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Council cuts travel, league expenses

 

While the 2014-15 fiscal year budget was presented in last Tuesday night’s meeting, the Clemmons Village Council decided to do some more trimming before next week’s meeting.
It all started with Mayor Nick Nelson proposing to remove the travel reimbursement of $20,500 for the N.C. League of Municipalities and National League of Cities. That eventually led to dropping the town’s membership in the NLC (a savings of $1,600) and eliminating all expenses related to traveling out of town for a two-day annual retreat (a savings of $8,000).
“We have an opportunity to participate wholeheartedly without reimbursement, which is why I suggested Council members’ salaries as source of reimbursement or travel stipend,” Nelson said. “Personally, I don’t ask the Village of Clemmons to reimburse when I serve on other boards. I do think there is a benefit to the N.C. League, but I think we can do that without 100 percent reimbursement.”
Councilman Darrell Roark made a motion to follow through on the mayor’s proposal. It was seconded by councilman Bill Lawry, and after it was brought up to remove another $300 for Town Hall Day, it passed by a 3-2 margin with council members Mary Cameron and Mike Rogers voting in opposition.
Cameron and Rogers have represented Clemmons on the NCLM and NLC. As a part of the NLC’s board of directors, Cameron has served as the state’s lone representative.
“I think it’s short-sighted of us not to be active members,” Cameron said. “We get an enormous benefit from the N.C. League and the National League of Cities.”
Cameron said her suggestion was to keep the budget the way it is for the 2014-15 fiscal year given the fact that the NLC is discussing a new dues schedule and perhaps eliminating dues.
“We don’t know what it’s going to be,” she said. “Also the previous Council approved myself and Mr. Rogers as being members of the board of directors, and we would not be able to fulfill that commitment. That’s an obligation we agreed to — to spend our time and part of our money already.
“We can either not be members of the N.C. League and the National League of Cities and not have our voices heard, or we can be full members and have our voices heard, and make a difference in state and federal legislation that impacts us in a good way or a bad way. You can’t have an impact unless you’re there.”
Nelson countered by saying, “You can still participate.”
Roark added: “I’m not asking taxpayers to reimburse us. I’m willing to do that out of my pocket.”
Following the 3-2 vote (in which councilman Norman Denny joined Lawry and Roark in the affirmative column), Lawry took the opportunity to introduce a motion to drop the membership in National League of Cities.
Lawry and Cameron had waged a war of words about the merits of the NLC in past meetings. Roark and Denny sided with Lawry in a 3-2 vote with Cameron and Rogers opposed.
Rogers questioned why the Village still wanted to keep its N.C. League of Municipalities membership if Clemmons representatives were not going to attend NCLM functions.
“If we’re not going to be going, why should we pay $14,700 to the N.C. League of Municipalities?” Rogers asked.
“We can still actively participate,” Nelson said.
Then Rogers turned his attention to the retreat.
“Again, I asked the question about the retreat,” Rogers said. “I sent an email two years ago requesting we stay at home and save $8,000 a year.”
He then made a motion to do away with all expenses associated with the retreat (hotel, meals and facilitator) and hold it at Village Hall. It passed by a 4-1 margin with Cameron voting against the measure.
The Council then voted to call for a public hearing on Monday night at 7 p.m. to adopt the Budget Ordinance and set the stormwater utility fee rate.
Village manager Gary Looper presented the general fund budget for $5,959,905 and stormwater enterprise budget for $1,046,800. The property tax remains level at 11.5 cents per $100 valuation.
In other business, Looper shared the state transportation rankings and a new scoring process where projects are broken down in three areas — statewide, regional and Division 9.
The Village had the option to select one regional and one division project and allocate a 40-point qualitative assignment with the deadline approaching on June 6. Looper stated there was no guarantee that the allocation of points would change a priority level or lead to funding approval.
He added that his opinion would be to assign the points for Clemmons to the division project with the highest quantitative score that could have the most favorable overall qualitative ranking from the NCDOT Division.
The three division projects that would have an impact on Clemmons on the prioritization list included:
• Widening of Lewisville-Clemmons Road from I-40 to U.S. 158, converting to a four-lane road with a median section (ranked No. 5 out of 39 at the division level)
• Peace Haven/Styers Ferry Road Connector, a new two-lane road with bike and sidewalk and bridge over the Northern Beltway (ranked No. 9 out of 39 at the division level)
• Idols Road Extension, construct two-lane road on new location (ranked No. 12 of 39 at the division level).
The Council followed Looper’s recommendation of the Lewisville-Clemmons Road project but not before Lawry asked to hold off on making a decision until reviewing a conceptual drawing and getting more information. The Council decided to move forward with the looming deadline and voted in favor 4-1 (with Lawry opposed) to send all 40 points to the Lewisville-Clemmons Road project .
The council also:
• Heard from Looper regarding the Village Point Greenway bid. He said that the DOT division bid recommendation had been forwarded to Raleigh for concurrence and that the local Transportation Advisory Committee had approved the increased funding for the greenway. With that action, Council was asked to approve the amendment, and it was unanimously approved.
• Concurred with changing health insurance for the Village from the League to United HealthCare with the same coverage and a savings of $79,000 a year.
• Amended the Appointment Policy with new language to include the applicant for an unexpired Council member term receiving a majority of votes cast shall be appointed.
• Was provided with all applications received at this time for open positions on Village boards, which included current board members wishing to be reappointed and applicants who were not appointed in the past.