Williamston holds first reading on 2019-20 budget

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Williamston Town Council approved first reading on their 2019-20 budget and heard reports from department heads during their meeting Monday. General Fund Revenues are $3,280,225, up from$3,006,490 last year, reflecting the addition of a resource officer and armory lease. General Fund expenses amount to $3,280,255.
Budget highlights, according to Mayor Mack Durham include one time funding for department requests. Durham said a great deal of work was done with department heads to bring their needs to council.
One time department requests approved in the budget include: Money for Paving $200,000; Admin – Computer needs $3,000; Street Dept. signs $10,000; P&R Dept. – Mowers $11,800.00; Security cameras $2,500; Council Chambers $1,500. Total one time funding from the General Fund amounts to $228,800.
The budget also includes funding for a paid position at the fire department and a raise for public works employees, Mayor Durham said. A line item for the fire department was created to allow for paid position.
The bulk of the meeting was public comments and department reports.
During public comments, a resident of Dacus Street brought up an ongoing issue with a neighbor concerning a block wall and other debris on the street. Ken Peska said that his neighbor John King had placed cement blocks along the road which he says are in violation of a city ordinance regarding blocking and or obstructions on roadways.
When he asked council to address the issue, Councilman Rockey Burgess responded that council has no authority under the strong mayor form of government to do so, and that it falls under the mayor. Mayor Durham then responded that he will have utilities Director David Rogers look at it and that the issue is a civil matter involving Peska and his neighbor. He said the issue should be directed to the Town Attorney.
Peska responded that he had done that but has not received a response.
Peska then brought up two other instances that he said are also in violation of city ordinances. One involves blocks in the ditch and the other debris as a barricade on the property.
After the council meeting adjourned, King addressed council stating that the road is only 13 ft. wide and that he had the property surveyed and there is not even twenty feet between his property and Peska’s property.
Members of Shady Grove Baptist Church presented the Town of Williamston with a plaque thanking them for allowing use of Mineral Spring Park for the recent Praise in the Park event. Will Bruce, Al Sullivan, Pastor Herbert Edwards and Charlotte Glover made the presentation.
Bruce thanked Council for allowing the park to be used as a place for the service, ministry and outreach program for youth in the area. Envision Williamston Representative Roberta Hamby and Executive Director Sonya Crandall were also recognized for their help. “It meant a lot to the church,” Bruce said. We want to help the city and for the city to help us.”
Bruce said, “Show up at an event , you won’t be disappointed.”
He said the church plans to sponsor movies for children in the community on May 31.
A plaque of appreciation was presented to the town thanking Mayor Durham, Police Chief Tony Taylor, Councilman Tony Hagood, and Envision Williamston Director Sonya Crandall and Economic Development Committee Chair Roberta Hamby.
Pictured – A plaque of appreciation was presented to the town by members of Shady Grove Baptist Church thanking Mayor Durham, Police Chief Tony Taylor, Councilman Tony Hagood, Envision Williamston Director Sonya Crandall and Economic Development Committee Chair Roberta Hamby for their support.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor told Council that he wanted to present some information to Council about what his officers do rather than “numbers and reports to measure traffic tickects and arrests. I want to tell you some things that you don’t know.” Taylor proceeded to tell about some instances in which his officers went well above the call for duty.
He said they treat people with compassion and that he believes people who serve are called to the position.
“It is a calling. There is not a lot of money, or respect,” he said. “We treat people with respect. We don’t post everything.” He said community policing is not programs, it is a philosophy.”
Taylor talked about one officer who received a phone call about a death and the family had no insurance. “The officer made a donation to help bury this person,” Taylor said.
In another instance, a gentleman fell 20 ft. off a ladder and needed help with yardwork. The officer helped with yardwork and prepared dinner for the family, Chief Taylor said.
In another, an individual had no bed and was sleeping on a cot. An officer found resources for a real mattress and groceries.
“It is a calling,” he said. “It is the essence of community policing.” “Our officers will take their own time to meet the needs of the community.”
Envision Williamston Director Sonya Crandall reported that EW had a very busy month “putting Williamston on the map.” The “Our Town Matters” event had more than 90 people attend and another 490 streamed live on Facebook,
Crandall said. Envision Williamston also recently hosted leadership from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) who visited to see some of the ARC-sponsored streetscaping improvements accomplished over the past year and a half. (See separate story) “They were impressed with the work we are doing,” Crandall said.
Envision Williamston also recently hosted a meeting of the State Main Street program. She said the other directors were “very intrigued and very impressed with the printed material provided including the shopping guide, walking tour and events cards.
EW is also running “Did you know” radio spots on 105.5 with messages about the Main Street Challenge and upcoming events in the town.
Crandall reminded council and the public about the HOWDY Day Cleanup being held this Saturday. Volunteers are asked to meet at 8 a.m. in Mineral Spring Park. The beautification and cleanup program is a “Celebration of the community,” she said. Following the work, there will pizza and give-aways for volunteers.
Council tabled an ordinance amending revisions to the International Property Maintenance Code. The ordinance will go back to the Ordinance Review committee before being brought back to council.
The ordinance addresses weeds and plant growth along curb lines and on undeveloped property as well as unlicensed moter vehicles.
Council also approved a Fair Housing month resolution.