Weaverville – Concerns over Buncombe County woes persisted at Mondays (April 16) Weaverville Town Council meeting as council members discussed their meeting agenda. Just as at last months meeting concerns over former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greenes actions, for which she was recently indicted in federal court, peppered the council members’ debate, in which they adopted new policies about whistleblowing and personal policies, so again were concerns apparent at Monday’s meeting. Read more...
Most of the discussion at Mondays meeting about county problems and how the town could avoid those type of events from happening in Weaverville came again when the council discussed new amendments to the personnel policy. Those policies included organization of the personnel system, conditions of employment, records and reports, harassment policy and travel policy.
Councilman Andrew Nagle brought up the fact that council commissioners were considered full-time employees which entitled them to full benefits, he also said that an employee with the county had two jobs with the county one at 40 hours and one at 20 hours which allowed the employee to collect double pay. He then asked if there was anything that addressed this in the new amendments to which Town Attorney Jennifer Jones said no employee would be allow to hold two jobs that gave them more than 40 hours per week.
Nagle then turned his attention to travel policy citing former Buncombe County Commissioner Bill Stanleys travel over a three year period coming to more than $38,000. “Travel can be abused easily if not contained,” said Nagle. Town Manager Selena Coffey agreed and added, “What Ill say about travel is that we have a very different policy here...we have a per diem and that per diem says you get ‘X amount per day.” The current town per diem is around $60 per day.
Councilman Doug Jackson wanted to know who approved Coffeys travel. Coffey said under Mayor Dottie Sherrill she discussed any travel with her and that under Mayor Al Root she had not done any traveling, but would do the same. She pointed out that the agreement the town had with her “sets out some pretty specific conferences I have to attend...but my travel statements are always open to any of you.”
Coffey also said that she had a secondary person looking over her travel expenses. That person is the Town Financial Officer, Tonya Dozier. Nagle asked if Coffey thought Dozier would be comfortable reporting on Coffey as her superior. Coffey pointed to last month’s whistleblowing policy adopted by the council. The council did go on to adopt the new amendments with a couple of additions which included harassment by third party venders and that harassment by the town manager could be reported to the mayor.
In accordance to a new state law the council also heard a report on the towns water system development fees from Dennie Martin whos company, WR-Martin, did an analysis on the towns water system development fees.
What are water development fees? The fees are “any charge or assessment imposed on new development to recoup costs of existing facilities which serve such new development” according to the report. The report found the current fees for new development is well below what the town could be charging and Martin said the fees are among the lowest in the state.
Weaverville is currently charging a $600 development fee for a 5/8 residential meter. The study shows that they could be charging closer to $2,480 for that meter (see charts for current and maximum fees page ??). Of the three approaches that could be used to calculate the fee Martin said the report is based on “a buy in” approach. The formula for determining what the maximum fee for which new users could be charged takes into account the current value of the system which in Weavervilles case is about $9.24 million.
Council Member John Penley commented, “This is one of those infrastructures that can really help the town that dont piggy back on the taxpayers that are already here.” The public has 45 days to comment on the proposed fees that the council will set and then council must hold a public hearing on the fees and will then determine if any modifications are required. Martin also said that the report had to be updated every five years. The council set a hearing for Monday, June 4th.
The council also heard from Justin Hembree with the Land of Sky Regional Council who told the council that he was there to let them know about a few changes to the council. Mainly they were going to try and get more feedback from their members and that they would see more involvement from their members.
According to their materials the “Land of Sky Regional Council is a multi-county, local government owned, planning and development organization.”They “reach across county and municipal borders to provide assistance to local governments and to administer programs that benefit our region’s citizens.”Their “mission is to provide creative regional solutions to relevant and emerging issues in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties while providing a standard of excellence in the delivery of services for our member governments.”
The town also approved an amendment to a water commitment to Weaverville Townhomes which will be located off Monticello behind Walmart. The amendment commits the town to supply 53 units instead of 50 as was first approved.
The town also selected Gould Killian to once again handle the towns audit as the lowest bidder. The approval came after some discussion that this type of audit would not find fraud as has happened in Buncombe County and that the saving on the cost of the audit could be applied to a more in-depth forensic audit which would find such fraud.
The night ended with a first look at the towns draft budget for next year. The $6.8 million general budget it lower than last year said Coffey while the $2.2 million water budget was higher than last year. She pointed out some highlights of the budget which includes:
• Money for the new community center at Lake Louise
• Money for repair on the old bus garage • Money for the water treatment expansion
• Funding for an update to the land use plan
• An 8% increase to employee health care
• 2% cost of living increase
• 3% merit pay
Just to name a few.
Shealy receives prestigious scholarship
Weaverville – College freshman Lucas “Luke” Shealy of Weaverville recently receives the prestigious Shelton-Caldwell Fellowship at North Carolina State University for 2018-2022.
The Caldwell Fellows program at NC State University invests in students selected during their first year at NC State who share a passion to learn, grow and serve others. Honoring John T. Caldwell’s vision, this program encourages scholars to “Think BIG” and facilitates the goal of maximizing the college experience by providing intensive programming and leadership training, as well as by fostering collaborative interaction with alumni, faculty and community partners. Read more...
The General H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center partners with the Caldwell Fellows program to identify one of their scholars who also aligns with the values and mission of the Center to become the Shelton-Caldwell Scholar. The Center will provide assistance for tuition and living costs, as well as a stipend for enrichment activities such as leadership seminars and retreats, study abroad opportunities, and internships.
Luke is the son of Margaret Tierney and Daniel Shealy. He is attending NC State to study Environmental Engineering and Spanish Language and Literature. Luke has a soft spot in his heart for the environment. While in high school, Luke led a team of students establishing a composting program. When he found out their cafeteria wasted fifteen tons of food annually, he and other students wanted to make a positive change. After learning they would not receive funding from the county, the students approached businesses for sponsorship and raised enough money to start the program. Together they led an educational campaign on the benefits of composting and taught their fellow students and parents how to compost correctly.
Physical fitness is also an important part of Luke’s lifestyle, as well. He was not only the captain of his cross country team, but he also enjoys using running track as a way to stay healthy and push himself to be better every day.
Luke Shealy receives the scholarship for his admirable dedication to his studies, as well as his service to the community. He is currently one of the co-leads for the NC State Engineers Without Borders: Guatemala Water Systems Project. During this project, Shealy helps guide a team of over twenty engineering students in designing and implementing a rainwater catchment system for the 350 person village of Caserio Panhux. Luke States: “Though our project, each house will be equipped with a system allowing direct water access for drinking, washing, and cooking. We aim to complete installation on the entire project in 2020. This organization establishes hundreds of important global connections. Working together, humanity has the power to reach the moon, communicate instantly, build global networks, and split atoms. We also have the ability to provide everyone with a nearby source of clean water and proper sanitation. I am committed to being a leader in the crucial global effort.”
According to Dr. Debbie Acker, Associate Director for Operations and Academic Programs, Shealy “represents the ideals upon which the scholarship is based: academic excellence, personal integrity, commitment to community service, physical fitness, and a commitment to continuous personal and leadership development through participation in the diverse enrichment experiences offered by the program.”
begins on new hotel
Grading has begun on a four-story hotel just off Weaver Blvd. in Weaverville. The project, which will be a Fairfield Inn, has been years in the making and is located up behind the McDonalds and Bojangles.