WATCHDOG REPORTS--ARCHIVED

Note:  Current Watchdog Reports are now posted on the CCTA main website at http://cctaxpayers.com



AUGUST 12, 2013
Trent Woods Board of Commissioners Meeting
  
  
Every three years, the Town of Trent Woods is required to have an actuarial valuation done to determine the liabilities associated with the budget item "Other Post-employment Benefits (OPEB)" The Town has provided for Trent Woods employees.  Accordingly, the projected expense related to this was included in the FY 2-13-2014 budget.
  
While reviewing information related to that budget item, the Finance Officer discovered that the town is able to use an alternative measurement method rather than have an actuarial study performed by a consultant.  This is possible because the Town of Trent Woods has less than 100 active and retired participants eligible for OPEB.
  
This alternative measurement method can be performed by the Town of Trent Woods Finance Office, and as a result, the town will save approximately $1500 this year.
  
Abra Cullen, Finance Officer at Trent woods, said the billing will be sent out by the Craven County Finance Office next month.  Miss Cullen has been attending a local Government Financial School and has been the Finance Officer for Trent Woods for five months.
  
Eddella  Johnson
  

CCTA Watchdog for Town of Trent Woods
=============================   

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT
NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN
SPECIAL CALLED MEETING OF 7 AUGUST 2013

Meeting convened at 6 PM with Alderman Taylor being the only absentee.  There was only one agenda item, that being "Discussion of the approved 146-12 easement."  (important to note the word "approved" here).  The meeting was noticed at least on the City's Facebook page on Friday, Aug 2, 2013.  This agenda also appeared on the City website; however, contrary to previous practice, there was not a posting date listed.  Also, it was not published in the online edition of the NB Sun Journal.  My email to the newspaper asking if they received a notice has gone unanswered.    

However, according to the Aug 8 NB Sun Journal article, "Aldermen hold contentious meeting about marina easement",  this meeting was convened for the purpose of someone (board members, public, everyone?) discussing submitting the city's application for a 146-12 easement.  But, we all know that government proceedings and decisions do not rely on the media's interpretations of government documents.   If this easement is truly "approved", why does the agenda item read that the meeting's purpose is for discussion vice announcement of what this approved easement means to the citizens and marina users as well as other particulars about the actual approval?  Particulars such as:  I thought the NCGA had to approve a 146-12 easement?  Did that already happen? 

According to the Sun Journal article, a portion of the reporting developed from interviews with city officials and overheard discussions held in the hallway outside the meeting room and after the actual BOA meeting.  It noted that Alderman Bucher disagrees with both Alderman Outlaw and Mayor Bettis that an actual vote on this matter was taken.  If the easement was approved, how could that be when the local aldermen aren't even certain if they voted the application to be moved along to the NCGA?  Or, if Alderman Bucher is correct that there was not a vote, yet this 146-12 easement is indeed approved, is it now subject to being rescinded?   Why is it acceptable or appropriate for Mayor Bettis and Aldermen Outlaw and Bucher to gnash teeth, outside of the public meeting yet in the midst of some of the public and at least one reporter, over whether a legal vote approving either an application for the easement or the easement itself was taken during a prior City of New Bern board meeting?       

An email I obtained from a city official in February 2013 (when I was seeking info about how the BOA approval for the $30K in total for the City Manager's bonus came to be during a planning retreat) which included the board members' discussion of subject easement and its resulting decisions from the Saturday morning Feb 16, 2013 Board Retreat chronicles the proceedings in these ways:  



(a)  A Feb 18, 2013 email from City Manager Epperson to the Mayor and Board members forwarded Mr. Epperson's notes on the Retreat's proceedings regarding this subject and reads,  

To clarify what the City can and can't do that permits it to apply for this easement now, and to try to validate Mayor Bettis' claim within the last paragraph of the same Sun Journal article that "the city already has the authority to apply for a G.S. 146-12 easement because it was voted on...", may end up requiring a legal opinion on what the meaning of the word "and" is.  I wonder if this will require another expenditure of taxpayer money on yet another out-of-town attorney to render the opinion? 
  • "Discuss application for 146-12 waterfront easement -
  • The BOA discussed the history of the waterfront development directly behind the Double Tree Hotel and the associated easements that have been issued to the marina owner.  There was further discussion regarding concerns over the access to our waterfront and concerns over the current financial status of the marina ownership.  Several members of the BOA expressed concerns over the appropriateness of previous easements being issued by the NC Department of Real Estate. Direction was given to bring forth a future resolution authorizing the Mayor to sign application for a 146-12 easement on behalf of the City of New Bern.  Further direction was given to begin to evaluate the feasibility of the City purchasing the marina."  (Note:  the underline was done by the City Mgr). 

(b)  A Feb 19, 2013 email from Alderman Bengel to City Manager Epperson forwarding her notes about the Retreat reads:
"2. Discussion on waterfront easement
Directed mr epperson to look at purchase of marina and 
applying for 146 -12"


The official BOA minutes of Feb 16, 2013 read: 

(c)  Discuss application for 146-12 waterfront easement
The waterfront easement was discussed. The Board directed Mr. Epperson to look at purchasing the marina and applying for a 146-12 easement." 

I remind the readers that compiling the minutes for the Feb 16Retreat required lengthy, heated Board discussion during two regular BOA meetings (2-26-13 and 3-26-13) and a March 6, 2013 special called BOA session, wherein the City Attorney delivered a brief on what kind of Board member information constitutes minutes (notes, memory recollections, and/or video & audio recordings) and legal public meeting noticing.  Reason being is a similar disagreement arose over whether or not an official vote was taken to approve a $10,000 bonus for each of 3 years for City Manager Epperson.  Recall that the contentious discussions surrounding this previous Board member-and-citizen-contested agenda item also rested on the answer of "who approved what when, if at all?".    Despite all of those discussions, it still took an amended version of the minutes (and an extra 20 minutes to produce the appropriate wording) regarding that bonus vote to receive final Board approval at the March 26, 2013 board meeting.            

It's a shame that there is no City3TV video of this 2013 BOA Retreat, no professionally trained city clerk present that typically records the proceedings that will be voted into official minutes, was no live press coverage and that the only citizen who showed up (expressly to learn what the Board decided about the 146-12 easement, marina purchase and special appropriations' funding) was regular citizen Mr. Tony Bonnici who is presently a candidate for Ward 1 alderman.  He is also one of the original petitioners with the New Bern AWARE group (Against Water Access Right Encroachment) that hired now-Mayor Lee Bettis as their attorney in 2007.  The group's intent was to gain public access to the public trust waters that lie in the City.  It felt that would be accomplished by petitioning that year's Board of Aldermen to have the City file for an easement in the City's name; it did so at the Nov 27, 2007 BOA meeting.  Mr. Bonnici has kept up with and active in this issue unwaveringly ever since.  Unfortunately, to attend this Retreat, he had to find a Tryon Place NC History Center security guard to unlock doors and escort him to the upstairs meeting room where this open, legally noticed, public meeting convened.  If it had been recorded, it would have quickly cleared up two issues that have served to agitate the public and the taxpayers. (There is City3TV video posted for all other BOA meetings beginning with 1st live broadcast Apr 5, 2011, with one exception being the April 21, 2011 special town hall held at the downtown NB Library to discuss the city's intervention of the Duke Progress Merger and its estimated costs.  There is also video of a couple of March 2011 meetings pulled from other sources),  Word to the wise is to check the City website daily for the BOA agenda.

It often times is helpful for citizens to consult the city website under the Development Services Department tab and read the agendas for the other city boards, attend any of their meetings or watch them live, or view City3TV videos regarding issues they find will affect them.   Many of the issues that directly affect citizens, such as issuance of certificates of appropriateness (COAs) and zoning rulings originate during these boards' deliberations.  One of these boards' duties is to make recommendations to the Board of Aldermen prior to the aldermen voting.  Sometimes a solution or answers can be found by contacting overseeing staff members for these boards.  According to a source familiar with issues involving the marina, that advice may have helped in this instance 

The purpose of this meeting was not adjudicated due to members of the gallery disrupting the Board proceedings. Perhaps if the agenda had read, "Board discussion of submitting an application for the approval of a 146-12 easement", the gallery members would not have attended with the preconceived notion that their city government had enacted another done deal that affected an important aspect of their life or with expectations that they would allowed to voice their opinions as well as ask questions, and the meeting would have proceeded with proper decorum and could have been concluded?  Although I do not condone disruption of public meetings, many in the audience live on their boats at the marina and had true concerns for their safety and the environment that their domicile was located within.   For even more info on what transpired after the meeting, please read the NB Sun Journal newspaper article previously mentioned in this report.

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter for NB Bd of Aldermen
Ward 6  28562


CCTA WATCHDOG Continuation -Part Two-NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN CALLED MEETING OF 7Aug1

At 6:19 PM the Mayor solicits Board discussion.  The first question is from Alderman Bucher.  He wants to understand something about any vote for approval the Mayor has just referred to.  He  says that "the Board took a straw poll, no motion, no second.  So, we didn't vote to do this, but we voted to proceed and investigate it.  Is that the recollection the rest of you have?"  Bettis interjects before any of the Board members can answer Mr. Bucher.  The Mayor says, "In order to explain that, I presupposed you'd ask that.  Veronica has printed copies for the Board of the minutes of that meeting (the 2-16-13 Retreat).  Section C of the minutes of February 16, 2013 reads: 
  
"C. Dscuss application for 146-12 waterfront easement
The waterfront easement was discussed.  The Board directed Mr. Epperson to look at purchassing the marina and applying for the 146-12 easement."      
·        
Alderman Bucher retorts, "I don't recall voting, specifically.  I'm interested in what the rest of the Board recollects".  Mayor Bettis shoots back, "the only way we direct the City Manager is by a vote".  Alderman Outlaw offers that "this is exactly what happened verbatim...I was in the minority - I was not in favor... but there was a majority vote to direct the City Manager to proceed..."  It was kind of a direction, not necessarily a vote. 

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter for NB Bd of Aldermen
Ward 6 
====================================
CCTA Watchdog Report- 7August 2013
Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting 5 August 2013

5 AUGUST 2013
My Petition on behalf of CCTA
Petition to the Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting - 5 Aug 13
I'm Hal James, and I am a spokesman for the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. I'm here to ask you not to set up the non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization for economic development that has been proposed by County Staff and the consultant hired to evaluate our economic development program.
These non-profit consortiums between government and private companies have a miserable record of failure everywhere they have been tried.
Let's start with the one involving the state of North Carolina, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. Auditors (thank God for auditors!) found that the nonprofit agency failed to provide proper oversight of millions in grants while paying its president $221,000 annually.North Carolina pays the State Secretary of Commerce $96,394. Additionally, the Center's vice-presidents were paid $130,000 and $120,000 annually. The center had earned $20 million in interest on taxpayer money placed in private banks and was holding it in reserve to pay salaries and benefits to its staff. Now the state of North Carolina is determined to get it back. HEY! IS IT ANY WONDER THESE STRAP-HANGERS LOVE NON-PROFITS!
The Governor called for the president of the center, Billy Ray Hall, and the Board Chairwoman to be replaced. There is a new Sherriff in town!
And what about the wonderful boondoggle of the Randy Partin Theatre in Rocky Mount? Another 501 (c) 3 consortium of government and private enterprise, it wasted God know how much taxpayer money!
Close to home, as a result of what auditors found, the president of the non-profit economic development agency in Lenoir County has been charged with embezzling close to $800,000. After an audit of the local Eastern Carolina Council of Governments, the president and the treasurer (who also ran a non-profit that contracted with these non-profit economic development agencies) resigned. Out of the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that had been loaned out, only 4 of the loans had been repaid! It's only Taxpayer money!
Now we come to the North Carolina Eastern Region which is the inheritor of the legacy of Global TransPark. Its grant writing and business loan talent are no longer in demand, and its staff is fighting to stay alive and employed. They're choosing to do this by transforming into yet another non-profit 501 (c) 3 consortium of government and private companies with the ability to obtain taxpayer money.
I don't know how the various county Boards of Commissioners around the state have escaped culpability for failure to provide oversight of the 501 (c) 3 organizations after taking part in establishing them and then appointing members to serve on their boards.
Just look at this record of these 501 (c) 3 economic development agencies and the multiple ways they have misused and stolen taxpayers' money, and run don't walk away from this.
Thanks for listening.
No action was taken by the Board in regard to my petition.
The Board considered the Language Access Plan
This Plan is to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It affects all "programs or activities administered by Craven County." It benefits people with "Limited English Proficiency (LEA)." It requires the County to:
1)    Promptly identify LEA people.
2)    Obtain qualified interpreters.
3)    Provide written translations.
4)    Provide notice of availability in writing in a language they will understand that assistance is available free of charge, and the free service includes an interpreter.
5)    Monitor language needs and implementation including procedures, reporting, and monitoring.
6)    Resolve any complaints.
Of Course, the Board had "no choice" but to adopt this plan to avoid the wrath of the federal government.
The Board also considered Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
Fair Housing
This program is also covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Language in this policy statement includes: "Craven County desires that every citizen be afforded the opportunity to select a home of his or her choice."
Obtaining these grants requires the county to accept the following Fair Housing Policy:
1)    Receiving, acknowledging and informing the NC Human Relations Commission of all housing discrimination complaints, then assisting the commission in the investigation and reconciliation of the complaint.
2)    Publicize that the Planning Director is the local official to contact with housing discrimination complaints.
Conduct of Officers, Employees, or Agent
No employee, office, or agent of the County will:
1)    Solicit or accept any gratuity intended to influence contract awards.
2)    Participate in the selection of contractors or contract with family members, partners, etc.
3)    Accept gratuities from contractors.
4)    Discipline offenders.
5)    Take action to punish contractors who violate the policy.
Scattered Site Program
Local Economic Benefit for Low and Very Low Income Persons Plan
Requires the County to adopt the following resolutions, guidelines, plans and policies:
1)         Housing Assistance Policy
2)         Housing Work Contract Award Policy
3)         Citizen Participation Plan
4)         Residential Anti-displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan
5)         Local Economic Benefit Plan for Low and Very Low Income Persons
6)         Equal Employment and Procurement Policy
7)         Policy Concerning Code of Conduct
8)         Fair Housing Policy
9)         Policy Prohibiting Use of Excessive Force
10)           Temporary Relocation Policy
All these policies, etc., require the county to do the federal government's bidding on a lot of subjects. The requirements are written on normal printing paper that when stacked together are about a half inch thick. I won't bore you with more detail, but I do have a copy if you want to pursue it.
The feds will spend $750,000 of taxpayer money in Craven County this year on their CDBG Infrastructure Program. That program comes with many strings attached.
911 Radio Equipment Purchase
The final subject I want to cover is the request by Stanly Kite, Emergency Service Director, to obtain funding for 911 radio equipment. This request was for $256,305. Stanley told me after the meeting that vendors pressured him to replace all our 911 equipment with the latest and greatest equipment at a cost of around $4 million! It gets hard to be a good steward of taxpayer money, I am sure! We owe Stanley our appreciation for his efforts to get taxpayers the most bang for our bucks.

