Town Council Budget Meetings

May 11, 2022

 

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Mark your calendar for the two upcoming budget meetings of the Town Council.

Regards,

Tom Ross

 

 

NOTICE OF TOWN COUNCIL MEETINGS

 

THE TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK’S TOWN MANAGER’S RECOMMENDED BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2022/2023 HAS BEEN SUBMITTED TO THE TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK TOWN COUNCIL AS OF TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2022.

A COPY OF THE PROPOSED BUDGET IS AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTION  AT TOWN HALL LOCATED AT 1036 MAIN STREET, BLOWING ROCK, AND ONLINE AT  https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10822/637878148201203741

THE TOWN COUNCIL BUDGET WORKSHOP IS TO BE HELD AT TOWN HALL ON TUESDAY MAY 17, 2022 AT 1:00PM, THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO ATTEND BUT NOT ALLOWED TO SPEAK REGARDING THE BUDGET.

A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE PROPOSED BUDGET SHALL BE HELD ON TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2022, AT 6:00 P.M. TO ALLOW PUBLIC COMMENT AT WHICH TIME ANY PERSONS WHO WISH TO BE HEARD ON THE BUDGET MAY APPEAR.

THE BUDGET WORKSHOP AND BUDGET PUBLIC HEARING WILL BE HELD IN THE TOWN COUNCIL CHAMBERS LOCATED AT 1036 MAIN STREET, BLOWING ROCK, NC 28605.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, PLEASE CALL TOWN HALL AT 828-295-5200.

SHANE FOX,

TOWN MANAGER

TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK, NC

Town Council Agenda – May 10, 2022

Protects | Preserves | Informs | Engages | Unites

May 6, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town Council will conduct their monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 10th at 6pm in council chambers.

Read the entire meeting package and agenda at the following link –  https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10820/

The agenda includes a Public Hearing to consider amending the Short Term Rental Ordinance. Our board member, Janie Sellers, will share her observations about the timing of the amendment and and other points related to our Short Term Rental regulations and communications.

Regards,
Tom Ross

 Town Council and Town Manager Contacts
Mayor Charlie Sellers – csellers@tobr.us
Councilman Doug Matheson (Mayor Pro-Tem) – dmatheson@tobr.us
Councilman Albert Yount – ayount@tobr.us
Councilman David Harwood – dharwood@tobr.us
Councilwoman Melissa Pickett – mpickett@tobr.us
Councilman Pete Gherini – pgherini@tobr.us
Town Manager Shane Fox – sfox@tobr.us

IF YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS EMAIL AND ARE NOT A MEMBER, PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR GOAL OF KEEPING OUR HOMEOWNERS INFORMED AND ENGAGED BY SIGNING UP AT THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OUR WEBSITE
https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

Town Council Meeting Agenda & Property Tax Revaluations

April 11, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

TOWN COUNCIL MEETING

The Town Council released the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting at 6pm.

Please go to Agenda  on the Town website to review the agenda.

There are four presentations on the agenda:
1. Light Up Watauga
2. New River Conservancy
3. History Walk
4. Parking Committee

You can tune into the meeting at Meeting Video .

PROPERTY TAX REVALUATIONS

We all recently received our new property tax valuations from Watauga County.  Revaluations are done every 7 years by Watauga County.  Caldwell County that represents about 8% of the Blowing Rock tax base was revalued last year.

Before you freak out, you need to understand the “Roll Back” process.  The Town will disclose to you the neutral tax rate called the “Roll Back Rate”  based on the average increase for the Town before they vote on any tax rate increases for next fiscal year. The County will do the same. So, there is a reset in total.

Let me share a simple example to illustrate the process.  If the overall increase in the Town’s tax base increases 30%, the Town will calculate and disclose the  “Roll Back Rate”  by reducing the current 43 cents rate to 30 cents.

If your percentage increase for your individual property valuation is equal to or less than the average increase for the entire Town, your starting point for Blowing Rock property taxes will not exceed your current property taxes. The same is true for the County.

We do expect that certain areas of the Town will experience increases higher than the average due to the recent surge in the real estate market.

