Cary, NC — I hope everyone had a great holiday season and a Happy New Year.
Performance Reviews & Interviews
Monday I attempted to contact each council member for questions or concerns about Thursday’s council meeting agenda. The agenda was light so there were not any questions. Later in the day I met with staff to briefly go over the agenda. We anticipated the meeting would be short.
Monday night the council met in closed session for about two and a half hours to give a performance review of two of its three employees.
Wednesday I had an interview with an N&O reporter about our DEI efforts and task force. Our talk lasted about ten to fifteen minutes. I mentioned that Cary has been celebrating and embracing its diversity for decades. We are always trying to better ourselves so we look forward to what recommendations the task force can bring.
Council Addresses 2 Discussion Items in Jan. 13 Meeting
Thursday was the first council meeting of the year. The agenda included six consent agenda items, no public hearings, and two discussion items. The two discussion items were the sidewalk priority list and the joining the FEMA Community Rating System.
Each year, staff compiles and ranks sidewalk requests to provide a list of prioritized projects for Council approval and is based on the Town’s adopted Sidewalk Policy criteria. Three sidewalk projects located on NW Cary Parkway, Wrenn Drive and W. Chatham Street were unanimously approved for funding using sidewalk funds and a $100,000 for contingencies due to higher construction and material costs.
The second discussion item was a resolution to join FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS) which the council unanimously approved. This is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities. The goals of the CRS program align with Cary’s adaptive approach to stormwater, as well as policies in the Imagine Cary Community Plan.
This is good news for Cary property owners in CRS is that they receive discounts on flood insurance premiums. The more credit-earning activities a community participates in, the higher the discount for residents.
The council meeting’s regular agenda only took about fifteen minutes, but the council spent about an hour in closed session.
NC Metro Mayors Start Off New Year
Friday I attended the first meeting of the year for the North Carolina Metro Mayors. Here is a summary of that meeting from the Executive Director:
New Guidance on ARPA funds – Beau and Chris Nida, NCLM Research and Strategic Initiatives Director
- Final ruling issued by US Treasury on ARPA funds was issued last week (guidance link), and there were significant changes, most good for municipalities.
- There is a category of spending eligible under ARP based on “revenue loss due to the pandemic.” The final rule says every municipality may claim up to $10 million of revenue loss OR use a formula to determine the level of the “revenue loss.” “Lost revenue” funds may be spent on any government services, with a few restrictions.
- Please be advised that even though the funds are flexible, there are still reporting or tracking requirements connected to this funding. Be very diligent about what projects you are using these funds for and how it is being tracked.
- A NCLM/NCACC webinar on How to Manage your State Grant will be held on Tuesday, January 25 at 10 am.
- If you have additional questions regarding ARP funding, please do not hesitate to contact Beau or Chris (firstname.lastname@example.org).
General Assembly/State Policy
General Update –
- The legislature reconvened on December 30, 2021 but have only held skeletal sessions. No votes or committee activity has taken place since the start of 2022. The “short session” that convenes in even years would normally begin in May.
- The number of items the legislature can consider is very narrow as outlined in the adjournment resolution and includes things such as veto overrides, appointments, and redistricting.
- Senator Berger has announced the Senate interim committee assignments – Senator Berger Announces Interim Committee Assignments | by Senator Berger Press Shop | Jan, 2022 | Medium
- House Speaker Moore announced the formation of the Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion as outlined in the 2021 budget – Speaker Moore Announces Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion – Speaker Tim Moore
- We expect interim oversight committees to begin meeting over the next month to prepare for the short session. We also expect the Governmental Operations Subcommittee on Use and Distribution of Federal Covid Funding to continue to meet. The Subcommittee’s website can be found here.
NCLM End of Session Bulletin
- NC DOT Summit Jan. 19-20 & Metro Mayor luncheon (Jan. 19 at Noon).
Economic Development – SPECIAL GUEST
- Affordable Housing Update from NC Housing Coalition and New County Profiles – https://nchousing.org/county-fact-sheets/ – GUEST Samuel Gunter, Executive Director
- Every year, profiles for each county in NC are put together to show a snapshot of affordability. Information such as how many households are cost-burdened, how many of those are renters or homeowners, what is the average market rate housing, etc. can be found by accessing the links above.
- A big victory during this past legislative session was addressing the significant gaps in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit development (exacerbated by rising costs). The General Assembly allocated $170 million from the state’s ARP funding to address this gap through the Workforce Housing Loan Program. One of the problems is the final guidance issued from the US Treasury last Friday that disallowed use of the funds for loan programs that extend the use of the funds past 2025, making most loan programs ineligible. This guidance means that we cannot use those funds in the way that they were set up by the General Assembly. NC Housing Coalition and the NC Housing Finance Agency are looking for a fix this problem, but it will take legislative action at the State or Federal level to fix this issue, not a timely solution. Mayors and city leaders may hear from local affordable housing developers that this problem is having a detrimental impact on projects in your city.
- If you have any questions, please contact Samuel at 919-433-6635 or email@example.com.
Public Safety – nothing to report
Local Control/Local Revenues – nothing to report
Lawsuits and impact on 2022 municipal elections – Erin Wynia, NCLM Govt. Affairs Director
- Municipal elections dates (for now…)
- Filing: 8 AM Feb. 24 through noon March 4
Candidates do NOT have to refile if they have already filed for the same seat.
