- Special Sections
- Public Notices
CAROLINA SHORES—A long list of priorities dominated town commissioners’ annual budget retreat March 5, most of them items that have been discussed before.
Commissioners discussed setting aside money for town security, stormwater diversion projects, emergency management, buying laptop computers for the town’s two building inspectors, additional staffing, replacing town equipment, ETJ expansion and possible zoning changes and the future of the Calabash Volunteer Fire Department.
“It all comes down to money,” Chris May, executive director of the Cape Fear Council of Governments, said at the start of the day-long retreat attended by Mayor Steve Selby, the town’s five commissioners and town staff.
He likened town citizens to “stockholders,” who elect “directors” (commissioners) to determine the services they are to receive.
“What’s the priority?” May said of the big-ticket items discussed. “That’s your decision.”
Town administrator Linda Herncane cited finishing the new town hall addition, culvert replacement, a recycling center, paving in the Village at Calabash and setting aside money for a detention pond and green space on her list.
Commissioner Tom Puls said there is still a need for paving improvements in the Village at Calabash, with Watson and Palmer streets “worst on the list.”
“There are so many dips in the road, water collects,” he said.
Herncane said commissioners have to decide how much they want to dip into the general fund for paving. She also said it would be wise to push back paving at the entranceway at Clubview Drive in the Village until the new commercial Thomasboro Center is built.
“I really can’t see paving that completely until that project is completed,” she said.
Puls said developer Kemp Causey has indicated it will be another five years “before he ever gets to Clubview.”
Commissioner Gere Dale said the capital improvement plan has not been finished with paving projects for next year and suggested eliminating Clubview from the list.
“I believe we’re talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 for old Carolina Shores and two in the Village,” he said.
Hercane said the estimated costs are “old prices.”
Dale said if the town finds it does not have enough Powell Bill funding, commissioners may have to look at stretching the projects over a two-year period and consider supplementing them.
Herncane said she thinks it’s a great idea for the town to equip its two building inspectors with laptop computers for an estimated cost of $5,000. The laptops would enable them to access town codes and file and access information while they’re working in the field, May said.
“It’s an essential tool,” he said. “It’s going to make their job easier and will also make you more efficient for customers.”
Selby suggested the town buy only one laptop this year and a second one the following year.
But Herncane said with the two going different directions on any given day, “that’s hard to say which one gets the laptop.”
Herncane outlined a need for land acquisition and money being set aside for another detention pond since the town is going to need it over the next five years. Currently, the town has allocated $50,000. Dale said he would like to see $100,000 added for fiscal year 2008-09.
Commissioners also discussed the U.S. 17 stormwater diversion project at Northwest Drive, which the N.C. Department of Transportation has declined to approve.
Dale said state Sen. R.C. Soles previously indicated he could secure $58,000 in seed money toward the project.
May said the issue is a “whole big political process” that may require wrangling county and DOT support.
Commissioners discussed setting aside $25,000 in the current year budget and an additional $25,000 in the upcoming budget for town security.
A committee recommendation on the issue is the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office will increase patrols, and the town will consider installing security cameras and subsidized alarm systems. If approved, funding will come from the town’s security capital improvements fund.
Commissioners discussed coordinating emergency response and recovery plans with the town of Calabash. Plans also call for a future joint meeting with “key officials” and possible warning systems.
It was suggested the town allocate $30,000 for fiscal year 2008-09 and $20,000 each year thereafter for fuel-efficient vehicle replacement, including a backhoe, mowers and tractors. The town will also seek quotes from a contractor for ditch mowing three times per season.
Plans call for hiring a planning director/assistant administrator and additional clerical help for the town for fiscal year 2008-09.