We  requested a copy of the tax roll from Watuaga County to analyze the increases by type of property (residential, land and commercial) and by area.  The current tax base for Blowing Rock grows organically about 2% per year from new construction and is just below $1.2B.  The County shared in their public updates the increases are likely to be at least 30% overall.

The property tax base for Blowing Rock is approximately 85% residential and 15% commercial. Property taxes fund 60% of the “Spendable Budget” followed by 13% for consumer paid sales taxes and 5% for tourist paid occupancy taxes.

Blowing Rock has a Residential, Business and Tourism Economy. We hear a lot about tourism, but our residential economy is the backbone of the Town’s budget. Reliance on residential property taxes is typical of resort towns, raising a long-term challenge for the Town to expand revenue from the commercial tax base by encouraging new commercial construction and considering business district improvement taxes to fund tourism support expenditures. Occupancy taxes paid by tourists has increased substantially over the last two years (50% and 30%) providing some additional revenue to the Town for tourism support expenditures, but this allocation to the Town is the only direct revenue from tourism.

Based on the Winter Retreat, the Town has identified major long-term infrastructure needs for parks, roads and water management  that will need to be funded by the General Fund budget. Parking improvements to manage tourism related congestion will be funded by designated parking revenues rather than the General Fund budget.  Fortunately, the NC legislative appropriation of $4.8M together with W&S revenues will allow the W&S Fund to address much needed W&S projects.

We appreciate the long-term planning being done by the Town Manager and Town Council to meet the changing needs of our community.  We also appreciate the Town’s  commitment to seek community input in making these decisions.

So, stay tune for updates from the Town and the Civic Association.

Regards,

Tim Gupton, President

 

 

Watauga County Commissioners – Act Now – 24/7 Ambulance

 

 

Protects | Preserves | Informs | Engages | Unites

April 1, 2022

Dear Watauga County Commissioners,

The homeowners and taxpayers ask that you take action to add a 24/7 transport ambulance for Blowing Rock and the Blowing Rock Fire District in your FY23 Budget.

The County’s current system does not meet the “90/9”national standard of providing coverage to 90% of residents within 9 minutes.  The facts are clear. The recent annual report from Watauga Medics clearly documents the deficiency of the system.

The Blowing Rock Town Council requested coverage in a resolution dated March 12, 2022 that also outlines the justification for the request.   See the Resolution below this cover letter.

As you know, the demographics of the County are changing and the need for transport ambulance coverage outside of the current Boone centric system is needed by the residents throughout the County.

Blowing Rock is the second largest concentration of residents and visitors who are underserved by the current system. As our officials elected to serve the entire County, you should immediately adopt a plan to provide coverage to all areas of the County within no less than three years.

The time has come for the County to address this disparity and prioritize the health and safety of all residents throughout the County.  We hope that you will make this need a priority of the Commissioners and your 2022 re-election campaigns.

Sincerely,

Tim Gupton

President

IF YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS EMAIL AND ARE NOT A MEMBER, PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR GOAL OF KEEPING OUR HOMEOWNERS INFORMED AND ENGAGED BY SIGNING UP AT THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OUR WEBSITE

https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

 

A RESOLUTION SUPPORTING IMPROVEMENTS TO THE DISTRIBUTION OF AMBULANCE BASE LOCATIONS IN WATAUGA COUNTY

WHEREAS, the Blowing Rock Town Council recognizes the need for additional EMS crews in Watauga County and positioning ambulance bases to better serve all of Watauga County; and

WHEREAS, the northern and southern (Blowing Rock) areas of Watauga County are under-served areas needing an ambulance base location; and

WHEREAS, 49% of emergency medical calls in Watauga County are located outside of the Boone Fire district per the Watauga Medics 2021 Annual Report, and two of the three ambulance bases in Watauga County are located in Boone; and

WHEREAS, based on the 2021 Annual Report all fire districts in Watauga County, with the exception of Boone with a 7:05 minute response time, receive ambulance response times greater than the national 9-minute standard; and

WHEREAS, based on the 2021 Annual Report, the Blowing Rock Fire District had an average response time of 11:27 minutes, which is 4:22 minutes longer than the Boone Fire District, and

WHEREAS, the Blowing Rock Fire District generates approximately 15% of the emergency medical calls in Watauga County, second only to the Boone district call volume; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Blowing Rock and Blowing Rock Fire & Rescue are willing to provide a facility to house an ambulance and crew at nominal cost to Watauga Medics, Inc. or Watauga County; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the Town of Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners, again formally requests the Watauga County Board of Commissioners approve the funding necessary to provide a full-time, 24/7 ambulance service to be placed within the Town Limits of Blowing Rock during the fiscal year 2022-2023.