- Primary: May 17
- Second municipal election (proposed by State Board of Elections): July 26
- Please contact Erin Wynia at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 961-6108 if you have additional questions.
Friday afternoon I was interviewed by a N&O reporter about future developments in Cary including the Eastern Gateway and downtown.
Report from Cary’s Deputy Town Manager
The deputy town manager’s report for this week includes:
This was my first week back to work following a family trip to Disney World. I always enjoy visiting Disney as it reminds me a bit of Cary; perhaps it’s their continual pursuit of excellence and their exceptional customer service. One major way Cary excels is in its winter weather preparedness, which we are currently doing in advance of forecasted inclement weather that is expected to impact our area Sunday morning into Sunday afternoon.
Public Works has been working diligently to prepare our roads and anticipate that all major thoroughfares will be fully brined by this evening. They are ready if plowing is needed and will have chainsaw crews on standby in the event of downed trees. Police and Fire are ready to help for any emergency responses. PRCR has cancelled programming and closed all PRCR facilities for Sunday and are monitoring forecasts into Monday. Our Marketing and 311 staff are ready to assist with citizen requests and external communications. Staff from all departments will continue to monitor and make adjustments to operations and services as the weather forecast and storm impact predictions evolve.
As a reminder, Town Hall and most staffed facilities will be closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Town’s annual Dreamfest, a celebration of the life, work, and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., started this week and will continue into next week.
I hope you can stay inside this weekend and watch the weather while staying safe.
Public Safety Update
There are 76 active COVID cases among town employees. This brings the total number of cases to 316 since the pandemic began. 89% of town employees have been vaccinated. 75% of Cary citizens over the age of 5 have been vaccinated.
Record Attendance at NC Chinese Lantern Festival
Cary’s NC Chinese Lantern Festival welcomed more than 200,000 visitors recently, setting a new attendance record compared to 121,645 visitors in 2019. The festival generated more than $5.54 million in direct economic impact according to figures released by the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. The $5.54 million is a conservative estimate that does not include spending from local attendees, nor does it include a multiplier of indirect or induced impacts.
Three Kings Day
On January 8, Cary partnered with Diamante Inc. to present their annual Three Kings Day Parade & Gift Giving campaign. The end of the holiday season in many Spanish and Latin American communities officially ends on January 6, which is the 12th day of Christmas known as Three Kings’ Day. The holiday celebrates the Los Tres Reyes or Three Kings/Wise Men, visit of baby Jesus after birth. This year’s parade celebration featured the Three Kings and 29 participants, most notably Los Rayados, a Mexican indigenous group that showcased Mayan customs and culture. The parade welcomed 1,000 spectators. Directly following the parade, 135 families were given bags of groceries, gifts, and a sweet bread known as rosca del rey.
Crabtree Creek Sewer Rehabilitation Update
Work to rehabilitate the 48-inch sewer pipeline along Lake Crabtree is progressing. The contractor is completing installation of the temporary bypass piping and ground protection mats. Sewer line cleaning is scheduled to begin the week of January 7, which will be followed by installation of cured-in-place pipe liners. With the beginning of more intensive construction operations, the Crabtree Creek Greenway will be closed beginning January 24 through the Spring of 2022 to facilitate construction and maintain safe conditions for the public and contractors.
Greenwood County Officials Visit SCWRF
County officials from Greenwood, South Carolina visited the South Cary Water Reclamation Facility (SCWRF) to see the thermal biosolids drying facility. The group was interested in our facility and utilizing similar technology in their service area. The biosolids dryer at SCWRF has been in operation since 2006 and provides exceptional quality, class A biosolids as classified by the EPA, for beneficial reuse in agribusiness applications.
Town Hall Field Trip
On January 7, students from Connections Academy Middle School visited Town Hall to learn about local government as part of a school project to design a city of their own. While on their field trip, they received a tour of the Police Department, the Traffic Management Center, Council Chambers, Fire Station 9, and Planning.
Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meetings
The following case will be discussed on Feb. 2 at an upcoming neighborhood meeting that will be held virtually on WebEx from 6 – 8 PM. To learn more about the case click on the rezoning name to view the neighborhood letter and vicinity map.
21-REZ-17 Destin Phase 3 Rezoning
For more information and to register visit the Virtual Neighborhood Rezoning Meeting page.
Hybrid Greenway Committee Meeting
Thursday, Jan. 20 at 6 PM
Emails from citizens include:
- A complaint about EMS and first responders not wearing masks (EMS are county employees, first responders are Cary employees)
- A complaint that a Wellington property owner is preventing a neighborhood from getting a daycare on the site
- A request for lights at pickleball courts
- A complaint about the Epic Games rezoning proposal on the mall site
- A complaint about the lack of COVID testing sites (the county allowed WakeMed soccer park to be used)
- A thank you for my service as mayor
- A complaint about the Hatcher rezoning
- A complaint that planes are “flying over and discharging something”
- Complaints about the developer representing the Old Apex rezoning at the neighborhood meeting
Next week’s activities include a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, staff meetings, a meeting with a Congressional candidate, and a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 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.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.
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