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03/05/2001 SP e e e . e CITY OF MONROE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING Hill Top Restaurant, 1602 E. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC 28112 March 5, 2001 - 7:00 a.m. 1. Pending Legislative Matters A. Reimbursement of Business Inventory Tax B. Electric Deregulation C. Transportation Issues 2. Future Issues A. Local Option Revenue Sources B. Enhance Downtown Revitalization C. Red Light Cameras D. School System Improvements 03-05-018 26 . CITY OF MONROE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING Hill Top Restaurant, Monroe, NC MARCH 5,2001 - 7:00 a.m. MINUTES Mayor Davis called the Special City Council Meeting of March 5, 2001 to order at 7:25 a.m. The meeting was held at the Hill Top Restaurant, 1602 E. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC. 28112. A quorum was present. e Present: Mayor Judy L. Davis, Mayor Pro Tern P. E. Bazemore, Councilmembers Phil Hargett, Billy A. Jordan, Lynn Keziah, Bobby G. Kilgore, Robert J. Smith, City Manager S. Douglas Spell, City Attorney John Milliken, City Clerk Jeanne M. Deese Absent: None e Visitors: Senator Aaron Plyler, Representative Fern Shubert, Sonia Vizcaino, Mark Donham, Matt McKenzie, and Heather Howard Mayor Davis welcomed Senator Aaron Plyler and Representative Fern Shubert and thanked them for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend this meeting. Mayor Davis presented a brief of Pending Legislative Matters and Future Issues which the City feels are the most important concerns at this time. . Item No. 1. Pendin~ Lea:islative Matters. A. Reimbursement of Business Inventorv Tax. Mayor Davis appealed to the Legislators, if there was any way possible, to reinstate reimbursement of the Business Inventory Tax. She explained that these revenues were included in the City's FY 2001 budget last year. To withhold these reimbursements unduly impacts local governments with the State not fulfilling its prior commitment. The City of Monroe receives about $580,000 each year from this reimbursement, and the April 2001 payment impacts the budget, resulting in a $290,000 e shortfall of revenue. 27 e e e e e Representative Shubert advised that she co-sponsored a Bill in the House of Representatives last week to try to return this money to the counties and municipalities. Senator Plyler explained the problems with the State budget and the Governor's requirement to balance the budget. He advised that he did not know where else the funds could come from to balance the budget through June 30, 2001. He also suggested this reimbursement might be phased out over the next three to five years. Councilmember Smith asked what the long term solution might be to this reimbursement. A period of discussion followed as to the reasons for the budget problems and possible solutions. Senator Plyler explained that there was never a long term commitment made to restore the Business Inventory Tax when it was repealed. These reimbursements have been coming straight out of the State General Fund and there are no funds coming in to offset these payments. Representative Shubert felt that the long term solution is the adoption of the "Taxpayer Protection Act." B. Electric Dereeulation. Councilmember Smith advised that the City is pleased with the Study Commission's delay on this subject until at least 2006. The City has consistently paid the annual debt payment to the NCMPA#1 and will have this full debt retired by 2019 with City ratepayers realizing power costs that will be more than competitive at that point. The issues on this subject continue to be stranded costs and the value of the facilities that municipalities invested in previously assisting the Investor Owned Utility Companies. He stated that the City will continue to make payments on the debt as they are due. The City only asks when deregulation occurs, that all ratepayers are treated fairly, including those in Monroe served by the City of Monroe. Senator Plyler thought this was taken care of for the time being, but noted it could spring back up in several years. Representative Shubert concurred. c. Transportation Issues. Councilmember Kilgore stressed the importance of transportation needs to the City of Monroe. While the City is pleased that some of the major transportation needs are being included in the Transportation Improvement Program, these projects are five (5) or more years out. The Western Loop is critical to the City to shift truck traffic from passing through Downtown which affect aesthetics, safety, and accelerated deterioration to infrastructure. Also, the Monroe Bypass construction should be accelerated due to safety issues resulting from traffic congestion and truck traffic. These needs are immediate and should be prioritized in the TIP for earlier design, right of way acquisition and construction. He stressed how critical these needs are, as well as other less needed transportation improvements. Senator Plyler advised that $70 million has been set aside for the Marshville to Highway 601 portion of the Bypass, with the contract scheduled to be let in October. However, there has been a delay. He pointed out that the reason the Western portion has not been funded is because of the delays by so many people becoming involved, as well as environmental issues over which the Department of Transportation has no control. He has met constantly with the 28 · · e · · Department of Transportation, and knows it is not all their fault. He pointed out that Powell Bill Funds were doubled in 1989. City Manager Spell advised that the City is pursuing discussions with the Department of Transportation relative to Senate Bill 1200 which gave municipalities authority to participate in right of way acquisitions. The City is interested in expediting the Western Loop project and is in dialogue with the State to see if the City were willing to fund all or a portion of the right of way, how much that would accelerate completion of the project, which is programmed for completion in 2007 and 2008 in two separate projects. Senator Plyler stated that the City's participation would speed up the process considerably; however, the environmental studies would have to be approved first. Mayor Davis reiterated the City's concern that if something is not done