ADOPTED this 8th day of March 2022, by the Town of Blowing Rock, Town Council.

 

Town Council Agenda – March 8, 2022

 

March 5, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Yesterday, the Town released the Council agenda for the meeting next Tuesday on March 8th  at 6pm. The agenda is packed.

You can review the entire agenda at the following link https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10710

Please consider attending or watching the meeting by video link at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/residents/meetings

If you wish to speak during the Public Comments section of the agenda, you can sign up at the Council Chamber or participate by Zoom by emailing the Town Clerk at clerk@townofblowingrocknc.gov

Highlights of the meeting are explained below in order of the agenda.

  1. Approval of Memorial Park Capital Project to build additional bathrooms and install other improvements for $1.3M  that is funded by a $500K state grant, $431K of bond funds, $152K from Fund Balance, $152K from TDA Fund Balance and $50K from extra ABC Store profits.
  2. Watauga County Property Tax Revaluation
  3. Clarification amendment of Short Term Rental ordinance.
  4. Retreat Recap focused on long-term needs including 10 year Capital Projects Plan for W&S ($34.6M), Streets ($8.2M) and Parks & Recreation ($5.3M).  The Town Manager and staff laid out  long-term capital plans for the Council to begin a process of sorting out priorities and financing.  W&S projects are self-funded by W&S fees and a substantial boost in funding of $4.8M from a state appropriation for new W&S lines on Main Street.  Other projects are funded by the General Fund Budget that relies primarily on property taxes to fund 60% of the budget – 51% by residential property owners and 9% by commercial property owners. The Town Manager presented a financial analysis prepared by the Town’s financial advisor to demonstrate debt capacity over time from the existing tax rate designated for debt service. Town Manager Fox will present a recap during the meeting. The Town Manager and staff were well prepared and did a very good job of laying out a multitude of key issues facing the Town. 
  5. The Council will consider an EMS Resolution formally asking the County to provide a 24/7 transport ambulance service for Blowing Rock. The resolution cites numerous reasons for the need.
  6. The Council will appoint residents to serve on various advisory boards.   The Planning Board has 4 openings and 12 applicants.
  7. The Council will discuss establishing a Parking Advisory Committee to evaluate and make recommendations about how to best implement a paid parking plan. The suggested composition includes 17 members including 2 homeowners, 2 business owners, 3 churches, 2 banks, 1 TDA, 1 Chamber, 1 School and 5 from Town. This is a critical step towards addressing the congestion caused by the number of tourists and the lack of parking and wayfinding. Decisions to implement a paid parking plan may be the most important decision affecting the quality of life for residents for the next 20 years.
  8. Installing underground utilities would be great, but the issues of cost and funding are complex.  The Council will evaluate a  resolution to approve $117K for engineering fees to determine the cost of installing underground utilities based on a recommendation from the Chamber Underground Utility Task Force and the 2014 Comprehensive Plan.   The questions for years have been Cost and Source of  Financing.  William Brinker led the Task Force and prepared a very detail plan after consulting with BREMCO and other utility providers.  I participated on the Task Force and observed the detailed review with BREMCO.  We should be thankful for William’s commitment and expertise. According to BREMCO,  the first time the Town considered underground utilities goes back to the mid 1960s.  Based on Chamber’s Task Force work product , we probably have a handle on the  cost estimate that would need to be confirmed by engineers. The Chamber’s recommendation to proceed was based on the 50 year window related to the W&S project on Main Street and the fact that Blowing Rock is one of the only towns in the High Country that has not buried their utility lines. Knowing the cost of installation is an important question to resolve, but determining the source of financing for the General Fund Budget  is equally important.  If the cost is $4M and is financed over 20 years at 4% the debt service would be equivalent to about a 2.5 cents increase (6%) in the current tax rate.  For example, a home valued at $500K would pay $122 more and a home valued at $1M would pay $244 more per year.  Excluding grants, an alternative additional funding source for the Council to consider implementing is a Business Improvement Tax District for all  business districts to assist in funding such downtown improvements. Homeowners already fund 51% of the annual budget and commercial  property owners fund 9%, so implementing a Business Improvement District would help to balance the sources of funding.  The logic of using sales taxes (13% of budget) paid by consumers or occupancy taxes (5% of budget)  paid by tourists only shifts the burden for the annual  operating budget back to property taxes. Once the cost is determined,  the Council should consider surveying  taxpayers to determine support for making the investment. 

