done on this bill with broad stakeholder input. (Nearly 30 versions of this bill have been drafted).
- The measure was amended this week to alter the state’s 2016 police body camera law. It would require a law enforcement agency to let the family view unredacted recordings within five business days after a serious police incident that results in death or serious injury. The amendment permits a law enforcement agency or district attorney to petition a judge if it believes the footage should be redacted or withheld from an impacted immediate family.
- The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and has been sent to the House.
Protect City Employees from Retaliation H7
- This bill would have required city councils to adopt an ordinance encouraging city employees to report illegal or improper conduct to their supervisors or other appropriate authorities and to protect that employee from workplace retaliation based upon that reporting. Generally speaking, our metro mayor cities already have personnel policy similar to this, but state law requiring an ordinance is said to create conditions that could lead to more wrongful termination suits being filed. The NC Sheriffs Association was also very public in their opposition to this bill even though it did not include Sheriffs – they opposed it, saying it sets a bad precedent for law enforcement in NC.
- This bill narrowly passed through the House Rules committee with a vote of 11-10 and while on the calendar the last day of the crossover period, it was withdrawn with no explanation as the House began the Wednesday afternoon.
- H7 is not eligible to move after crossover, but we should remain vigilant in case the language appears in another form as the session progresses.
The meeting concluded after about 35 minutes.
No Town Manager’s Report- 5/17/2021
There is no Town Manager’s Report this week.
Emails from citizens this week included:
- Concerns about construction near Valley Side Court off Cary Parkway (staff has responded)
- A thank you for the town’s tree planting initiative
- A complaint about a GoCary driver not wearing a mask
- A thank you for announcing the Public Art Advisory Board’s Creative Placemaking awards
Next week’s activities include a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board, an interview with a journalist from China, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, May 23rd. 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 Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.organd email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.