Clemmons debates medallions on I-40 bridges: Council officially approves fiscal year 2024-25 budget and amendment on Village Point property agreement

Published 12:10 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

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CLEMMONS — On a night when the village’s nearly $14 million budget for fiscal year 2024-25 was officially approved and an amendment to the agreement with Novant Health regarding the purchase of 12.43 acres of land for nearly $2.4 million at Village Point was given the thumbs up, another item on Monday night’s agenda involving much less money took considerably more time along with a somewhat contentious exchange.

It involved a debate on placing medallions — and the design and putting up to 12 of them at a total price of up to $30,000 — on the bridges spanning I-40 at the Lewisville-Clemmons Road and Harper Road interchanges.

Amy Flyte, assistant manager, outlined the possibilities after hearing from NCDOT on bridge improvements, saying there could be up to three 3-foot medallions on both sides of the two bridges at a cost of $2,500 each.

“The first decision is how many we want,” Flyte said, with the price being the first question, followed by design with the shape, colors fonts and other details.

Council member Bradley Taylor started the conversation with his preference for the beautification of the village’s interchanges from the interstate and wondered about some type of signage on the approaches but was told by Village Manager Mike Gunnell that NCDOT typically is “very stringent” on those things and Flyte adding that timing-wise the medallions would need to come first.

Council member Michelle Barson said she agreed with Taylor on the “beautification of Clemmons and signage and other pieces that really show people what you call home and make it a place that you’re proud to share with others are really important, and that I thought this cost would be actually be much more.”

Barson then stated she would be in favor of going all the way with one of the designs and 12 medallions for a grand total of $30,000.

Council member Mary Cameron said she thought it pays to advertise a fantastic community and celebrate it, and “I’m willing to pay for some signs.”

Council member Mike Combest then asked if all of the money would come directly from village funds, and Flyte said that would be the case.

“To me, this is frivolous,” Combest said. “There’s nobody who doesn’t know where Clemmons is. We’re one of the fastest growing communities in the state. One of the reasons is because we spend our money wisely. This is a very low payoff spend of money.”

Barson countered that she wanted to remind Combest of the research he did on painting the water tower when he originally thought that was a poor investment and that his research pointed him in a different direction, asking that he review his findings on that and the community pride and support that it drove.

“Somebody that can show me an ounce of data that says,” Combest replied before being cut off.

“You can show yourself,” Barson said. “You put the report together.”

“That has nothing to do with stance on bridges,” Combest said, adding he “would be favorable if this would show any payoff for residents or businesses. This is purely aesthetics.”

Taylor said he fully supports the idea of going “all in,” and council member Randy Wooden questioned if there was some “middle ground.” Cameron said she could agree to go down to six medallions.

Then Combest came back with asking if this $30,000 could be used to retain or recruit staff members, which Barson said “wasn’t a fair conversation” and Cameron said was like talking apples and oranges.

Eventually, Taylor made a motion to go with Option 2 of the design on the ends and the design of the “Hattie Butner” for the middle for both sides of both bridges for a total of 12. 

Taylor and Barson voted in favor with Cameron, Combest and Wooden opposed.

“The motion fails to carry,” Mayor Mike Rogers said. “Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we back up a step or two? Let’s let assistant manager Flyte continue with her designs, etc., and email them to council, and we’ll come back to council. I don’t think this has to be done tonight. Then everyone can gather their thoughts and come up with a good plan.”

Rogers received council consensus to move this item to the next meeting or following meeting.

First on the business part of the agenda for the Clemmons Village Council was a public hearing, where no one spoke, to adopt the Budget Ordinance and set the Stormwater Utility Fee Rate.

The budget, beginning July 1, 2024, and concluding June 30, 2025, as presented is balanced, using the current property tax of $0.15 per $100 of assessed valuation of $11,960,500 for the General Fund and $1,882,565 for the Stormwater Fund (with the utility fee per equivalent residential unit of $90 per year) — for an overall total of $13,843,065.

Regarding the amendment to the agreement with Novant for the purchase of land adjacent to the Village Point Greenway and Fishing Pier for $2,235,600, Village Manager Mike Gunnell said he was seeking council approval to extend the due diligence period for 30 days to July 12 with the closing to follow.

“That will probably move the closing date as well,” Gunnell said. “We’re still waiting on some information that we haven’t received yet. We did talk to Novant’s representative, and they are amenable.”

The council voted unanimously in agreement.

Funding came from money awarded in the fall of 2023 under the House Bill 259 Appropriations Act when it was announced that Clemmons had been awarded $4.8 million in funding of two installments of $2.4 million each in the 2023-24 budget and the 2024-25 budget.

“We’ve got something in mind initially,” Gunnell said after the meeting. “We’re working on it. We don’t have the overall. We’ll go through a process. We’ll bring the community in on it.”

Also in Monday night’s meeting, the council heard from Jack Frazier, who is the village’s representative on the Triad Municipal ABC Board.

Frazier said that “they have done a better job of keeping the shelves full” after that was more of a problem in the days of the COVID pandemic.

“They’ve done a lot better job of keeping the shelves full,” he said. “They’re getting better deliveries from the state a little more frequent. There are so many stores within the Triad that they have to distribute everything equally.”