Respectfully Submitted,
  

Hal James, Watchdog Committee Chairman
Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association

New Bern, North Carolina, 28560

==============
CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMAN REGULAR MEETING
OF JULY 23, 2013

Agenda item 1. Meeting opened by Mayor Lee Wilson Bettis, Jr. Prayer by Alderman Bucher. Pledge of Allegiance.

Agenda item 2. All Board members and city staff were present. 

Agenda item 3. Presentation of Service Certificates for City Employees.  Brief break for refreshments was taken. 
  
Agenda item 4. Presentation by Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden.
(Ward 2) Lovay Wallace-Singleton, Program Director for the Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden, and a 20 year US Navy ATC (Air Traffic Control) veteran, came before the Board to discuss her request to lease approximately two acres from the City for the purpose of a community garden. The proposed garden will assist disabled veterans through the use of horticulture therapy, as well as assist disadvantaged or homeless veterans with transitional employment. She stated that there are 804 disabled, disadvantaged and homeless veterans within Craven County.  This project is a ten-month program and will begin with assisting 10 qualifying veterans. These veterans will come from four sources:  VA medical centers, homeless shelters, Employment Security Commission and veteran organizations.  The subject property is located in a designated area of Henderson Park at 901 Chapman Street. The organization has requested a 10-year lease at a rate of $2 per year. The City's primary contribution will be the use of this property and some in-kind labor during the garden's existence.  The garden will initially be funded through grants, donations and fundraisers, but ultimately will be self-sustaining through direct sales at the local Farmer's Market and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Sales to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients are also being developed.  The garden will host an open house/community garden day three times per year during the spring, summer and fall seasons.  City staff recommends at least a 5-year lease be granted at the proposed rate. Staff anticipates presenting the Board with a Resolution and Lease Agreement for consideration at its August 13, 2013 meeting.  If approved, New Bern will be the first host city of this type project within the state.   

Aldermen Taylor and White were most interested in the precise location within Henderson Park that would be used as other community youth activities took place very near to where this space sounded it may be; in fact they would like a walk-through tour.  Alderman Bengel asked Mrs. Singleton if the food produced would be available to the community's residents?  The answer was "yes" and that there will be a free food bin available to the community during hours of operation for both city and Craven County residents.   Alderman Bucher asked if there was a vision to grow.  Mrs. SIngleton replied that they were going to ask to set up in Havelock next.   In answer to Mayor Bettis' question, she said that crops could also be grown in the winter under the plastic covered hoop structure.  City Attorney Davis reminded that the Board would be voting on the project August 13th.   

5. Presentation on the NC Certified Retirement Community Program.
Andr√® Nabors, Tourism Development Manager from the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development,  presented information on the NC Certified Retirement Community Program. There are currently six certified communities within the State of North Carolina;  Lumberton, Asheboro, Marion, Pittsboro, Mt. Airy, and Sanford.  Eden just applied. Other states that have used and experienced success from this program are Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Nevada, and Arizona.  The NC Department of Commerce is accepting applications for the program through January 31, 2014. While the City would be the applicant, it would partner with the New Bern Convention and Visitors Bureau to implement the program. Mr. Nabors' presentation discussed the application process, guidelines, and the benefits of the program.  The letter submitted to the city, which outlines all the pertinent details, follows: 

"The objective of the North Carolina Certified Retirement Community Program CRCP is to encourage retirees and
those planning to retire the opportunity to make North Carolina their home and promote the state as a retirement
destination, assist North Carolina communities in their efforts to market themselves as retirement locations, assist in the development of retirement communities and continuing care facilities, and to encourage mature market travel and tourism to North Carolina to evaluate future retirement desirability (per NCGS 443b-431.100).    

"The North Carolina Department of Commerce Community Investment and Assistance Rural Development Division
along with Travel and Tourism have joined resources to provide the tools necessary for Certified Retirement
Communities to attract and encourage retirees to choose North Carolina as their retirement home

"Eligible Guidelines
1.  Must be an incorporated town municipality or city.
2.  Must be able to describe organizing process and why the community has chosen to apply for the certification
Provide any relevant planning including committee structure committee must meet six 6 months minimum
threshold prior to applying
3.  Submit a marketing and public relations plan designed to accomplish the purpose of the program for retiree
attraction
4.  Submit a long-term plan outlining the steps the community will undertake to maintain or improve its desirability as a destination for retirees including corrections to any services or facilities identified in the retiree desirability
assessment.
5.  Describe how local unit of government is engaged with committee.
6.  Describe how committee is engaged with community awareness relative to this effort.
7.  List other partners engaged with the committee.
8.  Submit application fee of $10,000 or the product of 50 multiplied by the population of the community whichever
is greater (50-cents p/person) as determined by the most recent census along with the application.  The fee will be returned if application is denied.
9.  Must be located within 30 miles of a hospital and or emergency medical services.
10.  Must take steps to gain support of churches, clubs, businesses, media and other entities whose participation will increase the program success in attracting retirees or potential retirees.  List steps taken including organizations
contacted.
11.  Submit supporting rational with application not to exceed 15 double-spaced typewritten pages at size 12 font.
Submit in word or PDF format only.
12.  Must establish a retiree attraction committee that shall fulfill or create subcommittees to fulfill the following
     (a) Conduct a retiree desirability assessment analyzing the community with respect to each of the factors
identified in Senate Bill 1627 and submit a report of the analysis.
     (b) Send a representative of the retirement attraction committee to attend any training offered by Dept of
Commerce.
     (c)  Raise funds necessary to run the program organize special events and promote and coordinate the program
with local entities.
     (d) Establish a community image, evaluate target market and develop a marketing and public relations plan
designed to accomplish the purpose of the program.
     (e) Develop a system that identifies and makes contact with existing and prospective retirees that provides tour
guides when prospects visit the community and that responds to inquiries, logs, contacts made and invites
prospects to special community events and maintains continual contact with prospects until the prospect
makes a retirement location decision."

Most of the Board members' questions and comments centered around paying the $10K application fee and would this be a duplication of efforts we are already committing to the branding campaign and the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization).  Alderman Taylor voiced that he was not in favor of this program as it would use funds from the entire body of city taxpayers to perhaps benefit a few.  He further stated that he always makes decisions based on how the entire city will benefit from use of taxpayers' money.  It seems to him that New Bern is already not only a tourist destination, but billed as a haven for retirees.  SInce New Bern already has demonstrated success in these markets, he feels it would be a waste of taxpayers' dollars for the City to bear the burden of the $10K app fee.  Alderman White wants to know how this program will address the problem of keeping young people in the City.  He asks, "what do you do to keep your community thriving once the old people die off?"  Mayor Bettis answers, "well, somebody's got to take care of those old people" (meaning it will take young people to do that job).  Alderman White snaps back, "somebody's got to take care of the young ones, too."  Mayor Bettis then uses Alderman Bucher's method of retirement as an example of who the City wishes to and should be attracting:  someone who retires here then becomes interested in starting three successful businesses in the area.  Alderman Outlaw comments that it would be nice to have background information and cost-benefit analyses from other cities that utilize this program.  Mayor Bettis agrees.  Mr. Nabors repeatedly suggested the City is encouraged to and has the option to solicit community partners for contributions as they also would benefit.  In fact, the pilot city of Lumberton paid nothing and had ElectriCities (our electric power provider that we're in extreme debt to) as one of their partners.  City Mgr Epperson advised the Board that in light of the comments, it would make the most sense to seek financial partners, as the City was indeed invested in the branding program.  Mayor Bettis asked for a show of hands to gauge interest in pursuing this program - all Board members raised their hands in affirmation.   

At this point in the meeting, Mayor Bettis decides to recognize some local political office holders and candidates in the audience:  County Commissioner and wife Johnny and Ethel Sampson (yes, the lady in two Sun Journal articles this week), Ward 2 alderman candidate Micah Grimes, Ward 4 alderman candidate Robert "Chick" Natella, Ward 6 alderman candidate Ashley Smith, and mayoral candidate Tharesa Lee. 

Agenda item 6. Conduct Public Hearing and Adopt Resolution Renaming the 700 Block of A Street and B Street.
"(Ward 1) At the July 9, 2013 meeting, a public hearing was called for the consideration of the renaming of the 700-blocks of A and B Streets. As you may recall, the western portions of A Street and B Street are completely separated from other sections of the respective streets by railroads. Because of this, the western portions of the streets are unreachable from National Avenue during emergencies. Safety concerns have been raised by emergency personnel as it relates to dispatching in a timely manner to these addresses. Therefore, it's proposed that the 700-blocks of both A Street and B Street be renamed to "West A Street" and "West B Street"."  No one spoke during the public hearing.  Passed by unanimous "yes" vote.

Agenda item 7. Approve Police Civil Service Board Register.
Per a memo from Veronica Mattocks, is submitted a listing the register established in order of call. It is recommended that the candidates be submitted for appointment consideration contingent upon successful completion of medical, psychological and truth-verification examinations.  Passed by unanimous "yes" vote.

Agenda item 8. Adopt Resolution to Approve Various Street Closures for National Night Out Event on August 6, 2013 as follows:
a) Lucerne Way between Fort Totten Drive and Queen Ann Lane from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
b) Walt Bellamy Drive between Jones Street and Norwood Street from 6:30p.m. to 8:30 p.m.;
c) Taberna Way between Airport Road and Second Entrance to Neuchatel Road from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.;
d) Metcalf Street between New Street and Johnson Street from 6 p.m. to 8p.m.;
e) Corner of Morton Road and Horseshoe Road from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and
f) 600-block of Roundtree Street from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.


(Multiple Wards) The Police Department has requested various streets be closed to vehicular traffic on Tuesday, August 6, 2013, for the National Night Out event. The neighborhoods that will require street closures are the DeGraffenried neighborhood, Taberna and Cypress Shores. In addition, the New Hope Community, Historic District Residential Association and Craven Terrace/Trent Court communities require street closures.  Passed by unanimous "yes" vote. 

Agenda item 9.  Adopt Resolution to assign the Electric Service Agreement for Hatteras Yachts to a Potential New Owner.  City Manager Epperson introduces this item as coming to the City and therefore, the Board on short notice.  He reminds the Board that the city granted first the Hatteras Yachts then the Brunswick Corporation a special economic development utility rate for 5 years on Feb 8, 2011.  The Board is requested to grant Brunswick permission to assign this same rate to the next purchaser.  The request letter to the City from Brunswick states that "within the next few weeks we intend to enter into an asset purchase agreement whereby we will sell the Hatteras and CABO yacht business to Navis HCY Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of Versa Capital Management, LLC.  Versa Capital is a leading Philadelphia based private equity firm".    Mayor Bettis says this will make it easier for them to sell it so let's do it.  Passed by unanimous "yes" vote.     

 Agenda item 10.   The minutes from the June 25, 2013 Board meeting were approved. 

Agenda item 11. Appointment(s).

a) Alderman Bengel recommends Marvin "Benny" Mullinix be appointed to replace Rodney Knowles' term on the Police Civil Service Board, which expired on July 1, 2013.
b) Alderman Kinsey recommends Mary Ann Harper be appointed to replace Norman Smith's term on the Police Civil Service Board, which expired on July 1, 2013.
c) Alderman White nominated B. R. Walston to the Planning and Zoning Board.

Agenda item 12.  Attorney's Report.  Nothing to report.

Agenda item 13. City Manager's Report.  Mr. Epperson Informed the Board and invited them to attend two orientation sessions the city staff is providing for the new candidates that have filed to run for city public offices.  These sessions will be conducted on August 12th from 3 - 5pm and August 13th from 5 - 7pm.  The city will send out the invitation letters.  

Agenda item 14. Announcements.

a)  Alderman Bucher said it was good to see Fire Dept Chief Aster tonight, as he had been fighting some medical problems.  He also reminded the public about the National Night Out festivities that will occur in the neighborhoods on Tuesday evening, August 6th.  He stated this was an important way to keep crime in check in our communities and a great way to get acquainted with your neighbors.

b)  Alderman Taylor went to the floor's podium to introduce 10 year old Miss Hardy.  He used the overhead to display an advertisement for babysitting services she had handwritten.  He lauded her and her parents for her early entrepreneurial business initiative.  He proclaimed that this little girl was a fine example of New Bern's future business leaders.  He continued by saying, the city spends money on these economic development plans, yet the most important thing we can do to grow business and ensure New Bern's future is to talk with, listen to and encourage our youth to excel.  On behalf of the City, he presented  Miss Hardy with a pin of the city's bear. 

Mayor Bettis broke out in song with the opening-line rendition of Whitney Houston's hit "The Greatest Love of All".   ("I believe that children are our future...")

c)  Alderman Bengel thanked Mark Stephens' Public Works Dept staff for their continued work on the South Front Street streetscape project.  She briefed that the south side was complete and looked wonderful, that the north side was now in progress.  She stated that although this was a 120-day project, it may come in under that at 90 days.  She reminded the pubic that this was MSD funds (Municipal Service District) that were paying for this.  The MSD funds are derived from an extra tax over and above the city taxes paid by downtown property owners for projects that benefitted that district.   

d)  Mayor Bettis thanked the Stormwater Management Division team under Matt Montanye for the success in allleviating flooding issues through their hard work and expertise despite this having been the rainiest summer in a number of years.  He is pleased that this is helping the citizens and the City in reducing property losses and damages.   

