BY DEBBIE PAGE
The Town of Troutman’s much-delayed 2020-2021 audit report, caused by the auditing firm’s staff turnover and illness, revealed an “unmodified audit opinion,” the best report auditors can bestow.
Phyllis Pearson of Petway, Mills, and Pearson auditing firm presented the report during Thursday’s council meeting.
The firm suggested no changes in significant accounting or estimates and no material weaknesses, deficiencies, or non-compliance issues.
The audit revealed total governmental assets for that year of $13,562,739, with liabilities of $5,281,736. Its net position of $8,761,540 included $4,438,657 in cash. Total fiscal year revenues were $5,390,638, with expenses for that year at $3,795,181.
The town’s assets exceeded its liabilities by $24,033,346 on June 30, 2021. Just under 78 percent of the town’s net position is invested in capital assets, including property, equipment, and infrastructure.
The unassigned fund balance, or town’s savings, was $2,758,659, well over the Local Government Commission required 8 percent of prior year expenditures ($348,816).
Just under 7 percent of the town’s net position is restricted in use, with just under 16 percent unrestricted. Debt increased by $706,067 over the previous year.
The unassigned fund balance was just over 62 percent of the total fund balance, with a legal available debt margin of just under $35 million.
The water and sewer fund had $17,126,142 in assets and a total net position of $15,271,806, with $1,764,069 in cash on hand. Total revenues for that fiscal year were $2,906,631, with $2,417,200 in expenses.
The general fund had assets of $4,519,497, with a fund balance of $4,427,122. Total revenues were $5,249,193, with expenditures of $4,360,196.
Property taxes collected in 2020-2021 were $3,264,916, with a 99.31 percent collection rate.
NORWOOD WALK CONCERNS
Citizen Alan Hales expressed his concern that the DR Horton 163-home Norwood Walk development is now being marketed as a rental housing development. He begged council to be aware of this national trend by big residential construction companies to build such neighborhoods.
Councilman Paul Henkel said he felt “surprised, disappointed, and deceived” upon hearing of this change, which was never mentioned to council by developers. Though there is nothing the town can do legally now, he hoped officials can do something to keep it from happening again.
“I’m so sorry it turned that way,” Henkel added. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth with the developers.”
When Councilman George Harris asked if there were any restrictions the town could put in conditional zoning decisions in the future, Town Planner Lynne Hair said the town can only regulate use but not ownership. “We cannot stop anyone from renting their home,” she said.
Town Manager Ron Wyatt explained that cases to stop rental neighborhoods in other parts of North Carolina have not been successful because the legislature loosened regulatory rules.
He also noted that this property was first up for a commercial project that was rejected under neighbors’ pressure. “This is a perfect example of being careful what you wish for because now we’ve got this,” he said.
However, Town Attorney Gary Thomas did note that neighborhoods with HOAs have been successful in stopping or limiting long- and short-term rentals in court. He suggested citizens and officials contact legislators to express their disapproval of this situation.
Hair said the town could require conditions that neighborhoods have an HOA or management company with lawn maintenance requirements. Any lawn problems can also be addressed using town ordinances.
“That might help maintain the quality of neighborhoods going forward,” she said.
MUD/DEBIS ORDINANCE PASSED
The council approved an ordinance regulating and controlling the deposit of mud, dirt, construction material and debris from construction sites onto streets and sidewalks in response to complaints about mud, rocks, and materials littering roads around construction sites.
The ordinance will give the town authority to address this violation in a timely manner to facilitate clean-up and gives authority to the town to levy a civil penalty, if necessary, to enforce the ordinance.
The town can now address the issues with the developer and request clean-up in a specified time frame. If ignored, the town can clean up the area and charge the developer for the work or place a lien on the subject property until paid.
CHA SEWER CONNECTION
The council approved two amendments to the sanitary sewer connection agreement for Children’s Hope Alliance (CHA) Barium Campus. The county originally agreed to pay $500,000 for construction and engineering project costs, but when bids came back much higher because of increased supply chain, labor, and material costs, the county agreed to pay up to $725,667.
The contract’s estimated $500,000 project amount was also increased to $725,667 to reflect the increased costs.
Buckeye Bridge LLC of Canton, N.C., was awarded the contract to install 12-inch gravity sewer lines at a cost of $612,166.30. The company’s bid was $165,000 to $272,000 lower than the bids submitted by three Iredell County companies.
BOARD/COMMITTEE MEMBER APPROVALS
The council approved the following board and committee appointments:
♦ Board of Adjustment: Tamara Hatley (3-year term – in-town); Helen Byers (3-year term – ETJ). One in-town alternate position is still open. The board also approved retaining Patrick Flanagan as legal counsel for the board in a possible upcoming legal matter. Town Attorney Gary Thomas will represent the town.
♦ Planning and Zoning Board – Randy Farmer and Barry General (3 year terms – ETJ). Since these nominations are for ETJ positions, they must go to the Iredell County Board of Commissioners for final approval. One town alternate and one town voting position is still open.
♦ Parks & Rec. Committee – council expanded the committee from three to five at-large members to help attain meeting quorums and approved Sally Williams and Martin Page as new members and reappointed Tonya Bartlett and Micheal Barker, all for two-year terms. One at-large position remains open.
The council also unanimously took the following actions:
♦ Approved annexation and rezoning request by Andrew & Christy Phillips of 1.0 acres on the east side of Charlotte Highway, south of Exit 42.
♦ Approval of resolution to approve financing terms for 344 North Eastway Drive property at $350,000 at 2.99 percent over ten years.
♦ Approval of CRTPO Interlocal Agreement to with the City of Charlotte to proceed with the Town of Troutman Mobility Study
♦ Approval of the following budget amendments finalize line item accounting in 2021-22 budget:
– Loan payments for purchase of 334 North Avenue (Administrative Dept.) ($20,643)
– ICS Utility Training (Admin/Utility Department) ($6,400)
– First payment to Lenslock (Police Department-Contracted Services) ($36,658)
– New computers (Admin/Planning Departments) ($19,900)
– Planning house renovations – Eastway Drive (Admin Department) ($30,000)
– SimplySOLV-Payroll and Training (Contracted Services) ($35,000)
– Bell Construction-Water Main Break (Utility Dept.) ($106,660)
♦ Approved rezoning request by the Town of Troutman for properties located at 364 and 354 North Main Street, 345, 341, 337, 333 and 334 North Avenue (5.435 acres total) from town residential to office institutional.
♦ Approved the Town of Troutman 2023-2033 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
♦ Approved the following Spring 2022 water and sewer grant applications seeking state funds to for a wastewater system improvement project, a clay pipe sewer system inventory and assessment project, and a water system inventory and assessment project.
♦ Approval of facade for detached garage for Troutman Funeral Home
♦ Set annexation hearing request for May 12 for Forty Two North Development, LLC and Piedmont Landco, LLC for 0.47 acres off Lexus Drive.
♦ The new town electronic sign near the depot has been installed. Staff are awaiting delivery of software necessary to input content.