BY DEBBIE PAGE
Felina Harris was sworn in Thursday night to complete term of Council member Paul Bryant following his resignation.
Harris, flanked by her husband and her youngest son, took the oath of office from Troutman Mayor Teross Young, who his expressed his thanks to them for “lending” Harris to the town for this service.
The new council member thanked the mayor for the opportunity and said she was looking forward to serving. She later thanked everyone for the warm welcome and said that she was excited to get to work.
Harris has hit “the ground running” after already receiving emails requesting assistance from community members.
Statesville City Council member Frederick Foster congratulated the council for appointing Harris and for hiring Town Manager Ron Wyatt on January 4.
“I know both of these people, and I know they are going to do a fine job for you. I’m just here as a good neighbor to congratulate both of you,” said Foster, who said he looks forward to the two councils working together on mutually beneficial projects.
The council also honored Bryant for his four years of distinguished service, first as an appointed member in 2016 and then as an elected member since 2017.
Mayor Young commended Bryant for his encouragement of growth, capital improvement projects, downtown redevelopment, and responsible budgeting and spending. He was also an integral part of the revision of the town’s personnel and classification plan and the Unified Development Ordinance. Additionally, he was an important contributor to the development process of Troutman’s Strategic Master Plan.
Bryant also served as a delegate to the Centralina Council of Governments and to the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission during his tenure.
Young expressed his and the council’s appreciation of Bryant’s dedication, leadership, expertise, and knowledge during his service to the community.
Bryant thanked the council for the honor and kind words, saying “I’m humbled to be recognized tonight by the board. As I said in December, it’s been a real privilege to serve our community over the last four years and to serve with each of you.”
“Under our stewardship, Troutman is on the path of a bright, vibrant future of accelerating growth and prosperity, and thanks again to each of you for leading the way to the future that we all envision,” he added. “I look forward to watching the growth, and I look forward to participating in future once this COVID-19 thing is behind us, and we can return to some sort of normalcy.”
Bryant spoke to Harris earlier Thursday and said he “couldn’t be more tickled to see her join the board. I think that she will bring a tremendous amount of vitality.”
He went on to commend Harris’s many past community contributions. “She has a big personality, and she is going to be a real addition, and it’s great to see another woman on board to lend to the diversity of Town Council,” he said.
ABC STORE QUARTERLY REPORT
Troutman ABC Store Manager Evelyn Walls gave the council a second quarter update and revised projections for the rest of the fiscal year.
Noting that its fifth year of operation began on December 1, Walls said the store, through December 31, had generated net sales of $7,161,890 since its opening. December’s sales were the best yet, hitting a record high of $294,180, a 41 percent increase over last December.
Since opening, the store has generated $450,189 in profits after distributions, which totaled $160,381 at the end of December. The town, ESC Park, Parks and Recreation, Troutman schools, and the library received $125,414 of that total, the Troutman Police Department received $19,153 in law enforcement funds, and Drug-Alcohol Coalition of Iredell (DACI) received $26,814 for alcohol and drug education.
The current working capital, or savings, for the store is $350,378. The maximum allowed by the state ABC Commission is $414,071.
The store’s budgeted forecast for this year was $1,742,824, but after the exponential increase in sales, ABC Board Chair Layton Getsinger revised projections up to $2.55 million, a 46 increase over the original 2020-21 budget.
The original budget predicted $148, 220 in profits before distributions this fiscal year, with projected at $67,664. The upwardly revised budget numbers now predicts $240,000 in profits before distributions of $110,000.
Council member Eddie Nau congratulated the ABC Board and store staff for its phenomenal work and for the financial contributions their efforts make possible to the town, police department, schools, and library.
Council member Paul Henkel thanked Ron Wyatt, who was Troutman’s mayor at the time, and the original ABC Store team, led by Layton Getsinger, for their work to make the store a reality. “We increase year over year beyond our wildest dreams.”
Council member Sally Williams asked if the council had a formal agreement with Town Attorney Gary Thomas after seeing Iredell County Commissioners recently approve their attorney’s updated contract.
Henkel said that it had been a “gentleman’s handshake agreement” up through this time.
Thomas, who became Town Attorney 20 years ago, explained that he receives a $500 monthly retainer to cover council meetings and quick phone calls. He charges a reduced $175 hourly rate as part of his public service ($300 normally) for special council and other town board meetings and other legal work.
Thomas said the state statute says that the town attorney “serves at pleasure of council,” so no formal contract was written. He noted that he started 20 years ago at $150 per hour for extra work, raising it to $175 per hour only a few years ago.
Mayor Young asked Thomas to write up information up for council.
Young read a thank you letter from the family of Vernon Red Overcash to thank council for Overcash’s recent community service award.
The mayor also reminded the community that the upcoming Martin Luther King Day is a day of service to the community and urged people to find an opportunity to help their neighbors in a COVID-19 safe way.
Young also announced that COVID-19 vaccinations can now be given to frontline healthcare workers and to those 65 and over. He asked eligible community members to be aware of upcoming clinics to get protected from the virus.
Council members also urged the Health Department and area hospitals giving the vaccinations to give the public more information about how to get signed up for shots and to come up with more time efficient ways to deliver them to the public.
After Young officially welcomed Wyatt to the team as town manager, Wyatt noted a recent pump breakdown may affect the budget. After looking at options, the staff chose to replace it with a $16,000 new design pump instead of $12,000 repair of old pump to be cost effective and have more dependable equipment and a warranty.
He is also looking at town vehicle maintenance issues to see if purchasing year-end discounted models with rebates might be more cost effective than continuing extensive repairs in the long run.
The council changed the date of its annual retreat to February 26 at Town Hall to accommodate Harris’s schedule conflict.
In other business:
♦ Council member George Harris was selected as Centralina Council of Governments delegate and Nau as alternate.
♦ Henkel was selected as Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization alternate.
♦ Williams was selected as delegate to the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission.
♦ The council voted to void its memo of understanding with the Iredell County Recreation Department, effective immediately.
♦ The council also had a closed session to discuss property acquisition and to consult with the town attorney. No action was taken afterwards.