Adjourned at 8:37pm.

Rhonda Taylor 
CCTA Watchdog for New Bern Boardd of Aldermen
New Bern Ward 6 

=========================

Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting 15 July 2013


Settlement of 2012 Taxes
Roughly $47 Million taxes were levied for 2012. 98.4% was collected, putting Craven County in the top 15% of counties in North Carolina in collection efficiency.

Assistance by the County Manager's Office. The two presentations discussed below were presented after the regular meeting of the Board, and the County Manager's Office very graciously provided me with the Power Point slides used. (I can present them at a CCTA meeting if you want more detail.)

Public Health Cost Containment Plan
Isn't it interesting how appropriate our study of The Marketing of Evil is? The plan presented is anything but "Cost Containment," though we all now recognize how words are systematically used to make bad things sound good.  Scott Harrelson, Director of the Health Department, gave the presentation. He started with a chart that showed that, over time, thecounty's share of the Health Department budget has gone down to about 22%. He then showed a chart that showed that "Clinic Revenues" are replacing the county tax dollars. Of course, "Clinic Revenues" are provided by Medicaid, Medicare, insurance, Grants, and a little from the patients, meaning, of course, that most of the revenue is gained on the back of some taxpayer somewhere. He then showed a chart that showed the federal taxpayer financial support was way the heck up at 47%! This is progress?

Then came the pitch for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The first advantage listed on that slide was that the Defined Service Area could keep undesirable FQHCs out of our area. Meaning competition would be stifled. Great, huh?   Remind you of anything?   He then added to Medicaid and Medicare income the advantage that employees could pay off their taxpayer student loan debts by working off about $25,000 per year of their debt to the taxpayer by their service to the FQHC.   Wonderful, huh? Good for government employees and bad for taxpayers.

The FQHC would also get 340 B drug pricing. I guess that is good because it is high and not paid by the patient. Wow! How great is that?

Then the real kicker, base funding by the federal taxpayer is $650,000. But, Mr. Harrelson warns, that might not materialize. DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP!

Next Mr. Harrelson told the Board what they would have to do:

            Provide $22,000 to the grant writer. A great grant writer will do it for that!

            Set up a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization as a co-applicant for the public entity application. (The Health Department will also be a co-applicant). I think I am beginning to hate "501(c)(3)" as much as I hate the word, "grant."

            Set up a separate board to oversee services under the FQHC.

Bottom line...
EVERY MEMBER OF OUR CRAVEN COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS VOTED TO PROCEED WITH THE PLAN AND APPLY FOR THE FQHC CERTIFICATE OF NEED.

WOW! ISN'T THAT WONDERFUL?

Now let me give you the real kicker. Before the meeting, I asked Mr. Harrelson if all this profit the county could make (like New Bern does on its electricity utility company) would make it feasible to "privatize" the venture. He said some localities in NC are doing that. The idea never got mentioned in the meeting. I guess staff is not ready for that.

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategic Plan  
will say it surely is "comprehensive."

A presentation was made about this "compressive plan" by Kyle Talente, Vice-President of RKG Associates. No mention was made of North Carolina's Eastern Region, AKA Global TransPark or the potential to recover roughly $1.5 Million dollars of Craven County taxpayer's money to be used for economic development in our county. BUT there was a huge push for funding and staffing (up to 4 staff positions were mentioned, most sounding pretty high salaried).

After working hard to get County control of economic development within the County, and to get rid of the regional approach that had expensive staff and showed very little results, the Board of Commissioners appears to be bent on creating a similar situation again! Without even having received a written report from the consultants hired to make recommendations on economic development, and based on conversations with the consultants, and a slide presentation, they appear ready to buy this expensive venture hook, line, and sinker!

I also suspect, but don't know, that they will want to take the $1.5+ million received from departing NCER and put it into this new 501 (C) (3) joint venture with government and private entities. The consultant advised them to go slow and give a contract (any idea who wants it?) to a consulting firm to provide services until it would cost more to extend the contract than to directly hire staff.

The recommendations made under the title, "Workforce and Asset Development," are either already being done in Craven County or have already been tried and proven ineffective:
            Create a development site inventory- already tried out at Clarks. (This tends to be expensive, a waste of money, and it will be done FREE by a developer when the time is ripe for such a move to be economically feasible.)
            Build a shell building- Didn't we try this once? (Same criticism as the point above.)
            School to work connectivity- Already being done.
            Tie-in Community College- Already being done.
            Implement a business needs survey- Already being done.

The only thing new I saw was a formal existing business retention program. Good idea! Get tax and regulation off their backs! That works every time.

There is to be a meeting this evening at the Convention Center in New Bern of "stakeholders" to receive the same sales pitch as the Board of Commissioners got this morning. Everyone and his brother appears to be a
"stakeholder" except the taxpayer. How does that work? Even though three members of the Board of Commissioners are members of CCTA, so presumably they recognize our perspective as that of taxpayers, we have not been invited. Oh well, I've heard all I want to hear about it anyway. Our Board of Commissioners is tuning up to greatly enlarge government in two ways. So here we go again. And as Raynor points out, the economic development aspect could be handled by decent industrial/commercial real estate agents/brokers for FREE if the tax/regulation/transportation network/workforce elements were handled properly by government.

Respectfully Submitted,
Hal James, Watchdog Committee Chairman
Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association
New Bern, North Carolina
=============================== 

CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN
REGULAR MEETING OF 9 JULY 2013

1. The meeting was opened by Mayor Bettis.   Alderman Bucher offered the opening prayer. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

2. All members of the Board, the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk were present

Agenda item 3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

     a.  Mayor Bettis announced that the first petitioner was Audrey Fields who was to speak on community issues.  She resides on College Way.  She asked for those in the audience who were present to support the issue regarding Mr. James Henry Brown to stand.  She explained that he recently celebrated his 102nd birthday.  She said he may not be the oldest to live in either the city or Craven County, but she and his/her supporters felt his long life was very worthy of "a city proclamation to honor his longevity".  She said she and her group were prepared to accept a denial of the proclamation until they found out that there had been a proclamation awarded to someone who trains dogs. "What makes that person more viable to receive a proclamation than someone who has lived to be 102 years old?", she asked.  Mayor Bettis asked her who denied it?  At that point and after Alderman Taylor prompted her to do so twice, Ms. Fields yielded the podium to Alderman Taylor.  He stated that he gave the city clerk two proclamations:  one to be approved & signed for Mr. Brown and one on behalf of Ms. Valentina Wilson (an anchor for WCTI-TV Ch12).  Ms. Wilson's proclamation was to recognize her work in staging a teen fashion show, for which over 200 people attended,  and providing mentoring to teens utilizing a fashion venue.  Mr. Taylor said that he turned one in to the clerk 3 weeks prior to the event and turned the other in one week prior to the event.  Mr. Taylor said he was informed on aFriday before the event that the Mayor denied the proclamation.  Mayor Bettis dismissed Ald Taylor from the podium saying "no, that was your 4 minutes" to speak.  Mayor Bettis addressed Ms. Fields, saying, "Audrey, in answer to your question, come see me after, no one ever asked me".  Alderman Taylor continues to protest, the mayor gavels him and demands for him "to sit down"; which eventually happens as Alderman Taylor walks up to the dais still protesting that the lack of proclamations is not equal rights and justice and is an unfair and unjust act. 

     b.  The second petitioner is Stevie Bennett of National Ave.  She states that she up there often to ask questions and that she will continue to come up to ask questions until she receives the answers in a complete and timely manner.  She asks numerous questions about the city's Branding Program.  Some of the questions were:  what were the criteria for deciding upon North Star; what were the various branding committees' meetings dates, were their recorded minutes, who was on those committees, who was in attendance at each of these meetings; how many meetings did Aldermen Bengel, Taylor & Bucher attend; what groups were in partnership with the City for branding, how much money have thesse groups contributed; was Craven County asked to contribute, if not - why not, or did they refuse?  She also asked for the list of names and organizations that evaluated the any and all bid responders along with the names & addresses of the companies that submitted bids, a copy of the original Request for Proposal along with its issue date and its submission timeline.  In finality, she asks "why are the taxpayers kept in the dark about this branding program?  This information should be on the city website and the PEG TV channel.  There is no transparency from this Board when it comes to the Branding Program."  This is at least her third time to ask many of these same questions about the Branding Program.  In other words, the city officials are not answering for whatever reason. 

Ms. Bennett continued by reminding the Board that she had also asked some of her Branding Program questions, in addition to others, at the June 11, 2013 Board meeting Petition of Citizens agenda item.  As of tonight she has not received answers to four of her questions.  Diadre can only relay answers that she receives from the various departments, Ms. Bennett says.  She asks how long will it take to get the answers?  So far the responses I have received are less than satisfactory.  She said, "the Petitions are only this administration's mere attempt to answer the citizens with as little information as possible.  I want questions to be answered completely and in a timely fashion".   Mayor Bettis asks her, "does that have all the bullet points on it that you wanted answered?" (referring to the paper she is reading from).  She replies, "I already gave a copy to Diadre". 

Agenda item 4. Adopt Resolution Calling for Public Hearing on Proposed Renaming of the 700 Block of A Street and B Street.
"(Ward 1) The western portion of A Street and B Street are completely separated from other sections of the respective streets by railroads. Because of this, the western portions of the streets are unreachable from National Avenue during emergencies. Safety concerns have been raised by emergency personnel as it relates to dispatching in a timely manner to these addresses. Therefore, it's proposed that the 700-blocks of both A Street and B Street be renamed to "West A Street" and "West B Street"."  Approved by unanimous "yes" vote.

Agenda items 5 through 8 pertained to voting on ordinances to demolish various dwellings that did not meet minimum housing code subsequent to the appropriate legal procedures being executed.  The addresses are 1230 Cedar Street (Ward 2), 1710 Wilmington Street (Ward 5), 202 Poplar Street (Ward 5), and 809 Lees Avenue (Ward 1).

Agenda item 5. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 1230 Cedar Street.
"(Ward 2) The owner of this property was first notified of minimum housing violations in September 2007. Since that notification, the property has changed ownership two additional times. A final hearing was held in April 2013, and the current owner was provided notice of such, but was not present at the hearing. No substantial progress has been made between 2007 and 2013 to bring the property into compliance, including no requests for permits since the recent hearing in April."  Alderman Taylor asks Development Services Dept Dir Jeff Ruggieri if effort was made to get up with the owners via mail.  Mr. Ruggieri answered "yes, we sent certified mails out.  The City ensures we go above and beyond what's required for noticing.  Alderman Bengel asks Mr. Ruggieri if that means that he did not have a good address to reach the owners".  Mr. Ruggieri replied "yes".   Approved by unanimous "yes" vote.

Agenda item 6. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 1710 Wilmington Street.
"(Ward 5) The owner of this property was first notified of minimum housing violations in November 2007. Hearings between the City and property owner were held in July of 2007 and April 2013. In December 2011, the property was affected by fire which made rehabilitation unlikely. No progress has been made to bring the property into compliance."  Alderman White asked Mr. Ruggieri is a chance was offered for someone to buy this dwelling at auction or to fix it?"  Mr. Ruggieri replied, "No, the city is not the interface for negotiations with private property owners".  Alderman White states, "It seems we're gettin' in the demo business, so where's the money coming from?"  Mr. Ruggieri explains that there is a line item in the Board-approved budget.  City Manager Epperson chimes in that we are trying to identify these properties so we can fulfill the directions from the Board to remove these dwellings that have become public nuisances.  At about $10,000 per house, we have included up to $100,000 for removal of these below minimum-standards houses after staff has exhausted all means to get the owner to correct the situation.  We have earmarked between $70,000 to $100,000 per year now from the Development Services Dept for demolitions per the Board's direction.  Alderman White comments, "so we gonna tear 'em down?  Why is it one house can remain for 24 or 25 years, then you look at one being demolished after only 2 to 3 years?"  Mr. Epperson replies that whenever he sees any dwellings that he has questions about to be sure and contact him and he will see about it for him; but we are going through all means prior to issuing a demo order.  He begins to voice the motion when Alderman Outlaw asks Mr. Ruggieri if the city is going to tear down the garage in back that goes with it, also?  The answer was "yes".  Approved by unanimous "yes" vote.

Agenda item 7. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 202 Poplar Street.
"(Ward 5) The owner of this property was first notified of minimum housing violations in February 2010. A hearing was held between the City and owner in February 2011. Following this hearing, the owner filed for a building permit in March 2011 to make the necessary repairs to bring the property into compliance. That permit subsequently expired with minimal work completed. In July 2012, a second hearing was held to which the property owner was not present. To date, no progress has been made and no other permits have been applied for."  City Manager Epperson states there have been recent conversations with the owners of this property, so he recommends tabling this item out of an overabundance of caution.  Alderman Taylor says he heard that the owner did not know about this - he certainly doesn't want to demo it when an owner isn't aware of what is about to happen.  They have further discussion as to who is the owner of record.  (I am choosing not to mention his name).  Once that issue is satisfied, the vote is for approval with a unanimous "yes".   

Agenda Item 8. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 809 Lees Avenue.
"(Ward 1) This property was flooded during Hurricane Irene and sustained damage in excess of 50% of the value of the property. The property will have to be elevated out of the floodplain to meet current flood regulations. A hearing was held on February 14, 2013 to which the property owner was not present. To date, no progress has been made and no permits have been applied for."  Mr. Ruggieri reports that to adequately repair this dwelling to bring it up to code it would take greater than 50% of it's value and the city would then have the cost to elevate it as it is in a flood plain.  Alderman White asks him, "Have you been inside the apartments...?"  Alderman Bucher interjects that he looked at it with Pastor Strayhorn.  He continues, you can tell that alot of drug activity has gone on, it's deplorable inside.  Alderman Bengel says this property/dwelling has the same owner and issues of the property that they talked about earlier, and is in the same awful condition as the previous ones.  Approved by unanimous "yes". 

