BY DEBBIE PAGE
During Tuesday’s agenda review, Troutman Town Council voted on several matters and reviewed the much-debated livestock ordinance up for a vote on Thursday night.
NEW POSITION APPROVED
Town Manager Ron Wyatt requested that the council approve the creation a new administrative position in the police department to audit the evidence backlog and properly dispose, store, or return items as directed by the court.
Wyatt said evidence storage space is scarce, and employees have experienced headaches and other health consequences from the smells emanating from some of the seized material.
To illustrate the need for this position, Wyatt said vehicles confiscated six years ago are still unprocessed, although the cases were disposed of three years ago. Since taking the position, Interim Chief Darrin Payne has filed the paperwork to auction off the vehicles, but COVID-19 has delayed the agency that processes it.
Wyatt recommended hiring an administrative person with Division of Criminal Information (DCI) certification who would be dedicated to clearing the backlog and maintaining evidence going forward.
The circuitous process to dispose of evidence requires this position, added Wyatt. Each case status must be monitored for completion, and then the judge must be consulted to determine whether to store or dispose of evidence or return it to victims.
Confiscated weapons must be returned to the manufacturer or traded in for weapons suitable for police use under Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms guidelines.
Any funds collected after evidence or confiscated items are auctioned and expenses are paid goes to the local school system.
Wyatt said this person would also perform additional services for residents, including fingerprinting for jobs or other purposes as well as processing passport applications.
The administrative position will be full-time Monday through Friday at a salary in the mid-$30,000 range. Wyatt will create an official job description using models from other municipalities.
Council approved Wyatt’s request 4-0. Mayor Pro Tem Paul Henkel was absent from the meeting.
NCDEQ GRANT ACCEPTED
Council members also voted unanimously to accept a $150,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to perform an asset inventory and assessment of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure.
Public Works Director Adam Lippard said the grant will “bring us into the 21st Century in water and sewer.”
The proposed project will help the town “plan for the efficient repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of assets.” The funds will also pay for accurate mapping of all existing water and sewer lines, detailed inspections of manholes, researching asset information and age, and inspections of lift stations.
All of the information will be mapped using GIS technology, and the information can then be accessed by employees to obtain information about pipe size, age, flow direction, pipe material, manhole material, pump station location and name, and pump capacities.
After the analysis of the utility systems, an asset management plan (AMP), including a capital improvement plan (CIP), will be created to address current deficiencies and long-term preservation of the sewer system.
These plans will help prioritize what infrastructure should be replaced or rehabilitated and to address regulatory or capacity problems. The plans will be invaluable to the town in arranging for financing and for scheduling of improvements.
The town must provide a $20,000 match to receive the grant, which can be provided in in-kind services of staff work during the mapping, investigation, and research process. Staff will share historical information about the collection system, manhole locations, conduct smoke testing, provide traffic control, and assist with CIP and AMP writing.
Mayor Teross Young was thrilled to get the grant. “This is a great opportunity to get state help to pay for that,” he said.
The project is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2023.
ANIMAL ORDINANCE/TEXT AMENDMENT
The update of the livestock ordinance continued to garner debate during the meeting. Council member George Harris expressed concerns about one pet goat being allowed per quarter acre and the effect this ordinance could have on residential neighborhoods.
Council member Sally Williams pointed out the 150-foot setbacks from public roads and other residences would prevent pet goats being allowed on quarter-acre lots. The regulation allows one goat per quarter acre, but the lot would have to be bigger to accommodate the mandated setbacks.
Williams also expressed concerns about the limit of two annual seven-day permits for kudzu control goat grazing, saying the 175-day growing season would necessitate more sessions to control the growth of the invasive species.
Williams also asked that guidelines for chickens (four per acre with no roosters allowed) be added to the ordinance.
Interim Town Planner Jonathan Wells said he would include these suggestions in the ordinance and text amendment to be considered on Thursday night.
MONTHLY REVENUE UPDATE
Finance Director Steve Shealy reported that Troutman continued its strong revenue growth in June. Sales tax collection ($95,740) was up $24,000 over June 2020, and third quarter utility sales tax was up almost $6,000 ($77,423).
Water and sewer billing was up nearly $37,000, rising from $188,776 last June 2020 to $225,445 this past month.
Each council member and Mayor Young applauded the town-sponsored Independence Day Parade. Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson, volunteer Chuck Gallyon, and the entire town staff and police department were praised for their efforts in executing this one-hour event, attended by thousands of area residents.
The mayor also reminded town residents that filing for municipal elections has begun. The seats of Paul Henkel, Sally Williams, and Felina Harris (who was appointed to complete Paul Bryant’s term in January) are up for election this fall.
THURSDAY NIGHT AGENDA
♦ Consideration of an annexation and a rezoning request for 34.69 acres for the proposed Winecoff Village.
♦ Consideration of an annexation and a rezoning request for 113.44 acres for the proposed Westmoreland Village.
♦ Consideration of a UDO text amendment related to Goats and Keeping of Livestock (affecting both both limits and ETJ).
♦ Consideration of animal ordinance clarifying conditions under which livestock may be kept inside the town limits.
♦ Consideration of approval of a resolution to accepting American Rescue Plan Act Funds.
♦ Consideration of a request by the Troutman ABC Board to establish a Capital Improvement Expansion Fund.
♦ Presentation of the Troutman Library and Troutman Fire Department Quarterly Reports.
♦ Recognition of Troutman Police Department School Resource Officer (SRO) Devin Bentley and Officer Jonathan Lyon.