Mayor Teross Young, Troutman Council members and town staff met on Monday for a day-long strategic review of town departments’ accomplishments, needs, and goals to assess progress, help map the 2024-2025 budget, and consider future direction for the town.


Town Planner Lynne Hair said Troutman is growing rapidly, with her staff approving 6,480 single-family lots and issuing 981 permits issues. Her department also reviewed 17 commercial multi-family projects in 2023.

In 2020, the population of Troutman was 3,738, rising to an estimated 4,020 in 2023. With 6,480 approved housing units averaging 2.6 persons per household, Hair said the population could rise to 16,848 over the next decade.

With this growth comes roadway issues and traffic congestion. Though the Flower House Loop realignment to Houston Road is slated to start this year, the widening of Highway 21 through Troutman is not even on the radar at this point, though funding for preliminary engineering has been approved.

Several Troutman area projects are being considered for phase 7 of the N.C. State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), a multi-year capital improvement program of projects on and off the state highway system.

Those include widening of Highway 21 from north of Julian Police to Cedar Lane and from Cedar Lane to Barium Lane, a new southwest bypass location from Highway 21 to Autumn Leaf Road, and widening Old Mountain Road from Highway 21 to to Buffalo Shoals Road.

Bike/pedestrian projects to be considered for phase 7 include the Lake Norman Multiuse Trail from Old Mountain Road to St. John Road and the Carolina Thread Multiuse Trail from Autumn Leaf to Barkdale Road.

Since NCDOT funding is slow and competitive, Hair suggested several proactive solutions.

These include using conditional zoning to tie traffic impact analysis identified improvements to approved developments and to continue using the town’s Mobility Plan to pursue grant opportunities.

Hair also suggested working through the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) Board to ensure town projects are added to the STIP. She also suggested using free NCDOT traffic counts to gather traffic data to support projects and grants as well as having shovel-ready projects prepared for any arising opportunities.

Hair also advocated for utilizing Kimley Horn’s expertise to assist with applying for larger grants, to identify improvements that the town can initiate, and to create engineered documents for road improvements.

She also asked the council to use General Fund expenditures to grant match and fund small improvement projects. She noted the state does not allow local governments to adopt a special-purpose local-option sales tax, special local gas taxes, or charge developer impact fees to fund infrastructure improvements.

Hair praised the 2018 Troutman Strategic Master Plan for its action-oriented focus but noted that these plans need updating every five to 10 years.

She noted the five strategic plan recommendations:

♦ Making various transportation improvements, including greenway sidepaths, road connectivity, roadway capacity improvements, safety projects, and corridor improvement areas. Troutman should coordinate these recommendations with other plans in the form of a Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

♦ Adopting an access management policy for East Monbo Road, Perth Road, Murdock Road, and Old Mountain Road (or all two-lane minor arterials) is the most important short-term action to allocate / design driveways, promote cross-connectivity between developments, and limit crashes from frequent turning movements.

♦ Heavily weighting the design of Main Street in Troutman. The U.S. highway has an alternative (I-77), but Troutman’s Main Street does not.

♦ Creating a U.S. 21 Corridor Overlay District to address driveway spacing, landscaping, and greenway connectivity.

♦ Building local street connections for local traffic on the southwest side of the study area, starting with U.S. 21 to Autumn Leaf Road.

Hair has rewritten three chapters of the Unified Development Ordinance and is continuing that process, incorporating more use of the conditional zoning process to give the town more options to require developers to complete traffic and other improvements to benefit the town. She is also adding tree removal and tree protection measures with increased civil penalties.

The revised UDO will be presented to the Planning and Zoning board and the Town Council for review, input, approval, and implementation after it is complete.

Hair noted a need for additional space for equipment and required hard copy document storage.


Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson invited Placer AI to do a demonstration of its foot traffic analytics. The company uses mobile location data, voluntarily allowed by users, on the cell phone apps of 25 million US cellphones to create its anonymous aggregate data.

The company emphasized that it does not collect user identity, does not store user data, and is fully compliant with privacy laws.