Agenda item 9. Adopt Resolution to Close Carmer Street for Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church Family Fun Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 20, 2013.
"(Ward 2) Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church has requested Carmer Street be closed to vehicular traffic on July 20, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.for the church's Family Fun Day. This event will include games for the children and food, and the day's events will be held in the church parking lots."  Alderman Taylor says the 102 year old Mr. Brown is a member of this church.  Approved by unanimous "yes" vote.  

Agenda item 10.  Minutes from the June 11, 2013 Board meeting were approved.

Agenda item 11. Appointment(s) Alderman White recommends Kim George be appointed to replace Lois Jamison's term on the Police Civil Service Board, which expired on July 1, 2013.

12. There was no Attorney's Report.

13. City Manager's Report Mr.... Epperson reminded the Board members that he sent them an email that announced that on July 15, 2013 @6 PM at the Convention Center, there will be an update given for the Craven County Economic Development Plan.  They are close to completing that plan.  He said that the contractor, RKG Associates, would be in attendance. 

He reminded the Board that next Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 6PM, there is to be a Board work session.  So far, he has 3 items on the agenda:  (1) the ISO Fire insurance ratings; a rep from the Dept of Insurance will be present to talk about it; (2) a brief update on economic development pertaining to the US Hwy70, Township 7 corridor; and, (3) a dog & pony demo at the new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 521 Hwy 55 on July 16th at 6 PM.  Mr. Epperson then stated there needed to be a motion for this meeting.  Alderman Bengel asked if it could be filmed for City3TV, could someone bring a camera?  Mr. Epperson said he would see if it could be broadcast live as that was one of the improvements that were made to the EOC.  Approved by a unanimous "yes" vote. 

14. Announcements.

a.  Ald Outlaw:   Alderman Outlaw asked to also add the city Branding Campaign to the agenda.  He said that this is one of the issues that the Board has been in the most agreement on.  He said that as long as he's lived here (since 1968) people have asked why the young people were not able to find employment in New Bern after high school and even college graduation.  He felt the Branding program would address that problem.  He further stated that the Branding Campaign gives New Bern and Craven County the opportunity to lead in new marketing and promotion opportunities for the entire area.  He asked for the public to "bear with us until branding gets here and the final results are presented"  (Reporter's comment:  reminds me of Nancy Pelosi's remark that we have to pass Obamacare before we can know what's in it).  He totally supports the idea.  He says New Bern is being progressive like Greenville in doing the branding program.  (Reporter's note:  G'ville has a population of 86,000; a tax rate of 52-cents p/hundred); the city taxpayers are only out $60K because the G'Ville/Pitt Cty Convention & Visitors' Authority are contributing funds & occupancy taxes equaling $30K.  I've interviewed 2 of their points of contact, the G'ville PIO & the CVA rep.  New Bern taxpayers have already spent $92K and the city manager has asked for $75K more, but is not able to specifically state what for as of this date.). 

b.  Ald White:  He adds to Ald Outlaw's remarks on branding New Bern.  We need jobs for youth to come back to, he begins.  "When youth graduate they don't come back...'cause they can't find a job.  We need young people around to keep the city afloat and keep the young people here.  Most people here that had children here, the children are not here."  He says that he best be quiet, this is the most he's talked in a while.  Mayor Bettis encourages him by saying, "...go ahead, fillibuster".  So Ald White continues, "A town for old people is good - and I can say it 'cause I'm there.  (much laughter in the room)  These people runnin' around with the big heads, speakin' their mind  (he then admits that he is known for speaking his opinion at times also) aren't helpin' the people you need to help, they're ruinin' (ruining) it for the youth.  You got to have it in your heart to want the City to grow".  (Reporter's comments:  Did he just call Stevie Bennett in particular, and others in the community - such as myself, those who have written Letters to the Sun Journal Editor - who have called the Branding Campaign into question and/or requested public information an unattractive name of "big headed for speakin' their minds?"  What??  Last time I looked, one of this country's founding principles was for the people to have the right to question their government, especially about what is being done with their taxes.  It is my opinion, based solely on this remark, this man should not be holding and never be allowed to hold public office again!).  Ald White's last statement was a request, "I want to see summer coop programs - a substantial amount - to come (to New Bern) to put money in their (the youth) pockets and get jobs for 'em.  That'll cut down on crime, too".

c.  Ald Kinsey:  Addressing the branding campaign and economic development in the city in general, he says, "I like the direction we're heading in."  He continues, talking about his appointment to the board for the metropollitan Planning Organization (MPO) and claims it will take New Bern far ahead and be an excellent tool to promote the area. 

d.  Ald Bucher - No announcements.

e.  Ald Taylor:  He continues his protests about the mayor not approving the proclaimations for Mr. Brown and Valentina Wilson.  He commended the committee for putting on the James City Fun Day last weekend.  He thanked Dir of Parks & Recreation, Thurman Hardison, about a meeting in Pembroke.  He wished a Happy Birthday to Mr. Brown and asked Mr. Brown's supporters in the audience to stand - again.  He added an interesting tidbit of information regarding the two proclaimations, claiming that the City Clerk tried to reach Mayor Bettis over 3 days to approve/sign the proclaimations, but had no success in reaching him.  He continued by saying that he finally received an answer of "no" on Friday, the 28th.  He said, "If you make a decision on personal reasons it's an unjust".  He also said, "Whoever sit as mayor next must represent the entire city.  It's always right to do what's right".  Mayor Bettis interrupts him, saying that's a tough act to follow.  Alderman Taylor retorts that what he said was no act.      
               
f.  Ald Bengel:  Says she approves and agrees with what Ald Outlaw said about the importance of the Branding Campaign.  She claimed that we will never solve our problems without branding.  People who don't know New Bern will now know it and come.  When they come to New Bern, they see our flag with our wonderful bear and are enticed to stay here.  The branding initiative will be good for New Bern, it will help expose our community to growth. We will not be able to do the things we want to do if we don't have growth.   She says she has talked with the county (she is a recent reappointee to the county Tourism Development Authority) and other partners in on the branding, and states we're in charge and branding is the way to go.     

Agenda item 15. City Attorney Davis says  there is to be a Closed Session to discuss a business relocation issue and a dispensing of real property.

16. Meeting adjourned at  7:54pm
  
Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter, New Bern Board of Aldermen
NB Ward 6 

======================================


CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN
REGULAR MEETING OF 25 JUNE 2013

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Lee Wilson Bettis, Jr. Prayer assigned to Alderman Taylor who yielded to Pastor Loretta Williams. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. All Board members were present except for Alderman Bucher who arrived at7:25pm.

Alderman Bengel asked to change the agenda to accommodate the students from the Epiphany School of Global Studies. They were attending in support of Agenda item #6.

Agenda item # 6. Adopt Resolution to Designate and Appropriate the Bryan-Fordham Cemetery Located on Queen Street.

(Ward 1) In 2006, a group of sixth grade students from The Epiphany School of Global Studies initiated a project to restore the abandoned Bryan-Fordham Cemetery located on Queen Street. Under the leadership of their teacher, Cille Griffith, the group, self-named the Pepsi Cola Kids History Club, were involved with grant writing and funding raising, public presentations and soliciting funds. Thanks to the New Bern Preservation Foundation and the Swiss Bear Downtown Development, the "Kids" were able to raise enough funds to make the brick cemetery walls safer and restore the historical appearance of the cemetery. Over a five-year period, the students completed a major restoration of the cemetery. The resolution recognizes the students' efforts and contributions and also reflects that the City will assume control over the cemetery since all owners have either died or are unknown. Student participants were: Mary Kate Amerson, Chase Ballenger, Ian Chiles, Austin Ferreira, Morgan Gerdes, Zane James, John Mayo, Alex McCunn, Dana McLaughlin, Ford Parson, Kristin Peed, Madison Propst, Morgan Qualkinbush, Holly Radford, Zulay Romero, and Savannah Tart. Alderman Bengel remarked how this was another great representation of a public-private partnership and encouraged other schools and groups to participate in similar projects in the city.

Resolution passed unanimously.

Agenda item #3. Presentation from Muscular Dystrophy Association for the Fill-the-Boot Drive and Proclamation to New Bern Firefighters.

"Each year the New Bern Firefighters participate in the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Fill-the-Boot Drive. Over a period of 11 years, they have raised over $85,850. Christine Bender, District Director, will be present to give a short presentation on the impact the New Bern Firefighters provide in helping the MDA reach their goals. A proclamation will also be read by the Mayor."

Agenda item #4. Presentation of Program for 4th of July Celebration 2013.

Thurman Hardison, Director of Parks and Recreation, outlined the events that are scheduled for the 2013 4th of July Celebration at Lawson Creek Park. Ratio Theatre Company will read the Declaration of Independence beginning at 5pm. From 6:30pm - 9pm the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) Band will perform. Mr. Hardison said it had to be booked one year in advance due to high demand and the city feels privileged to have secured the band for these festivities. Fireworks begin appx 9:15pm. There will be food vendors offering pizza, burgers, hotdogs and sweets. Feel free to bring lawn chairs, coolers (no alcohol or glass), and blankets. The City also prohibits pets, weapons, and personal fireworks of any kind. Bicycles are allowed but they must be walked once one enters the park. For more info call (252)639-2901 or 639-2902. Alderman Taylor has a question regarding boaters. SInce boaters are required to be in by 3pm, what happens if a boater does not come in at that time. The answer was that the boater must wait until after the fireworks show is over, at appx 10pm.

Agenda item #5. Presentation of Police Department's Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) Award.

"The Police Department was awarded an accreditation certificate on March 23, 2013 at the conference of Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Chief Toussaint Summers and Mary Trude, Accreditation Manager, will present the certificate." NBPD was first accredited in 2003.

Agenda item #7. Adopt Budget Ordinance for FY2013-14 Budget.

"A public hearing on the proposed budget was held at the June 11, 2013 Board meeting. Changes have been made to the proposed budget as outlined in the memo from Keith Fiaschetti." Passed unanimously. Alderman White remarked that if he had been present at the June 11th meeting when this came up, he would have voted to approve the budget then, despite the fact that there is always some work that can be done on it, he said. Mayor Bettis stated, "The City is doing excellent financially. A lot of it has to do with Keith (Finance Dir) and Mr. Epperson." Alderman Bengel thanked Keith for spending lots of time with her to explain her concerns with the budget and answer her questions as well as those of several citizens that had requests. Alderman Kinsey said he admired Keith for putting the city first and complimented his staff for their hard work.

Per Finance Dir Fiaschetti's memo, the changes are as follows:

Under the General Fund...

> Governing Board - increased Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow (ACT) (Acct #76102) budget from $4,123 to $14,200. This was offset by a reduction in the Contingency organization budget by $10,077.

> Fire Dept - Merged the Volunteers' organization budget of $43,560 into the Fire Dept, broken down into the following line item accounts: Salaries part-time $12,000 (acct #61151) plus related Fringe Benefits of $2,366; added a Fire Volunteers line item (acct #74954) with the balance of $29,194.

> Sanitation - Decreased the annual debt service $2,661 (accts #77101 & 77201). This was offset by an increase in the Contingency budget.

Under the Electric Fund...

> Debt Service - Increased annual debt service $60,331 to reflect the new Series 2013 revenue bond and revenue refunding bond loan amortization schedules. This was offset by a reduction in the COntingency organization budget.

Under the Water Fund...

> Water Distribution Maintenance - Reduced Kale Road Rent (acct #73115 from $81,798 to $40,899 to properly reflect the systems allocated share of rent. This was offset by a $40,899 reduction to the systems Revenues - Fund balance appropriated (acct #81310).

> Debt Service - Reduced annual debt service $28,845 to reflect the new Series 2013 revenue bond and revenue refunding bond loan amortization schedules. This was offset be a reduction in the systems Revenues - Fund balance appropriated (acct #81310).

Under the Sewer Fund...

> Collection System Maintenance - Increased Kale Road Rent (#73115) from $0 to $40,899 to properly fund the systems allocated share of rent. This was offset by an increase of the systems Revenues - Fund balance appropriated (acct #81310).

> Debt Service - Decreased annual Debt Service $349,958 to reflect the new Series 2013 revenue refunding bond loan amortization schedules. This was offset by a reduction of the systems Revenues - Fund balance appropriated (acct #81310).

Agenda item #8. Adopt Ordinance to Amend and Close Out the Highway 17 South Sewer Improvements Project.

"The Highway 17 South Sewer Improvements Project is complete. The total spending was $23,129 under budget. This amendment will close the project fund and adjust the budgets to the final activity totals."

Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #9. Adopt Ordinance to Amend and Close Out the Neuse Boulevard Water Project.

"The Neuse Boulevard Water Project is complete according to the City Engineer", Jordan Hughes, "and all accounting is finished. This amendment closes out the project fund and adjusts the budget to the final activity totals. Unspent debt proceeds of $553,258 will be used to partially fund the Neuse Boulevard Phase II Water Project." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #10. Adopt Ordinance to Amend the Neuse Boulevard Phase II Water Project.

"The Neuse Boulevard Phase II Water Project was funded entirely with a transfer from the Water Systems fund balance. As indicated in the explanation for the previous item, there are unspent debt proceeds from Phase I of the project in the amount of $553,258. This budget amendment recognizes those proceeds and will reduce the amount of transfer made from the Water Fund balance." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #11. Adopt FY2012-13 Final Budget Ordinance Amendment.

"The Final Budget Ordinance Amendment allows for final budget revisions for FY2012-13 to ensure all projected expenditures have sufficient budget and to realign the revenues to equal the appropriations."

Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #12. Adopt Resolution Closing Lee's Drive to Main Street and Main Street to West Street on June 29, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for United Missionary Baptist Church's End-of-School Event.

"(Ward 1) United Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting an out-of-school event on Saturday, June 29, 2013 and has requested Lee's Drive to Main Street and Main Street to West Street be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m."

Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #13. Adopt Resolution Closing the 1900 Block of St. John Street from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the St. John Street Residents' 4th of JulyCelebration.

"(Ward 2) The residents of St. John Street will be holding a 4th of JulyCelebration and have requested the 1900 block of St. John Street between New Bern Avenue and McKinley Avenue be closed on July 4, 2013 from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m."

Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #14. Adopt Resolution to Close Lawson Creek Park Boat Launch #2 on July 4, 2013 in support of the 4th of July Celebration at Lawson Creek Park.