relatively soon, there will be a loss of economic growth that might normally be in Monroe and Union County because industry simply cannot get trucks and cars out of the area. Representative Shubert relayed her concern with the availability of records on distribution of funds for roads. She is working on a "Prosperity Project" which shows the importance of roads in this area connecting major tourist destinations from Asheville to Wilmington. Item No.2. Future Issues. A. Local ODtion Revenue Sources. Mayor Davis advised that the City must look for other forms of revenue for continued economic development and planning for new facilities. For example, the City is proactive in dealing with economic development for the City. The City is interested in beginning the planning for a Civic Center in the Downtown area. An occupancy tax and a prepared meals tax are a means of funding these local cultural offerings to the Community in several cities in North Carolina. Mayor Davis asked for the support of the Legislators in asking that the General Assembly allow the City to have special legislation authorizing the occupancy tax and prepared meals tax to generate revenues to be dedicated to the Civic Center project. Senator Plyler was in agreement to introduce legislation for such taxes to be used for the Civic Center if the entire Legislative Delegation were in support of the request. He requested that the City draft proposed legislation, get a commitment from the local delegation, and he will discuss this with Senator Purcell. Representative Shubert advised that she had not heard this issue before and had no feel for what the community would desire without public discussion. She would like to have all the facts before reaching a decision. Representative Shubert also stated that she had just been appointed to the Travel and Tourism Committee, and is well positioned to learn more about the City's request. Following a time of discussion regarding the importance and benefits of a Civic Center to the entire area, and funding possibilities, Mayor Davis advised that the City would draft something 29 e . e e . and be in touch with Legislators shortly. Senator Plyler requested that once the City made a decision, he receive a copy of the Resolution and he would assist the City. B. Enhance Downtown Revitalization. Councilmember Keziah stated that the City cherishes its Downtown and is proactive in initiatives to stimulate new development opportunities. The City is working to develop Downtown Development Incentives to encourage new development and revitalization of existing buildings. He requested that the State identify opportunities to enhance Downtown revitalization for municipalities such as Monroe. Senator Plyler advised that incentives for downtown redevelopment would come under transportation, and he was not familiar with anything at this time. C. Red Lie:ht Cameras. Mayor Pro Tern Bazemore advised that the City of Monroe has requested to be a part of new legislation authorizing the use of cameras for enforcement of vehicles running red lights. This appears to be a means of improving safety on our highways without the impact of adding additional patrol officers. He advised this is tremendously important to the City and three major intersections have been identified in order to increase safety through using the cameras. He requested that this legislation be sped through as quickly as possible for this important safety issue. Representative Shubert advised that she is waiting to hear back from several municipalities before introducing her Bill. Senator Plyler advised that once a formal Resolution is received, he will be glad to assist the City. Representative Shubert felt that she and Senator Plyler are in agreement in trying to get legislation for the red light cameras passed. Mayor Davis advised that the City will adopt a formal Resolution at the next Council Meeting, which will be sent to Senator Plyler. D. School System Improvements. Councilmember Hargett asked that the State aggressively evaluate, identify, and implement ways to improve the education system. One area which Union County has experienced is the manner in which Hispanic students are introduced into the classroom without any preparatory training for English as a second language. A transitional classroom for teaching this would seem to be a means of improving the educational opportunities for all students. Other areas of concern include classroom size and addressing the achievement gap. He stated that the City would appreciate anything the Legislators could do on the State level. Representative Shubert advised that she would like to meet and talk specifically about education. She stated that most problems cannot be fixed unless the public schools are fixed, beginning with the curriculum standards. During a time of discussion, Senator Plyler pointed out that 63 percent of the State General Fund goes to education, and he felt a lot has been accomplished. Discussion to find additional revenues for schools included a possible State lottery and toll roads. Mayor Davis expressed appreciation to the Legislators for all they do, and asked how the City might help them. Representative Shubert suggested that the City get a Committee focused on 30 e e e e e education. Mayor Davis advised that the City does have an Education Committee and they will be in touch. Representative Shubert also asked for additional information on the Western Bypass. Senator Plyler requested that Council visit his office any time they may be in Raleigh, and express their opiIÙons, either as individuals or as an entire group. He also hoped the Courthouse would remain in Monroe. Councilmember Smith recognized City Manager Spell, and stated that City Manager Spell will be a great help to the advancement of the City of Monroe. Senator Plyler expressed his appreciation as a resident of Monroe, for what is being accomplished locally. There being no further business, Councilmember Smith moved to adjourn. Councilmember Jordan seconded the motion, which passed unanimously with the following votes: AYES: Councilmembers Hargett, Jordan, Keziah, Kilgore, Smith, Mayor Pro Tern Bazemore, and Mayor Davis None NAYS: The Special City Council Meeting of March 6, 2001 adjourned at 8:35 a.m. Attest: ~m~ eanne M. Deese, ity Clerk 03-05-(Hs 31