The representative presented usage data for ESC Park, indicating 95,300 visits by 33,200 individuals from the first of February of last year to the end of January this year. From 2021 to 2023, the park saw a 221 percent increase in visitors. About 32,000 people live within a five-mile radius of the park.

The representative also shared income data for visitors using information from data partners and the U.S. Census, which indicated 24 percent of park visitors earned under $40,000.

The representative also showed the the top ten businesses, including Food Lion, McDonald’s, Kat’s Patch, Dollar General, Sheets and Dixie Fish, that people directly visited before or after visiting the park to demonstrate ESC Park’s economic impact.

Watson said that data validated the heavy impact staff has been experiencing — that many more than the 4,000 residents of Troutman use and enjoy the park daily.

She said this data will be invaluable not only in grant-writing and acquiring sponsorships to fund park improvements but also to drive the town budget, road needs, and economic development discussions as well.

The council was fascinated by the depth of the data and asked Town Manager Ron Wyatt to investigate costs to subscribe to Placer AI services.

Watson highlighted several 2023 accomplishments of her staff, including:

♦ Acquiring and establishing the Parks & Recreation facility (offices, storage, and programming)
♦ Transitioning to an online reservation and registration software through CivicRec.
♦ Filling the full-time Special Events Coordinator position and starting the Special Events Division and filling two full-time Maintenance Tech positions.
♦ Acquiring Richardson and South Iredell Greenway maintenance responsibilities.
♦ Making forward movement on Georgie Street Park, working with residents and a playground distributor.
♦ Completing dugouts, playground updates, replacing soccer goals, upfitting volleyball courts, planting Bermuda grass on soccer and baseball fields, adding additional shade/seating area, purchasing compliant stage for events, painting and staining restrooms, installing a dumpster, and re-mulching playground at ESC Park.
♦ Working with Public Works to install flashing lights at Greenway Crosswalks, adding spring seasonal banners to light posts, replacing the digital marquee, replacing RailTrail signage, repairing ceiling fans, and performing pressure washing on the Richardson Greenway and the Depot.

In 2024, Watson listed a number of priorities at ESC Park, including moving forward with the concession stand and restrooms near the baseball fields, building four pickleball and one basketball court, and re-striping parking lines.

She will also get renderings from a playground distributor to continue development of George Street Park.

The department will also build 1,400 square feet of equipment storage at the Parks and Recreation facility. A parking lot for the facility and overflow park traffic is underway across the street.

The staff will also work toward attaining additional training and certifications.


Police Chief Josh Watson said calls are increasing, rising from 3,797 in 2022 to 5,196 in 2023, a 37 percent increase. From these calls, officers took 982 reports, with 423 reportable offenses in 2022, rising to 1,165 reports this past year, with 542 reportable offenses.

Of the 328 arrests in 2023, only 80 were residents of Troutman. Most of those committing crimes are coming from the Charlotte/Mecklenburg area, added Watson.

Watson said there was a 41 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents last year. Only 2 percent were in residential areas. More traffic equals more crashes, said Watson, with most involving non-residents on Hwy 21.

The criminal investigation unit investigated 46 cases in 2022, rising to 88 this past year, a 91 percent increase.

In schools, SROs reported a 21 percent increase in incident reports but a decrease in mass violence threats after strong prosecution to previous incidents. Most reports involved fights or narcotics, mostly THC vapes at the middle and high school level.

The department has expanded evidence storage and is improving its management by barcoding each piece of evidence.

To keep up with training needs, Watson said the 24-member department now has four general instructors as well as specialized instructors for Taser, OC (Pepper Spray), Less Lethal Munitions, and Firearms. The department can conduct most training in house, aside from specialized or advanced training courses.

The department purchased simulation weapons to be used in training courses to allow for force-on-force scenarios and has started quarterly firearms training to improve officers proficiency and abilities.

Watson is also looking to extend the department’s capabilities, including deployment of 40mm launchers equipped with impact munitions that can be used at closer range than bean bag shotguns and also allows use of other munitions as needed.