"(Ward 3) The backside of Lawson Creek Park is hosting the 4th of July events. It is requested boat launch #2 be closed from 11 p.m. on July 3, 2013 to 11 p.m. onJuly 4, 2013. Boat launch #1 as well as the adjacent parking lot will be open from6 a.m. to 3 p.m." As Alderman Taylor brought up in the previous agenda item # 4, if your boat is not brought in by 3pm, you can wait until after the fireworks program. Alderman Outlaw asked to ensure that the proper signage would be posted to show alternate routes and to make the public aware of these closings; he was told "yes". Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #15. Adopt Resolution Accepting 2012 CDBG NC Catalyst Grant and Authorizing the Mayor to Sign Grant Agreement and Funding Approval.

"(Wards 1, 2 and 4) The City has been selected to receive a 2012 CDBG NC Catalyst Grant in the amount of $500,000. The grant will be used to rehabilitate three owner-occupied dwellings, clear and reconstruct three owner-occupied dwellings, and install green infrastructure practices on Third Avenue and K Street. The funding includes $500,000 in grant funds, a $105,000 local commitment, and a $20,000 match from the Coastal Community Action's Single Family Rehab program. This resolution accepts the grant and authorizes the Mayor to sign associated documents."

From the CCA website, the SFA program..."The goal of the Single Family Rehabilitation Program (SFR) is to make a long-term positive impact on the state's stock of standard affordable housing by encouraging the comprehensive rehabilitation of existing, moderately-deteriorated owner-occupied units, occupied by households with one or more elderly and/or disabled fulltime household members or owner-occupied units with lead hazards and a child 6 years old or younger. The funds allow work to be completed on the homes which will bring them up to current code standards thus allowing residents to remain in their homes for a longer period of time. Applicants with household incomes below 80% of the area median income are eligible to apply. Renovation costs up to $56,000 may be completed on any one unit, depending on additional qualifying factors such as lead based paint in the unit. "

The point person for this was Mr. Mike Barnette from David & Associates. Ald Bengel asked if the dwelling at 817 N Craven was a rehab? Mr. Barnette did not know. She reminded that since it is in the Historic District it needed to be rehabbed in accordance with the HPC guidelines. Ald White asked how much money was being spent redoing and how much on demolishing and was the house at 936 Main St the big 2-story house? Mr. Barnette did not know. Mr. Barnette stated that New Bern was one of 14 receivers of this grant out of 64 applicants. Alderman Bengel asked if the local committment was from private source funding or city? City Mgr Epperson replied that there was a city match. When Alderman White asked how the 14 grant receivers were picked, Mr. Barnette told him that the amount of city committment figured signficantly in the awarding. Passed by unanimous vote. The other addresses that will be aided by this grant are 2203 Wake Ave, 1004 Colony Dr, 827 Clark Ave and 613 First Ave.

Agenda item #16. Adopt Resolution Approving and Adopting the Program Plans and Policies for the 2012/2013 CDBG Programs.

"(Wards 1, 2 and 4) Community Development Block Grant regulations require local governments to adopt certain plans and policies for its CDBG programs. The plans and policies are specific to the program year or, in the case of the Residential Anti-Displacement Plan and Relocation Assistance Plan, to the grant. In March of this year, a set of plans and policies were approved by the Board. Due to a need to amend the format to add a summary of the obstacles to affirmatively furthering Fair Housing and the procedure to resolve housing discrimination complaints, the attached set plans and procedures is updated to include the Recipient's Plan to Further Fair Housing." Alderman Outlaw asked for the official definition and clarification of the HUD Community Act of 1974 Section 104(d). Mr. Barnette explained that it meant that the city won't be left having displaced occupants as a result of executing the mission of the CDBG Programs. Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item #17. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the May 28, 2013 board meeting were approved.

Agenda item #18. Appointment(s).

Alderman Bengel appointed Jerry Walter to the Historic Preservation Commission; reappointed Dorothea White to the Planning & Zoning Board; reappointed Kenneth (Kip) Peregoy to the Planning & Zoning Board; and, appointed Peter Adolph to fill the unexpired term of Phil Urich due to resignation.

Alderman Bucher appointed Pat Schibal (sp?) to the Historic Preservation Commission.

Alderman Outlaw reappointed Jeffrey Midgette, Barry Evans and Renee Murphy to the Board of Adjustments.

City Clerk Veronica Mattocks informed the board via memo regarding the following appointments to the Police Civil Service Board:

j) Alderman White is requested to nominate a replacement to fill Lois Jamison's term, which will expire on July 1, 2013;

k) Alderman Bengel is requested to nominate a replacement to fill Rodney Knowles' term which will expire on July 1, 2013; and

l) Alderman Kinsey is requested to nominate a replacement to fill Norman Smith's term, which will expire on July 1, 2013.

19. Attorney's Report. None

20. City Manager's Report. None

21. Announcements. Of the several announcements that were made, this reporter felt this to be the most important. Alderman Taylor requested Public Works Dir Mark Stephens to come to the podium. He asked him what was the meaning of the red flags his department staff left at the curb where a citizen would place their refuse. Mr. Stephens answered that it was his department's proactive effort for the purpose of educating residents who had those red flags posted at their curb as to what refuse was accepted by the city for pickup and what was not. He further explained that there was a check-off sheet on that flagged stake for staff to mark why the resident's refuse was not picked up. Alderman Taylor asked what were citizens to do about disposal of computers and televisions? Mr. Stephens stated they were to be taken to Monette's Grocery in James City. He said these regulations were outlined on the city's website.

22. Closed Session. Ald Bengel called for the closed session to discuss the suit that former alderman Robert Raynor brought against the city over this board's rescinding the 2003 healthcare ordinance that was available to elected officials who served 16 years or more.

23. Adjourned at 8:16pm.

Afterward, City Attorney Scott Davis announced the closed session pursuant to the appropriate NC Gen Statutes for: the Agenda item #22 matter, above; another attorney-client priviledge matter; and 2 potential acquisitions of property issues (could one be the downtown marina?!).

Mayor Bettis asked for the matters other than that of Mr. Raynor's lawsuit be handled first as he didn't have a dog in this fight with Raynor (this is not the first time he has made this remark). This reporter finds that interesting because Mayor Bettis was the prime instigator of rescinding the ordinance that Mr. Raynor is contesting (that the city would provide healthcare to elected officials after 16 years of service). In fact, it was the linchpin of the campaign platform of most members of this current board during the 2009 campaigns. However, at the time that issue was brought before this Board, Mr. Bettis had not yet been granted a vote in all matters before the board by the NC Gen Assembly; i.e., he was not allowed/did not register a vote on this matter. I wonder if the other Board members realized that they would stand alone in defense of their actions on this? A city source has informed me that this litigation by a Raleigh attorney has thus far cost the city appx $20,000.00. This is the 5th case that I know of during this administration wherein the taxpayers have needed to pay for an out-of-town attorney while we also pay the designated city attorney $203,364.00 per year: (Duke-Progress merger intervention: consultation for discussions with ElectriCities and case litigation at the FERC by firms Whitfield Russell and Duncan & Allen; Raleigh, NC attorneys/lobbyists Deans & Miner for Duke-Progress merger matters/electric rate matters at NC Gen Assembly; Raleigh, NC attorney to rep New Bern in Raynor v City of New Bern; and, Raleigh attorney for the Board of Adjustments special called meeting of June 3, 2013) equals at minimum $587,000.00 of taxpayer money.

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter for NB Bd of Aldermen
New Bern, NC Ward 6

 ============================================== CCTA Watchdog Report- 18 June 2013

Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting 17 June 2013
Budget Ordinance

The Craven County budget as approved by the Board of Commissioners on Monday is roughly $97 million for the coming fiscal year. It was about $94,000 at the start of last year. This represents a growth of about 3%, or about half of what I feared. GOOD! The growth can be attributed to "pass through" tax dollars from taxpayers who pay federal and North Carolina taxes. How is that possible with all the belt tightening we hear about? Well, maybe next year if we work hard to communicate with our representatives at all levels of government. In the final analysis, all money spent by government in Craven County is paid for by we the people who pay taxes. Why can't our county elected representatives do more to protect us from that? We need to continue to work to persuade them, and we need to do the same with our state and federal representatives.

Taxpayer Support of Charities


The practice of taking from some citizens in order to give to others continues with this budget. Strangely, the only dissenting vote on the adoption of the budget came from Commissioner McCabe who objected to the curtailment of the practice of providing "congregate meals" to anyone over 60 years of age regardless of any demonstrated need. To quote Commissioner Dacey, "It is not the responsibility of the county to provide food for anyone with a financial hardship." I surely agree, but I think it runs deeper than that. It is not the taxpayer's obligation to provide food for a social meeting with recreation for Harlowe residents or the residents of any other area of the County.
The Craven County Commissioners still think that the "truly needy" should be helped by the taxpayers. That is not a proper function of government, but at least they are trying to restrict it to the "truly needy." (I believe every CCTA member wants the truly needy to be looked after; however, we believe it's the job of families, friends, churches, neighbors, and philanthropic organizations.
Department of Social Services (DSS)

The entire program for DSS needs to be gleaned for practices similar to that of the "Congregate Meals" program. That is, providing taxpayer money to provide services for people who experience some financial hardship, but who are able to provide them for themselves. These programs include: Family Caregiving, Day Care, Special Assistance to the Aged, Smart Start, Work First Transportation, and on and on. THE LIST IS SEEMINGLY ENDLESS!

Health Department
The same can be said for the Health Department. Programs include: Random Moment Study (whatever the heck that is), Camp Seagull, Medicaid Maximization, Child Health, Women Infants and Children (WIC), WIC Education, Communicable Disease, Family Planning, Home Health, Home Hospice, Inpatient Hospice, Cancer Control, Adult Health, Risk Reduction. ANOTHER SEEMINGLY ENDLESS LIST! Are all the people who participate in these programs really unable to provide for themselves in these areas? Really? Or do they just choose to spend time and money on other things?
News Flash: The taxpayers who are forced to cough up money for these programs would dearly love to spend their money on other things! Going to the dentist twice a year instead of just once? Contributing music lessons to a grandchild? Going out to dinner or to a play a little more often? What would you do if you kept a little more of your own money?

Craven Area Rural Transportation (CARTS)
Anyone can ride cheap. They'll even come pick you up when you call, and it's a lot cheaper than a private taxi. I've watched it happen at the physical therapy place, and at least one couple was going to their home in Fairfield Harbor. Truly needy?
Summary

How much do people who are not "truly needy" sponge off of these programs? My guess is that only God knows. At budget time each year, the Board of Commissioners ask the county manager to have the department heads (whose jobs are dependent on the retention and expansion of these programs) for budget requests. THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!! Why not ask them to identify the waste, and money spent on people who could very well do for themselves, in their departments' budgets, and see how much they could cut from their prior year's request??? Why not give an award to the department that reduces its budget by the largest percentage? Why not give a "merit pay" increase of 1% to the employees of any department that cuts its request for funds 3 years in a row?

North Carolina Eastern Region (NCER) aka Global TransPark
Here is the latest scheme for this bunch of bureaucratic straphangers to hang on to their jobs. Take the money that the state took from North Carolina taxpayers and fee payers and put it into a 501 (3c) "non-profit" private corporation. HUH! Thank goodness Craven County's representative, Mark Griffin, blew the whistle. Mark really deserves our appreciation. It cannot have been easy for him to have been the only dissenter. Our North Carolina House Representative, Michael Speciale, thinks the law establishing NCER does not provide for this. I should hope not! THE COMMISSIONERS ARE STUDYING THIS SITUATION.

As an aside, Michael has consistently worked for a government that functions in a constitutionally directed way since he's been in the North Carolina House, and he deserves and has earned our deep appreciation as a result.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
As one example of this program, $750,000 has been earmarked to improve infrastructure in Harlowe and James City. That's a good idea. The infrastructure should function well in all areas of the county, and when something is substandard, money should be spent to bring water, sewer, storm drainage, and the like back into good order. That's not the problem, but shouldn't the State of North Carolina and the County of Craven take care of those things instead of the feds? OUR COUNTRY IS IN A LOT OF FINANCIAL TROUBLE! It's much less cost efficient to send money to the feds and get it back (with strings) than it is to take care of our own in the first place.
We do need to acknowledge and appreciate that the Board of Commissioners has recognized that it is not right to take from all taxpayers and benefit only one family with the keys to a new or renovated house without the property owner having "some skin in the game." That, at least, is a step in the right direction. You will remember that giving away houses to people with nothing from them in return used to be part of what "block grant" money was spent on.
Regional Hazard Mitigation Update

LOOK OUT FOR THIS ONE!! There are more houses in flood plains according to the new FEMA flood maps. This has happened because the assumption has been made that sea levels will RISE significantly. Scientists do not all agree on this; it is a theory only. Just think, a theory will mean MORE REVENUE FOR FEMA, and COST MANY CRAVEN COUNTY HOMEOWNERS BIG BUCKS! THIS IS A SLEEPER (KEPT UNDER COVERS). PLEASE APPEAL TO OUR REPRESENTATIVES ON THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO FIX THIS FOR US. Our Commissioners are being told that they have no choice but to accept the new maps or lose all FEMA flood protection insurance for Craven County residents. THEY ARE VIRTUALLY HELPLESS TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SITUATION!
Inpatient Hospice

An "Interlocal Inpatient Hospice Development Agreement" presentation was scheduled for this meeting, but was quickly deferred until a later meeting. I read this agreement which was attached as an addendum to the agenda, and I have many concerns and questions. I hope to get some answers at Commission Chairman, Scott Dacey's town hall meeting at the River Bend Town Hall today at 4:00 PM. I hope some of our members can attend.
To wrap up on the Budget

The 2013-2014 Craven County budget is much kinder to the taxpayers than those adopted by other recent Boards of Commissioners. We are grateful for that. Much still needs to be done at the federal, state, and local levels of government to really have a taxpayer friendly county budget, but some improvement has begun. The much touted quarter cent reduction in property tax rate is largely symbolic (amounts to about $4.00 on the average house). However, it is a start and does acknowledge that the commissioners would like to help the taxpayers. We have our work cut out for us because the future is uncertain, and our commissioners seem reluctant to make a bold move in the direction of tax reduction for fear of making a mistake that will come back to haunt them.
Respectfully Submitted,
Hal James, Watchdog Committee Chairman
Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association
New Bern, North Carolina

====================================
CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN
REGULAR MEETING OF 11 JUNE 2013

1. Meeting opened by Mayor Lee Wilson Bettis Jr. (yes, he returned after missing 4 BOA meetings. However, he did not say whether or not this was a one time appearance or that he will attend consistently until the end of his term.). Prayer assigned to Alderman Taylor who invited Rev. Andrew Cox to conduct the opening prayer. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call. All members were present except for Ald White. He was excused to attend a graduation ceremony.

