Town Council allocates $9,500 to aid in hiring of new town manager
BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Troutman Town Council approved funding for management search services, made several board appointments, and heard reports from the Troutman ABC Board and Troutman Fire and Rescue during Thursday’s meeting.
The council approved a $9,500 budget amendment to cover search, advertising, and vetting costs in its pursuit of a highly qualified town manager.
The search committee, composed of Mayor Teross Young, Interim Town Manager Jim Freeman, council members Paul Henkel and Sally Williams (who joined this month after Jan Huffman’s departure from the council), and Town Clerk Kim Davis, is utilizing both free and paid consulting services offered by the Centralina Council of Governments in its hiring process.
ABC BOARD QUARTERLY REPORT
ABC Board Chairman Layton Getsinger reported that the Troutman store is still enjoying a reasonable rate of growth that has not yet plateaued.
As a result of the growth, the board is making preliminary plans for a warehouse expansion at the back of the store that would accommodate not only this store’s needs but also serve as a centralized storage area for any future second Troutman location.
The 1,680 square feet in additional space would help the store keep up with increasing demand (now at $170,000 to $175,000 in average inventory) as well as allow the manager to take advantage of product discounts to stock up and increase the profit margin on those items.
The store was designed with an eye to future expansion to the rear setback area.
Getsinger has given the architectural drawings to Town Planner George Berger for presentation to the town’s review boards but emphasized the board has not voted to proceed at this time.
The board has $260,000 in cash reserves available to pay for the additional warehouse space, which is estimated to cost between $175,000 and $230,000.
In December, the Troutman store had $208,302 in sales, marking its best month ever. Sales in the current fiscal year are $80,000 ahead of this point last fiscal year.
Getsinger projects sales will exceed $1 million (minus sales tax) some time this week, which took until February last year. The store is trending toward $1.8 million in sales this year, though the board budgeted for only $1.63 million in sales.
The store’s second quarter net profit was $45,500 before distributions, leaving $18,451 in final profits. The store made an ABC Commission required law enforcement distribution of $1,537.76 to the Troutman Police Department and required alcohol education distribution of $2,152.76 to Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell.
Profit distributions included $7,380 to the Town of Troutman and $1,845 each to the Parks and Recreation Department, the ESC Park fund, and Troutman Friends of the Library. Troutman Elementary and Middle Schools, the Career Academy and Technical School, and South Iredell High School received $461.25 each.
The board has accumulated $361,432 in working capital (of its $421,495 maximum allowed).
Getsinger praised manager Evelyn Walls and her staff for doing a “gangbuster job.”
TROUTMAN FIRE AND RESCUE
TF&R Chief Wesley Morris reported that his department responded to nearly 2,100 calls in 2019 in the growing Barringer & Fallstown (B&F) fire district service area. His full- and part-time staff and volunteers put in 6,279 hours in service to the community.
Last year Morris set a department goal of achieving state certification in swift and surface water, which TF&R received in 2019.
Morris was also pleased to announce that two volunteers, who both hold full-time jobs, completed the demanding Firefighter I and II certifications, and two others earned their Medical Responder certifications.
The progress on the two-story addition to the fire department is continuing, and firefighters are meeting the challenge of being spread out between station 1 and 2 well. The project is waiting for additional material to complete the roof installation, and electrical, plumbing, and sprinkler contractors are already at work on the first floor.
“This is going to be a fire station that we are going to be proud if,” said Morris, who hopes the firefighters will move into the new facility by March or April.
Morris also set new 2020 goals for the department, including:
♦ Achieving department trench certification, with staff training beginning in February and equipment acquisition through the year.
♦ Replace the squad vehicle for medical calls, for which the station’s Board of Directors has set aside funding.
♦ Working with the county to get funding to replace expiring air packs and cylinders.
♦ Working with the county to get funding to replace the station’s 1999 tanker 3 truck, which is starting to have issues.
♦ Seeking funding to put full-time staffing at Troutman fire stations 2 and 3 “to have good response time in those areas too.”
♦ Providing “the best service we can to Troutman and the B & F Fire District.”
The council reappointed Robert Bobinski and Mark Michel to their seats on the Design and Review Board. The board voted 4-1 (Paul Bryant dissenting) to delay appointing former council member Jan Huffman to an alternate position on the DRB until next month.
The town clerk asked community members to apply for all town boards in their area of interest because board positions are open. Applications are available at Town Hall or online at https://www.troutmannc.gov.
FIRE TAX PUBLIC HEARING ON JANUARY 21
Residents are reminded that the public hearing on the proposed county fire tax that will affect Troutman and B & F Fire District residents will be held during the Tuesday, January 21, meeting of the Iredell County Board of Commissioners.
The tax would raise the current fire tax district rates by 1.5 cents (7.5 to 9 cents) per $100 in property tax valuation.
TRUCK MAINTENANCE AND PARKING AMENDMENT
The repeal of a text amendment allowing truck maintenance and parking in heavy industrial zoning in the town limits is still under consideration. Berger reported that the project for which the amendment was added has not been presented to staff, and the property sale has not closed.
However, a project engineer said that work has been done on a preliminary site plan and survey work is underway.
The town is researching whether the company, Gaines Express, has a “vested interest” in the property, meaning that the company has expended funds based on the council’s November UDO change.
Several county commissioners lamented losing this potential piece of property for potential fairground expansion and improvements, in which the council pledged to assist in a June resolution presented to commissioners.