The department also received a matching private grant to purchase a data extraction device for cellular phones, tablets, and other devices. Officers are also beginning training on artificial intelligence in regards to its use in criminal incidents as well as law enforcement application of AI, including facial recognition and data analysis.

Officers also received training and equipment to allow them to immediately engage and resolve situations when no time exists to await a tactical team.

Watson’s 2024 department goals include upgrading current radios with TDMA programming to ensure continuing connectivity to NC VIPER radio network, reprogramming of all departmental radios for NC VIPER Simulcast system, and purchasing of 4 Motorola APX6000 radios to replace older units and provide for spares.

He also plans to upgrade body armor and upgrade officers’ pistols to Glock 47s with RDS technology.

Watson also plans to purchase two drones.

“During 2023 Troutman Police responded to 20 incidents in which a drone would have been a valuable asset. In only one of those incidents were we able to obtain a drone asset through mutual aid,” he said. “Drones provide a force multiplier for the department, acting as an additional officer to observe from other angles and areas, freeing up personnel for other tasks and also filling some of the roles of a law enforcement or rescue helicopter.”

Watson also plans to add one civilian support position to assist with records and evidence management. Additionally, the department is creating an additional lieutenant position, which will oversee the Patrol Division. The other lieutenant will oversee Support Services and handle administrative duties to remove the administrative responsibilities from the overtaxed Criminal Investigations Unit.

Watson also noted the need for additional space for an interview room with camera and recording capabilities, evidence processing, offices and work stations, lockers, and equipment storage.


Town Finance Director Justin Mundy reported that General Fund revenue is up $2.86 million over 2023 through the first eight months of the 2023-2024 budget year, mostly due to increased property taxes. The remaining uncollected property tax is around $175,000.

Budget expenditures are up over $3 million, mostly due to the purchase of the Dollar General building and renovations of town properties, as well as additional personnel joining a few departments.

Sanitation costs are up after Republic Services acquired Benfield Sanitation and raised prices.

Insurance costs are also up because of additional town properties and vehicles.

Utility Fund revenue is up $1.4 million over this time last year. Water and sewer sales are up $280,000, and availability fees are up $1.1 million. Expenditures are up $800,000 because of the need for more water meter supplies, additional water and sewer purchases with increased water and sewer sales, and the purchase of new Public Works vehicles.

Accomplishments this past year include the implementation of Neptune 360 software that is improving the time needed to perform monthly meter readings as well as additional features unavailable with the previous software.

Town policies were updated regarding startup/stop service and request for payment extensions. Policies are being enforced that were not always fulfilled in the past, Mundy said.

The Finance Department is in the process of converting to SmartFusion software, which allows employees to be more efficient in the front office and lets department heads have access to a “live” look at their budget. Conversion should begin in the next month and should be completed before the end of this fiscal year, Mundy said.

Two employees were added to keep up with the demand caused by the town’s growth. Utility customers have increased 53 percent since June 2021, with 17 percent growth in the last six months alone. Mundy expects the substantial growth to continue for several more years.

In the coming year, Mundy wants to add an online tool to the website to allow customers to fill out utility applications online and upload the needed documents before an application can be submitted to the front office.

Mundy noted that the town is “receiving over 3,000 phone calls a month. For the first two weeks of February, 71 phone calls were received just to be transferred to the payment center. He suggested changing some options on the phone system to take customers to the utility payment directly.

Munday said that currently, almost 50 percent of utility payments are received in house (mail, drive thru, walk ins). Employee workflow and productivity for other tasks would improve if online or draft payments increase. He suggested reducing or eliminating the fee to pay by phone or online to reduce the number of in-house payments.

Mundy also reported that the Passport Office has profited almost $36,000 since July. Since being staffed by part time only, the passport office is running around a 75 to 80 percent return on investment.


Public Works Director Austin Waugh said the department continues to operate a compliant wastewater system and received a great inspection report from the state. The staff completed an entire wastewater system inspection, including all ROW manholes and jetting 10 percent of the system (over 5 miles). Staff also installed 13 new or rebuilt pumps across the wastewater system.