Agenda item 3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

For the first time since it's institution, the Mayor did not read the public admonition for speakers to limit their comments to 4 minutes, that the board members would not be responding to any public comments and that the board may/may not choose to ever give them a reply!!

a. Ms. Stevie Bennett of National Ave., asked for a list of the addresses of properties which have liens against them along with the amount of the lien; same for those which have violations assessed & their amounts. {Reporter's note: I would encourage the public to view the June 4th Planning & Zoning Board meeting on the City TV Ch 3 or on the city website @ http://www.newbern-nc.org for edification, noting the changes that Development Services Dept staff are making which will negatively affect income to the city}. She requested the sum total of spending toward the city's Branding of New Bern Campaign as well as an accounting of what the $75,000 will be spent for during its implementation phase. She gave a brief on how the city staff presented this proposal to the Board: that it was to be done in two phases, requiring $82,000. She has now discovered that in March 2013, the city diverted $10,000 from the General Administration budget of both the office supplies/materials line item and the postage line item ($5K from each), (per an email I sent to her that I received on June 4, 2013, in response to separate budget questions I posed first to the City Manager's office, then to Ald Outlaw, who forwarded it to the Accounting Dept on May 23, 2013). And now, she continued, the city asks for another $75,000 from the taxpayers. If this is granted, the total contribution toward the project is $167,000, which is $85,000 more than initially proposed to this board. She asked "how many on this board would have voted to approve this if they had know what the total costs for this effort would end up being?"

She requested the status of her previous request to have a bulletin board constructed and installed at the bottom of the steps of City Hall, to allow those citizens who could not climb those steps to be informed of public city meetings and other government body events. On the subject of the proposed capital project of constructing an elevator for City Hall, she asked why it was going to cost $60,000 for just the architectural design fee? Then she asked if it would be shelved just as the Preservation Plan was. She remarked that it had been 1 year & 8 months since that plan had been finalized yet nothing had been done to implement it. She then asked the board if this would be the same fate for the FY2014 budget line item request for the $75,000 for the implementation phase of the Branding Campaign. Ms. Bennett also asked what would be done with the current tax office space in the Dunn Bldg and it's $100,000 of budgeted monies since it is now to be under the Craven County government auspices. Her final comment was to say that she thought it ridiculous that the city's Land Use ordinance has not been rewritten/revised since 1992.

*Back-story of the City of New Bern Branding Campaign:

> First of all, from the June 26, 2012 BOA meeting minutes regarding the Branding Campaign that Ms. Bennett reminded the board of and asked the details of:

Agenda item "10.

Approve Budget Amendment for Branding Campaign.

Mike Epperson, City Manager presented a power point presentation to the board. In January 2011, the Board adopted strategic goals and objectives for the City of New Bern, one objective of which was "Market ourselves for smart development." This objective was refined during the Board retreat held earlier this year when the Board adopted the objective "Complete a branding campaign for the City of New Bern to assist with recruiting businesses, residents and tourism." Community branding is a process which, using valid research and data collection, helps a community discover its greatest assets and create a platform in order to be more competitive. A working group including representatives from the City, Tryon Palace, Swiss Bear, the Chamber of Commerce, Craven County Economic Development, the Convention Center and Coastal Carolina Regional Airport evaluated potential consulting partners and believes that North Star Destination Strategies is the best firm to help facilitate this branding process. North Star has proposed a two-phase process, and we are asking the Board to approve funding phase one at this time, at a cost of $48,000. Weyerhaeuser Land Development Company is interested in contributing $2,000 toward this effort and is willing to work with local businesses to potentially develop partners to fund phase two, at a cost of $34,000. Alderman Bucher stated the goal for branding should reflect "who we are and why would people relocate as well as bring businesses to New Bern". New Bern is not well known nationally, but only in the state of North Carolina. He has discovered this as he has traveled around the world.

Alderman Bengel made a motion to adopt the budget ordinance amendment for the branding campaign, seconded by Alderman White. Upon a roll call vote, the motion carried unanimously." "

> Per a Nov 21, 2012 interview of NB Public Information Officer Colleen Roberts by the NB Sun Journal, this is who was on the Branding Advisory Committee: "the city's aldermen and staff; representatives from the Convention and Visitors Center, Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, Tryon Palace, Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp, NB Riverfront Convention Center, Committee of 100, and the NB Chamber of Commerce".

> From a Jan 13, 2013 NB Sun Journal article: {boldface throughout this section is reporter's emphasis} "A new phrase was coined to describe New Bern during the first phase of the city's branding process: "coastal river culture." Adam Winstead, project manager of the North Star Destination Strategies consulting firm out of Tennessee, explained the first phase of the branding concept to aldermen Tuesdaynight. The Board of Aldermen agreed in June to pay North Star $48,000 for the first phase of the study and $34,000 for the second "creative" phase. City Manager Mike Epperson said he wants a new brand that would attract visitors, residents and businesses to New Bern. Epperson, city management staff and Alderman Sabrina Bengel had a webinar conference with Winstead on Jan. 17 about the phase one study that lasted three hours because of the detail and amount of information in the plan. {Reporter's question: why only 1 alderman at this conference, who happens to be the one who motioned for this campaign to be funded?}. The first phase focused on the attributes of the city. The consulting firm did a survey of the community, receiving 283 responses, and a survey of Raleigh and Greenville, getting 223 responses, to find out more about the city, residents and businesses and what perception other cities have of New Bern.

The surveys showed the biggest selling point for New Bern is its history, Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center; also, its proximity to the coast, downtown New Bern and the diversity of the people, Winstead said. Other attributes include a strong manufacturing and industrial community; calm, relaxed atmosphere; and the potential for growth, he said. A "branding barometer" the consulting firm arrived at through its research showed a graph where people are very positive about living in New Bern and visiting the city. However, conducting business in New Bern was not as high on the meter, Winstead said. The city faces challenges attracting young professionals and providing jobs. {Reporter's comment: Ald White has mentioned this at many board meetings}. The perception of the community is that the city is "not very friendly" with high utilities and the lack of shopping opportunities, Winstead said. {Reporter's comment: this is news to us?}. The consulting firm recommended starting an economic development plan (which city staff is working on), adding tours of the city and a better night life. One of the best ways to attract business is by improving blighted areas in the city (which the city is also working on), he said. {Reporter's comment: since the city is already doing these things that NStar is recommending, and is aware of obstacles that NStar is pointing out, it appears we are paying $82,000 for confirmation that what we are doing is correct}.

Bengel said, "...the city has limited marketing funds and branding would help spread the word about what the city offers".

Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey said, "...he believes promoting the unique history of the city will give it the most for its money." "

>From a March 31, 2013 NB Sun Journal article: "New Bern is preparing to embark on the second phase of a plan to show off the city's attributes after partnering with four agencies to start the creative portion of a new community brand. Colleen Roberts, New Bern's public information officer, said the city has partnered with The Committee of 100, the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce, Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp. and the Tourism Development Authority to identify and establish a brand that will guide current and future marketing efforts for the greater New Bern area. {Reporter's question: what happened to participation by representatives from Coastal Carolina Regional Airport, NB Riverfront Convention Center, Tryon Palace and Convention and Visitor's Center? Are any of these organizations contributing any money; if so, how much? Any of those Ward 1 MSD funds going to be contributed?}

The city hired North Star Destination Strategies of Nashville, Tenn., last summer to undertake the branding initiative. Branding initiatives typically encompass two phases: research, and then creative development and implementation, Roberts said in a statement. {Reporter's question: If implementation is included, why must the taxpayer's fork over this newly requested $75,000 in the FY2013-2014 budget for what City Mgr Epperson states is for implementation?}. The contract for phase one of the community brand was $48,000. The phase two contract is $34,000. Phase two will encompass all of the artwork, imagination and creative design that will be used to implement the brand. The phase two contract has been signed and should begin later this month, Roberts said. According to North Star, phase two is most successful when the community participates. The five agencies included in the partnership will receive a standard set of logo options, color palette, stationery design, business cards, and PowerPoint templates, slogan development and recommendations for a community-wide portal, Roberts said. The partners also have the option to have North Star create custom items for their agencies, such as design of environmental/outdoor applications, signage, economic development packages, marketing materials, a new website, mobile applications, social media design, etc., Roberts said. {Reporter's questions: What becomes of the Wayfinding Sign program that the city & Swiss Bear had already begun working on, as reported in July 17, 2012 BOA Work Session minutes, which is funded in part by City of NB with in-kind services estimated to be $60,000? Did we just waste the taxpayers state contributions of $100,000, since this project was funded by the DOT grant; or the as yet to be published promised contribution of an unknown amount from the Tourism Development Authority? Is the city needing the $75K for an options package vice implementation? Why can't the city's Public Information/IT Dept handle much of the items in the options package, or even New Bern print and sign companies? Especially as we are currently paying at least $20K for an out-of-town Raleigh NC attorney to litigate the suit former alderman Raynor brought against the city, have paid $20K to 2 Raleigh lobbyists and a Washington DC firm of attorneys & economists $343K to litigate the intervention against the merger of Duke-Progress, and are currently paying the Nashville TN North Star Destination $92K? Is both our county and our town so incompetent, inept, incapable and/or unprofessional that we can't support our own? Perhaps not using our own resources is part of our problem?}. Mike Epperson, city manager, said community branding in New Bern is going to happen. "And we're excited to have the community's support in this important process," he said in a prepared statement. "This partnership represents a promise. A promise that in everything we do, every story we tell, every effort we make to increase residents, visitors, and businesses...we will speak in one community voice."

For phase two, a representative from each organization will participate as part of a design review team that will work closely with North Star. Phase two is expected to last approximately three months, and then the partner agencies will move forward with implementation of New Bern's new community brand, Roberts said.

Susan Moffat-Thomas, executive director of Swiss Bear, said the idea of branding started several years ago when representatives of different nonprofit agencies met monthly to discuss what they were doing and their future plans. The group also talked about branding and how it could be a positive asset for New Bern, she said. But the group did not have the financing to go after a branding campaign, Moffat-Thomas said. When the city hired Epperson as city manager, the idea was pursued again and presented to him and Alderman Sabrina Bengel, who both thought branding had positive attributes for the city.So the city decided to fund the first phase, Moffat-Thomas said. "It will provide an opportunity to market the city and county, in general, for new businesses and put our city on the map, attracting visitors," Thomas said. "Everything is so competitive now you have to work at marketing a city. I really hope this will do that. I'm looking forward to what the outcome will be." " {Reporter's comment: NStar has stated that this is NOT a marketing plan. The city is financing non-profit org's ideas as well as granting them tens of thousands of dollars of special appropriations taxpayer money on a recurring annual basis. Recall from the May 23rd budget workshop that the city will find the need to raise taxes 2 to 3 cents and increase utilities rates by 2015. The city presented a budget for approval with appx 175 items asking to be funded. Not only did it show no cuts to the public, but it added $10,000 to the advocacy/lobbying activities line item for Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow. ACT used to be under special appropriations until this budget}.

> Reporter's Note: The Tourism Development Authority (TDA) is a Craven County government agency. The Committee of 100 is a county organization concerned with fostering economic development within the entirety of Craven County. The only money contributed from Craven County for this Branding Campaign that I have been able to track down is a $2,500.00 contribution from the Committee of 100 that City Mgr Epperson announced during the BOA meeting of 15 Sep 2012. I don't know the funding source for this contribution. At this BOA meeting of June 11, Mayor Bettis reappointed Ward 1 Alderman/mayor pro tem Bengel to the CCTDA.

b. John Serumgard announced the Elks Lodge #764 will be conducting a Flag Day Ceremony at the Union Point Park gazeebo on Sat., June 15 @ 11am. He highlighted that the 2nd MAW Band, the Young Marines, and the Jr. NROTC color guard from New Bern High School would be performing.

c. Heather French spoke her opinions that the board/city should have ALL the facts and carefully consider whether the Pole Dancing Competition was appropriate to be held in our town and whether pole dance classes should be offered in the city's gymnastics or dance studios that cater to young people. She described the events at the competition, which was held at the Riverfront Convention Center and which she attended, as being sexually provacative. Ms. French also challenged the Sun Journal newspaper's portrayal of this event as family-friendly and called it misleading. She rhetorically asked if the pole dancing was to be considered as a family-friendly gymnastics event and athletic competition, why weren't the contestants wearing the traditional leotards and performing under full lighting vice the dim spots and suggestive rock music? She also observed dancers from two Havelock "gentlemen clubs" roaming the halls of the convention center and handing out cards to be redeemed for free lap dances. Her primary objection is that these type activities too easily influence young girls into pursuing a harmful lifestyle of working in strip clubs and sliding into drug addiction.

Agenda item 4. Conduct Public Hearing and Adopt Budget Ordinance for FY2013-14 Budget.

"The required public hearing for the proposed budget for FY2013-14 needs to be held, after which the Board is requested to adopt the annual budget ordinance." City Mgr Epperson said before the public hearing begins he would like to tell of 2 changes that had occurred to the Governing Board's budget category since Mayor Bettis had last seen the budget: the Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow (ACT) budget had been increased by $10K andOnly one person spoke, Edwin Vargas, who is a candidate for mayor; and, the consolidated line item of merging the volunteer firefighters with the city Fire Dept budget. Mayor Bettis then stopped Mr. Epperson because he has been made aware that there were 3 (vice 2) petitions of citizens requests and he sees Stevie Bennett's hand waving in the audience to draw his attention to Ms. Mary Randolph, who wishes to present her petition.

