Budget talks are usually not among the most joyous discussions had by city council members. But Monday’s budget discussions brought the Christmas spirit a little early.

The council discussed the possibility of restructuring the bonus system this time around to increase the normal employee Christmas bonus from $75 to potentially up to $2,100. An alternative plan would be to award half of the $2,100 as soon as July 28, with the remainder being distributed around he Christmas holiday.

“With what we are seeing going on right now, our employees need these funds,” Council member Doris Allison said. “But maybe we not wait for Christmas, maybe we give it to them right now.”

According to City Manager Ron Smith, the funds could have a dual purpose.

“We have 16 open positions and these funds would make a really good incentive for people to want to become an employee of the City of Statesville,” he explained. “We are competing with neighboring cities for these employees, it is so competitive and maybe these funds would push us over the edge.”

Council passed a motion directing city staff to work on the restructuring of the bonuses but Mayor Costi Kutteh expressed one caveat.

“As happy as I am to be able to give these funds to our employees, at the end of the day, a percentage increase in pay is more beneficial to our employees than a bonus,” he explained.

Employee Appreciation

Mayor Kutteh began last night’s meeting making a proclamation to recognize Waste and Recycling Workers Week beginning June 17.

“These gentlemen are the gateway to our community,” he said. “If they do good, we are happy. If they don’t do a good job, we get grief about it. But 99 percent of the time, they do a wonderful job and they represent this city extremely well.”

The proclamation was received on behalf of the Sanitation Department by Russell Brown, assistant superintendent.

“On behalf of the Sanitation Department I would like to say thank you to the mayor and council and all who came to share this with us tonight,” he said. “I appreciate my drivers and my workers for working through Covid, and in the hot sun. You do things a lot of people wouldn’t do.”


In other business:

♦ The mayor also made a proclamation for the annual Juneteenth Celebration, which will be held in downtown Statesville on June 18.

♦ The council voted to accept the 2045 Land Development Plan after a lengthy discussion about what the future consequences of doing so would be.

“For right now my concern is that we don’t want to stall revitalization by not allowing residential growth in these areas that are zoned high industrial but aren’t being developed in that way throughout,” Council member John Staford commented. “We need a caveat to allow flexibility so that the areas do not further stagnate.”

But Councilman William Morgan looked more at the entirety of the plan and saw it as more of a guideline to follow than a rule of law.

“This is called a Land Development Plan, not a Land Development Mandate,” he explained. “So I would encourage council and (future) councils long after I am gone, that if you are faced with situations that are reasonable and common-sensical that you consider all of your options. Not just put your fist down and say this isn’t what we talked about in 2022.”

The Land Development Plan can be accessed at City Hall.

♦ The council further voted to abandon property platted as Solstice Drive by passing a Resolution of Closure and Declaration of Withdrawal to permanently close the unopened dedicated right-of-way. Three members of council opposed the move.

“I don’t see where all elements of the ordinance allowing abandonment have been met,” Staford explained. “And for that reason, I oppose this resolution.”

Councilmen C.O. Johnson and Steve Johnson agreed with Staford, as did City staff, which did not recommend passing the resolution.

Staff believed, according to Planning Director Sherry Ashley, that there should be connecting streets between subdivisions and closing this dedicated access would not allow that for the current planned subdivision, proposed as the Flats of Statesville, a More Apartments, LLC development. However, the resolution did pass with a vote of 5-3.

♦ David Bullins and David Stamey were appointment by Council to the Statesville Regional Airport Commission. Bullins will serve as a regular member with a three-year term, while Stamey’s term will  end in June 2023.