The department also completed its 2023 Local Water Supply Plan and has begun a new process to record water loss from leaks or hydrant flows. The town achieved a 17 percent water loss rating, which is better than average for water systems, even with four major leaks (two by construction crews) in 2023.

The water system continues to operate within a system-compliant status, and staff performed all required systems maintenance and compliance monitoring tasks. New customer meters installed last year increased the entire water system by almost 20 percent.

The department has begun the Lead Service Line Inventory, which is state mandated to be completed by October 2024. This labor-intensive process involves hand digging on the system side and customer side of the water meter to verify what pipe material was used on any house built in 1987 or before.

Waugh said staff must verify pipes at 988 customers’ homes by October, putting a real strain on his department.

The department has increased its emergency sign and pole inventory to keep up with the growth of town streets and continues to patch potholes as well as and complete pothole prevention measures.

The department has striped crosswalks and implemented a new street sign plan with all signs dated with installation date as well as at a standard 8-foot height. It also installed 16 flashing beacon crosswalk signs to help with safety at busy pedestrian crossings.

The Public Works Department also oversees and performs maintenance and repairs to over 50 pieces of equipment, ranging from excavators to chainsaws. It also completes monthly inspections, annual maintenance, and repairs on all 17 generators, either onsite at a pump station or towable generators.

The addition of master mechanic Jonathan Cruz added the maintenance of almost 50 town vehicles to the department’s responsibilities. Cruz performs normal service and major repairs.

Waugh said staff members are diligently taking needed classes, adding certifications and meeting safety instruction requirements.

The Public Works department currently has nine employees, and Waugh said to meet the growing infrastructure and regulatory demands, he will need seven more employees in the next few years. He is currently hiring an assistant director for the department.

In future needs, the department needs to replace 1,000 aging customer water meters at $276 each and an estimated 700 setters at $300 each. Waugh is hoping to find grant money to help with these costs.

The Westmoreland Pump Station needs to be replaced with three larger pumps, which will be covered with grant money. Bids are currently coming in for this project.


Human Resources Director Lou Borek discussed his work on the position cycle for Troutman’s 58 employees to improve their hiring and work environment. He covered manpower analysis, recruiting, onboarding, performance management, training, and separation.

In manpower analysis, Borek conducted a needs analysis with department directors to determine staffing needs and to create job task analysis and job descriptions for employees, many of whom have been wearing multiple hats not originally intended.

Borek looked at building career pathways for different positions and the potential for opportunities for growth as they acquire more skills and duties. Employees need to have “some place to go without being stagnant.”

He has also worked on a classification structure and did compensation studies to ensure the town is competitive with surrounding municipalities and gets the best candidates for open positions.

Some employee certifications also enhance salary, and the pay scales he created adjusts with cost of living adjustment increases.

Borek emphasized the importance of employee satisfaction, which involves a balance of space, resources, and people in the right places.

In recruiting, Borek wants to create a more formal process and develop interview training sessions for department heads to ensure legal compliance in candidate interviews.

The onboarding process is being digitized so that new employees can complete paperwork through the human resources software program, This change will save new employees’ time by inserting repetitive information (address, phone, Social Security numbers, etc.) on all digital forms to avoid repetition.

Other onboarding activities are learning equipment, getting integrated into IT, a tour and staff introductions, discussing performance expectations, and making any necessary accommodations.

To manage employee performance, Borek oversees the probationary period and annual review and helps employees with performance improvement goals “to know what they are working toward.”

He also makes salary adjustments as needed and helps with promotions, bonuses, and recognitions. Borek additionally seeks incentives and benefits that boost employee retention.

After assessing training needs, Borek finds sources for employee training and certifications, develops training sessions, and looks at training costs. He also ensures that mandatory and statutory training occurs.

Employees have had cyber security, CPR, and first-aid training. He plans leadership and legal compliance training opportunities through the N.C. School of Government or NeoGov resources.

Borek also wants to develop a more robust separation process and survey those leaving for other positions to help improve the employee experience for town employees.

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