Ms. Randolph asks for somebody from City Hall and/or Public Works to come out to her house and notice that her property is sinking, she is still being flooded by a nearby canal and she had to pay to get her property cleaned up recently while her neighbors surround her with their unkempt properties. She will refuse to pay her taxes if the city does not help her with these issues.

Mr. Epperson continues and restates the two budget additions. Finance Dept Dir Fiaschetti steps up to the podium and says that some debt service with utilities has come down. One is a reduction in the MSD funded Streetscape project due to receiving a lower interest rate.

Mayor Bettis asks Mr. Fiaschetti to confirm that there is now 80 days cash on hand in all utilities funds. Mr. Fiaschetti clarifies that the Water Fund has 81 days, the Electric Fund has 50 days, and the Sewer Fund has 81 days. He continues by reminding that the goal was 90 days, but emphasizes that the current status is a significant improvement over the past.

The public hearing was begun at 7:30pm. The only citizen to speak was mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas, 230 Attmore Drive. He presented an 8-minute power-point on the last 5 years of the city's budgets. He showed that there had been significant increases between fiscal years and considered and presented data where capital expenditures were both included and excluded. He asked where and what are the significant budget cuts to this budget to preclude raising taxes for the citizens to see? He noted that both Havelock and Craven County had made cuts in their budgets, with the county reducing taxes one-quarter cent, prompting him to ask the board, "where have the cuts been made for the city of New Bern budget" or taxes reduced? He recommended the city task the departments to present their General Fund equipment list by prioritizing these items as "need to have, must have, and like to have". He also said the city should avoid funding large expenditure items such as the Emergency Ops Center - Ald Bengel & Outlaw voted no to this expenditure. Also, the Duke-Progress merger intervention litigation, which was appx $363, and for which the citizens have received no board briefing as to what they can look forward to in the way of lower electric bills or what other benefits were gained for this large expenditure which was funded via more than 20 closed sessions) during the budget year. Another suggestion from him was to cut special appropriations amounts by 10%. He believes the data shows that if his recommendations were acted upon and these savings made in the current FY2013 budget, fees would have been reduced or eliminated beginning

July 1, 2013 for leaf & limb, garbage, city pool daily use, convenience fees for on-line payment services, cemetary charges for weekends & holidays, or services from the Development Services Dept.

After the closing of the public hearing, Ald Bucher moved to adopt the budget but received no second. After a long pause, Mayor Bettis asked "can I second stuff?" City Atty Davis said no. Ald Bengel made an alternate motion to table the vote until the next regularly scheduled meeting. Her motion received no second either. Ald Outlaw said he would like to enter a substitute motion to schedule another budget workshop before the next meeting, but that he was not indicating that he disapproved of the entire budget. Ald Bengel said she had additional questions on a couple things, which is why she wanted to table the vote until next week. Mayor Bettis asked Mr. Davis for direction; he replies there are not motions on the floor, prompting Mayor Bettis to exclaim "Hey, let's have a workshop!" He asked Ald Outlaw if he has a list of concerns? It would be a great idea if the board members who have questions/concerns to write them down so staff has time to prepare their responses. Ald Bengel then motions for a special called meeting to conduct a budget workshop next Tuesday night at6pm. Ald Outlaw seconded. Then Ald Bucher says, "Some of us have other things to do in our lives. Next Tuesday at 6:30pm is a National Night Out meeting at the Police substation in the Mall that I was planning on attending". Ald Bengel asks ifMonday the 17th is preferrable? Mr. Davis states the board must give 10 days notice to conduct another budget hearing, which is required prior to adoption of a budget. Changes to the staff would need to be given the 14th. Now, noone is available on Wednesday nights except Mayor Bettis and Mr. Epperson says he will be out of town on Thursday and Friday. There were a couple of alternatives thrown out. Mr. Epperson suggested the board discuss their concerns tonight so they don't "get bogged down with seven different ideas at the next meeting" for this budget. The board decided to discuss their concerns, which amounted to being over continued using of the utility enterprise funds (Outlaw) and the merging of the volunteer firefighters with the city Fire Dept (Bengel & Outlaw).

Ald Outlaw said he had recently talked with the NC Dept of Insurance about the threat of raising fire insurance rates as a result of the city's number of fire stations and response times. His main concern is about water, sewer, and electric funds and especially water and sewer funds and all the transfers to the General Fund. He claims that with a new fire station or stations, those water and sewer rates could go higher. His second concern is with mutual aid calls out of Thurman Rd, how much equipment do we really need? If the money is not there already, the city will have to raid the water and sewer funds. The volunteer firefighters always save the city money; therefore, we would be remiss in not discussing as to how the volunteers are treated regarding their benefits and the possibility of terminating them by merging them with the city's Fire Dept. He would prefer to discuss a plan B regarding building any new fire stations and sticking the new board with a 2 to 3-cent tax increase.

Mayor Bettis asks, "So you want an inspector from the Insurance Bureau" at this workshop? Ald Outlaw replies that he can answer most of the questions, based on his conversations with that department. Ald Bengel has concerns about the merging of the budgets of the volunteers with the city Fire Dept. She said she did not necessarily need a workshop but she did need questions answered. Mr. Epperson calls Fire Chief Bobby Aster to the podium and they have a lengthy discussion about the budgets merging. Afterward, Ald Bengel says her second concern is about Finance Dir Fiaschetti's presentation tonight on utilities budgets changes and savings. She needs time to digest that information and understand the debt and funds transfers - that she doesn't necessarily need a workshop now. Mayor Bettis asks each board member if they have additional questions or are ready to vote. Ald Taylor is ready to vote. Ald Bucher says, "I made the motion. We spent many hours during May in budget workshops. All of us had an opportunity to digest and understand. I don't need a another workshop". Ald Kinsey says Ald Outlaw covered the things he had in mind. He does want to make sure that the info and numbers are accurate from Epperson and Fiaschetti. Ald Outlaw says he's concerned about the timetable concerning the capital improvements projects. Mr. Epperson reminds him that they talked about having a July workshop focusing on those.

After Ald Outlaw and Ald Bengel begin discussing their concerns over the volunteers firefighters' benefits and funds, Chief Aster is called up again to discuss the various funds. After some time on this, Ald Bengel motions to rescind her motion for a special called meeting on the budget. At 8:15pm, Ald Bucher motions to adopt the budget with Ald Kinsey seconding. During discussion, Ald Outlaw interjects a substitute motion to discuss the budget and for approval to be at the next meeting in June. Ald Bengel says she wants to spend some time with Keith (Fiaschetti) over the next day or 2 talking over her concerns. The vote on Ald Bucher's motion is Bengel, Taylor & Outlaw voting "No", Bucher, Bettis and Kinsey "Yes". So there is a tie, motion is defeated. Ald Outlaw motions to discuss and approve the budget at the June 25 meeting, Ald Bengel seconds. Voice vote passes it.

Agenda item 5. Adopt Ordinance to Amend Grant Project and Close Out Brownsfield Assessment and Cleanup Grant.

"A special revenue project fund was established for the Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grant, which was funded entirely with a $400,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The City has fulfilled its obligation, all accounting is complete, and the project has been closed by the grantor. The final cost of the project was $38,904.16 less than was originally anticipated. The amendment will close the project fund and adjust the budgets to the final activity totals." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 6. Adopt FY2012-13 Budget Ordinance Amendment for General, Water, Sewer and Electric Funds.

"The City's practice of the Utility Funds reimbursing the General Fund for administrative expenses and shared service costs is a normal course of business with municipalities and is an accepted practice. However, the City does not use an objective measurement process to determine that these costs are reasonably allocable to the Utility Funds. Therefore, to ensure the material correctness of individual funds, the City is required to develop a documented cost-allocation plan for implementation in the current fiscal year budget and future budgets. This new plan has been incorporated into the FY2013-14 recommended budget. To incorporate it in the current year's budget for FY2012-13, budget amendments are required as reflected on the proposed budget amendment."

Ald Outlaw directs his questions/comments to Mr. Fiaschetti: in other words you're turning right around and increasing transfers, doing some creative accounting and expensing some things to the water and sewer funds that really shouldn't be in order to not touch the electric fund, and for which you should not be doing in the first place? Now you've got a decrease of $375K in the water fund, so you're taking out $873K out of the sewer fund and increasing the General Fund? Mr. Fiaschetti responds that the electric system has a cap of 3%...{Reporter's comment: They go back and forth like this about 3 times. Mr. Fiaschetti would never give Ald Outlaw the simple "yes" or "no" answer, preferring instead to repeat his justification behind the data}. Ald Outlaw cuts him short, saying you're taking $4.2 million more out of water and sewer so you won't use electric. Mr. Epperson interjects by explaining that the city was required to come up with an objective formula for cost allocation. He continues, "none of us who were not involved with the previous methodology didn't have a problem understanding this. We used input and received a blessing from staff, Local Government Commission, local auditors. If we didn't fix this we knew we were promised problems next year with our auditors. We did this under a constrained timeframe. I'm not sure that it's sustainable over time. If the Board doesn't want this, give staff direction on what you want us to do."

Increased transfers to the general fund from the water and sewer divisions will be $2,259,957, leaving operating costs at $473,783 for water and $537,486 for sewer.

Ald Outlaw states he wants the fund balance to stay stable. He then asked, "if we had a 1 1/2% rate increase, how long can you offset a rate increase using rate stabilization?" Ald Bucher asks, "why weren't these questions asked in the workshops?" {Reporter's comment: my response would be because Mayor Pro Tem Bengel ran a tight agenda and allotted only 3 hours for each workshop. As it was, the board only got through half of the items on the first workshop agenda. This left the second workshop needing to cover half of the previous meeting's line items and all of the utilities items, plus summation and decision rendering. The management of the utilities funds have created much concern with the public. It is not known if the various departments had already culled their wish lists before final presentation to the board. If they had not - perhaps if they had been - this would have saved considerable time. It is never easy for a local politician to present his/her constituents with a tax increase or utility increase and is usually avoided or at least subtantially justified at all costs - which is what I feel is happening in this meeting and noting that this is an election year}. Mayor Bettis suggests they put Ald Outlaw's questions on the July workshop agenda as they were good questions.

Agenda item 7. Adopt FY2012-13 Budget Ordinance Amendment for Sewer Fund.

"Lift station #33 is in need of repair due years of deterioration from corrosion resulting from hydrogen sulfide gases that have compromised the structural integrity. In addition to rehabilitating the structure, mechanical equipment will be replaced and larger pumps will be put in service to increase the capacity. A transfer from the sewer capital reserve fund in the amount of $100,000 is necessary to facilitate the repair and equipment replacement. After this transfer, approximately $379,000 will remain in reserves." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 8. Adopt FY2012-13 Budget Ordinance Amendment for Grants Fund.

"The FY2012-13 budget for the Fire Department's NC Urban Search and Rescue Task Force Grant was based on estimated spending and revenue projections for the previous fiscal year. It is necessary to amend the budget to reduce revenue in the amount of $10,000 based on actual receipts in FY2011-12.

The FY2012-13 budget for the Police Department's 2009 ERIC Fusion Grant and 2011 Bullet Proof Vest Grant were also based on estimated spending projections from the previous fiscal year. It is necessary to amend the budget to reduce appropriations and revenue for the ERIC Fusion Grant in the amount of $42,000, and reduce appropriations for the Bullet Proof Vest Grant by $4,262 and reduce revenue by $4,009.

Additionally, the Police Department received $9,900 from the 2012 Bullet Proof Vest Grant, which required a 50% match. The match was included in the Police Department's FY2012-13 budget. A budget amendment is necessary to acknowledge the grant funds received." Passed by unanimous vote.

**Agenda item 9. Adopt Resolution to Establish the Electric Rate Stabilization Fund.

"The NC Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA) is predicting an increase in power supply costs to its members beginning in January 2015. In consideration of this anticipated increase, there is a need to establish an Electric Rate Stabilization Fund to assist with mitigating future increases as excess funds are available. This fund would be funded through operating transfers from the Electric system as excess funds are available. Excess funds are defined as those that exceed the 90 days cash on hand level" (Reporter's note: Finance Dir Fiaschetti stated previously in this meeting that there are 50 days at this date}. Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 10. Adopt Resolution Accepting 2012 CDBG Talent Enhancement Capacity Building Grant Program and Authorizing the Mayor to Sign Documents Associated with the Grant.

"The City has been selected to receive a 2012 CDBG Talent Enhancement Capacity Building Grant in the amount of $50,000. The grant will assist local governments and nonprofits in partnership with local governments to develop appropriate and competitive CDBG grants, administer the grants, etc. The City applied for the grant in partnership with NRCDC, and the funds will be used to provide the NRCDC staff with training needed to develop and administer future CDBG grants." Ald Taylor asks, "is this to be at ECU and is there several sessions or is it ongoing, because this is alot of money?" A city staff person says there will be 2 people from the Neuse River Community Development Council attending at ECU once per month during August 2013 through June 2014. Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 11. Adopt Ordinance to Establish a CDBG Talent Enhancement Capacity Building Grant Project Fund.

"As discussed in the previous item, the City has been chosen to receive a 2012 CDBG Talent Enhancement Capacity Building Grant in the amount of $50,000 with no match required. This ordinance will establish the project fund." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 12. Adopt Ordinance Amendments to the Union Station Train Depot Restoration Project.

"(Ward 1) Restoration of the Union Station Train Depot will not be completed byJune 30, 2013, which is the end of the grant period. All parties have agreed to an extension. The Ordinance amendment will extend the project until it is finished and will also increase appropriations in the amount of $11,824 to account for architectural services to be funded with revenue received from the NC Railroad Company." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 13. Adopt Resolution Granting Easement to MCNC.

"(Ward 3) On July 26, 2011, the Board adopted a Resolution to permit MCNC to locate a portion of new fiber optic cable through Lawson Creek Park so it may bore under and across the Trent River. As part of the agreement with MCNC, the City agreed to grant a nonexclusive easement for the benefit of MCNC. The fiber has now been laid, and an ordinance needs to be adopted to grant the easement." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 14. Adopt Resolution to Sell Property Owned Jointly by the City of New Bern and Craven County Located at 613 Ruth Avenue.

"(Ward 5) The City of New Bern and Craven County have received an offer from Carmen G. Burgos in the amount of $2,000 to purchase the property identified as 613 Ruth Avenue. The offer was advertised as required by statute and no upset bids were received. The Resolution accepts the offer and approves the sale of the property." Ald Bengel asks to confirm that there is just land and no house is involved and is told she is correct. Prior to making this motion, Ward 2 Alderman Victor Taylor asked whether Ward 5 Alderman Bernard White had been notified of this item and if he agreed to this resolution. Mayor Bettis answered that Mr. White had given him a "yes" answer when he talked with him this morning (June 11, 2013). (This reporter wonders if Mayor Bettis informed Ald White or any other alderman that he would be at tonight's meeting. Ald Outlaw has told me that he was not aware nor informed that Mayor Bettis would be at tonight's meeting.) Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 15. Adopt Resolution Closing Streets at Union Point Park on June 15, 2013 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Elks Flag Day Ceremony.

"(Ward 1) A Flag Day Ceremony will be held in Union Point Park on June 15, 2013, and it is requested streets in the park are closed to vehicular traffic from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on that date." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda item 16. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the May 14, 2013 Board Meeting, May 21, 2013 Budget Work Session and May 23, 2013 Budget Work session are attached for review and were approved.

Agenda item 17. Appointment(s).

The following appointments to the Historic Preservation Commission were made:

a) The Mayor reappointed David Griffith.
b) Alderman Bengel is requested to nominate a new appointment to fill Peter Adolph's seat, which ended on May 15, 2013; he will be allowed to serve until a new appointment is made.
c) Alderman Bucher is requested to nominate a new appointment to fill Chairman Rich Frye's seat which ended on May 15, 2013;
d) Alderman Outlaw is requested to nominate a new appointment to fill the seat opened by Janet Giordano's resignation;

Mayor Bettis reappointed Alderman Bengel to the Craven County Tourism Development Authority.

Agenda item 20. Announcements.

a) Mayor Bettis calls Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, up to the podium to tell of the successes of the Stormwater Management Plan and the Jack Smith Creek project during T.S. Andrea. Ald Bengel asked Mr. Hughes if the Biddle St pond worked out? Mr. Hughes answered "yes". Ald Bucher asked for the start date for the Jack Smith Creek project. Mr. Hughes replied, it probably began with the old Public Works Director previous to me and coordinating with NC State Univ in 2003/2004. Ald Kinsey asked how many gallons of stormwater are pumped per minute. Mr. Hughes said appx 21,000 gallons or akin to a filled residential swimming pool going through every minute.

b) Ald Outlaw announced that Trent Road was being resurfaced and would be done by this Thursday (June 13).

c) Ald Bucher reminded the folks about this Saturday's Flag Day ceremony (June 15).

d) Ald Kinsey reminded of the National Night Out meeting on Tuesday evening (June 18).

e) Ald Taylor wished a Happy Birthday to Mr. James Brown who will be 102 years young and still drives! (Mayor Bettis remarked "that is 3 years younger than Mr. Bucher!" and the room erupted in laughter). He congratulated all the area seniors on completing their education. He reminded that Wed., June 12th is the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers' death. He concluded by twice repeating the statement: "It is always right to do the right thing".

f) Ald Bengel thanked all the staff for their hard work and diligence on the FY2013/14 budget. She explained that the board members' many questions were due to the fact that "they had to live with it in the public eye". She congratulated the graduating class of 2013 and encouraged them to stay safe and stay engaged, especially over the summer. She described her recent honor to attend the ceremony and present the Purple Heart for Vonzaro Gross (sp?) service in Afghanistan.

g) Mayor Bettis declared that "the recession was over and the real estate market was coming back" as he had heard such from several area realtors. He pronounced that "the budget and the enterprise funds have never been better, we've never had a stronger city" government, fiscally speaking. He directed that "we should focus on how great a town this is, put a good face on what's going on with the city, and encourage people to remember that this is a paradise".

Meeting adjourned at 9:07pm.

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog for NB Bd of Aldermen
New Bern


=======================
CCTA Report- Trent Woods Commissioners Meeting - 6 June 2013


Trent Woods has a new Finance Officer, Abra Cullen. She has just stepped into this office and had nothing to report at this meeting.

The excitement of the evening was that Trent Woods will not be raising taxes for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Craven County will now be collecting Trent Wood's town taxes for the first time. Craven County will be collecting taxes for all the municipalities in the County.

Mayor Chuck Tyson reported that there has been a 1.5% cost of living salary increase for Trent Woods employees.

Department Heads are making their budget requests to the finance officer now and a public budget hearing will be held on 17 June 13. The budget must be accepted by 1 July 13.

Respectfully Submitted,
Eddella Johnson
Trent Woods Watchdog
CCTA Watchdog Committee
===================================================
CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN
SPECIAL BUDGET WORK SESSION OF 23 MAY 2013

This public budget work session is the final of the two budget work sessions to be held this week. Last opportunity for public participation is the regular BOA meeting of June 11, 2013 at 7pm. A public hearing regarding the budget will be held at this meeting. Then the Board's is slated to vote on approving it. Tonight's session began at 6pm by Mayor Pro Tem Bengel, with all aldermen present as well as City Manager Epperson, City Clerk Veronica Mattocks, and a substitute for City Attorney Davis. Also in attendance were the appropriate department heads and cognizant staff to discuss their particular office funding requirements and present explanation or justification. Mayor Bettis was absent by previous excuse conveyed to Mr. Epperson on May 10th. He has now missed a few (3) of the several (number as yet TBD) meetings he stated he would be absent from.

Mayor Pro Tem Bengel explained since the Tuesday night agenda had not been fully adjudicated, those items would be discussed and that meeting brought to a legal close via motions for adjourning. The Board would then open for tonight's meeting to discuss the budget items on this May 23rd agenda. I am primarily reporting discussion outside the parameters of the printed budget highlights. For those highlights as well as line item details, one may read from the city website at http://www.newbern-nc.org/Fin/2013-14RecommendedBudget.php. So, the Board began where it left off with...

e) Human Resources

i) Human Resources

* HR Director, Sonya Hayes explained to the Board her department needed to reinstate, as soon as possible, a position for $48K as well as the reasons behind that need, that being the administrative duties associated with benefits claims which will now include the new Affordable Health Care Act regulations.

* The Board chose this time to voice their concerns that this budget as it now stands is not plausible without at least a 2 to 3-cent tax increase - even without including the potential capital projects (City Hall elevator, new fire stations & their operational costs, merging the City and Police Dept IT functions). Alderman Outlaw broached the subject first, saying, "The main theme I am trying to get across that all seven elected officials should resonate is the truth that with this budget we are only putting off the tax increase one year if we do all these things. These are the type of things that should be funded based on projected good times in the future, good times that I do not see or predict for another 3-5 years from all indications".

* Reporter's Note: As Hal James mentioned in his May 23rd CCTA Watchdog Report of the County Commissioners budget workshops, the city budget has most of the similar line items that could be cut to help reign in the proposed $4.1 million increase in spending for this year: namely non-contractual Special Appropriations $100,696 (Fireman's Museum, Swiss Bear, Duffyfield Residents' Council, Craven Arts Council); Dues & Subscriptions $65,695 (does not include $14K of software subscription costs for utilities depts.): Community Development $10K; and matching dollars for grants $192,216. There's also a never-been-done-before proposed $60,000.00 loan program that is funded within the Electric Dept (our enterprise funds, again), for persons to use to make their homes more energy efficient. The city is partnering with CCA (Coastal Community Action) as it has the experience and expertise from adjudicating similar programs on its own. All the details have not been hammered out or released to the public as to the terms or qualifications to partake of this loan program. In austere years, many government entities and private industry alike cut their training & travel budgets. As training and travel were not discussed, I am not aware if those items have been pared down to the absolute essentials.

ii) Employees' Benefit Insurance Fund [OTHER FUNDS]

* Finance Director Fiaschetti stated that the city will need to address increasing unemployment compensation. The state will be passing down an unemployment compensation debt of $2.5 billion with the federal government due to the recession.

* Alderman Bucher asked if the city had looked into any changes in deductions. He said most companies have had to water down coverage - has the city looked into that? Mr. Epperson replied that the city has made significant changes as recent as last year - they are not proposing making any new benefit changes. They have aligned open season with the changing of the fiscal year which will give city staff and Board an opportunity to look at the entire picture when doing the budget from now on. Further, he reminded the Board that they did institute a wellness program which lowers health insurance costs. Alderman Bucher asked if dependents were covered. Ms. Hayes said "yes". Alderman Bucher asked as to the cost and Ms. Hayes responded $254.10 per months for a family of 4. Mr. Epperson stated that they have removed spouses who have coverage elsewhere.

* Mr. Epperson stated that the increases in this budget are due to capital catch-up such as vehicles and large industrial equipment, which causes a spike in budget. In contrast the on-going operational costs are flat. Alderman Bucher asked if we have this every year. He continued saying, it would be valuable to know the operations costs separate from the capital costs. Mr. Epperson stated that the capital costs for the replacement equipment have been delayed as long as it could. Alderman Outlaw asked for confirmation that there will be a plan for instituting the police cars on a systematic replacement plan and Mr. Epperson replied that was true - that he and Chief Summers are designing a plan. Alderman Outlaw also asked if city staff have also been trying to come up with additional wellness type programs for employees as a method for lower health insurance costs. Mr. Epperson said "yes", and they have been reviewing and discussing what else they can do to lower costs. He elaborated saying that the wellness programs require up-front costs; but with them come long-term paybacks over 3 - 5 years. One idea was to institute preventative screenings. (Note: there is a $4,974,009.00 difference between City of New Bern contributions and Employee contributions under the Employee Benefit Insurance heading in the FY2013/14 budget).

f) Parks and Recreation (6:31pm).
i) Parks and Recreation
ii) Recreation Grant [OTHER FUNDS - Grants]
g) Police
i) Police
ii) Emergency Telephone System Fund [OTHER FUNDS - E911]
iii) Police Special Revenue Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
iv) Police Grants [OTHER FUNDS - Grants]
h) Public Works
i) Public Works
ii) Public-Private Partnerships Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
i) Stormwater

3. Adjourn, then procedure to convene tonight's meeting.

May 23, 2013

1. (7:25pm) Discussions with City Manager and Management Team on Recommended FY 2013-14 Budget, in the following order:

a) Water [WATER FUND]

b) Sewer [SEWER FUND]
* Down $400,000.00 due to lower consumption by customers.
* Majority of Water & Sewer Funds budget is capital expenditures for equipment replacement due to end of life.

c) Electric [ELECTRIC FUND] (7:54pm)

i) Department of Public Utilities and Finance Department Sections
* Electric Dept Dir Jon Rynne stated that "revenues are down by $200,000.00 due to weather patterns as well as the economy which slows down consumption". Alderman Outlaw asked if the Electric Dept had obtained a security consultation in light of the upward trend of copper thefts. Mr. Rynne said "yes", and the City had employed the advised new security measures to include alarms, lighting and cameras.
*Under Electric Dept Distribution O&M, Mr. Rynne noted the $110,000.00 to spend for GIS mapping for underground and connectivity. This allows the department to more quickly respond and more accurately pinpoint where repairs need to be performed.
* $60,000.00 Under the Power Production Division for a new loan program for persons to use to make their homes more energy efficient.
* Under the divisions of Utility Billing, Customer Service and Utility Billing, supervised by Mr. Steve Anderson, there has been a combined $4,200.00 decrease in spending.

ii) Rate Stabilization Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
* The rate stabilization fund is the transfer from the electric enterprise fund to this rate stabilization fund. The city is anticipating an overall electric rate increase to the City of 3%. The $1,451,930.00 that has been transferred to this new fund from the Electric Fund will be used to absorb any rate increase coming down.

d) Capital Reserve funds (OTHER FUNDS)

i) Sewer

ii) Water

Recap of the 2 days of Budget Work Sessions (8:50pm)

City Manager Epperson began by stating that staff needed Board direction tonight on the funding amount for ACT a (Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow) and what to do about the Fire volunteers. The Board decided to add $10K to the $4,123.00 (So ACT will receive $14,123) and to consolidate the Volunteer Firefighters budget with the Fire Dept budget. For the regular BOA meeting on May 28th, Mr. Epperson stated he would be presenting the ordinance to update the city fees schedule. The Board would need to vote on adopting it prior to the June 11th meeting for approval of the FY2013/14 Budget. Those fee changes can be found at this link: http://www.newbernnc.org/C_Hall/documents/OrdAmendingScheduleofFees.pd.

Mr. Epperson clarified that as yet, none of the capital projects discussed at the May 21st session are in the budget. Were the Board to approve any or all each would be financed. The new Fire Dept station would be a different animal as the budget would need to take on the station's operating costs. The city would need to generate significantly more revenue. However, he did not think that would result in a tax increase next year because the first year in implementing the project would only require architect/design costs. The actual project with its larger costs would follow the year after that. The city will move forward with the capital projects unless the Board says not to. In doing so, we will only incur those minor costs like the architect fees. At that point and before moving along any further, we'll bring you a budget. Mayor Pro Tem Bengel suggested first taking care of this FY2013/14 budget, then having a July work session to discuss the capital projects.

2. Opportunity for public to make comments on above sections. (9:03pm)

* Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas spoke to the Board about the $4.1 million budget increase from last year to this year. Mr. Vargas had plugged in the city's figures for the entirety of this administration and constructed a spreadsheet. Drawing upon the data, he noted that the budget increased an average of $1,442,000.00 for each year of this administration. Therefore, he suggested the Board should make decisions to prioritize expenditures for the big ticket items like vehicles, equipment and employee benefits. He also thanked Alderman Bucher for serving on the ACT committee as well as lauded the Board for financially supporting the ACT, especially in light of the hardship that sequestration was putting on the citizens and therefore, the city economy.

* City Manager Epperson offered that post-employee benefits funding needed some work and said that other towns are modifying those benefits. He will put discussion of this subject on the July work session agenda.

* Last opportunity for public comment on the FY 2013/14 budget is June 11, 2013 at 7pm. That is also the date scheduled for the BOA to vote on adopting this budget.

3. Adjourn at 9:09 pm

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter New Bern Board of Aldermen
Ward 6, New Bern, NC