We appreciate the Town Council moving forward to address these very important and complex decisions as we move into a different era faced by successful resort destinations.

Regards,
Tim Gupton, President

Town Communication Links

March 1, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Our Town Manager, Shane Fox, asked us to share two communication links with the Town of Blowing Rock to help you stay informed.

If you are a Facebook user, “follow” the Town on Facebook by using this link  https://www.facebook.com/tobrncgov

Additionally, you can sign up to receive the Town’s Newsletter, The Village Minute, by sending an email  to admin@tobr.us with “Newsletter” in the subject line.

The Town will send out a short emailed newsletter every other Friday with upcoming information, highlights, and a few need-to-know Blowing Rock tidbits.
Regards,

Tim Gupton, President

If you are not already a member of Blowing Rock Civic Association, please consider signing up for our Newsletters ( https://www.brcivic.org/join-our-newsletter/ ) and supporting our mission by becoming a member (https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/ )

Mission – Blowing Rock Civic Association is dedicated to promoting and improving the quality of life in Blowing Rock by evaluating civic issues, educating and engaging residents on key issues, working with the local government and business community and encouraging citizens to be involved and vote.

Snow!!!! Thank you Blowing Rock Public Works Team

(Photo courtesy of Lonnie Webster)

January 25,2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners and Public Works Team,

The snow has been beautiful to observe, but sometimes we may take for granted the Public Works Team that makes our lives better.

One of our board members, Joe Bogdahn, let me know how much he appreciated our quality Town services. HIs quote reflects the appreciation that we all feel, but rarely express.

“Without question the Blowing Rock Public Works team epitomizes superior customer service.   Their responsiveness to every situation has been outstanding – whether  replacing a burst water meter at the beginning of a holiday weekend, turning off my water when I was unable to get up before a big freeze, or keeping the town roads clear in snowstorms.  Director Matt Blackburn  and Shane Fox show exemplary leadership and I know they are proud of their team.”

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

 

 

Sustainable Tourism Management Report by Roger Brooks

January 22, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority released the Sustainable Tourism Management Report by Roger Brooks yesterday.

You can read the full report at http://townofblowingrocknc.gov/TDAplan

The report and its recommendations will require extensive review and evaluation by the Town Council and the community during 2022.

Homeowners and Business Owners have a mutual stake in working with the Town Council to solve congestion and parking problems to balance the quality of life for homeowners and maintaining a positive experience for visitors.

Regards,
Tim Gupton, President

 

Town Council Agenda – January 11 2022

January 8, 2022

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town Council will meet on Tuesday January 11th, at 6 pm.

You can read the entire agenda and board package using the following link to the Town’s website  at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/residents/meeting-agendas/town-council-agenda

Highlights of the agenda include:

1.    Town Council – Swear in Pete Gherini to serve on the Town Council.

2.    Hotel Project – Approval of a 14 unit hotel suite project between Pine Street and Laurel Lane on 1/3 acre site just behind 1150 Main Street mixed-use building. The project is being developed by Steve Heatherington who developed the 1150 Main Street project.  The request is a Conditional Rezoning District which allows the community to comment at the Public Hearing. The developer is requesting a variance for building height as described in the board package. The Blowing Rock Civic Association neither endorses nor opposes a proposed development. Our evaluation is intended to provide the Council and citizens with pertinent facts concerning the proposed development and alert them to the process that will that will be used by the Town in approving or denying the proposed development. We attended meetings, evaluated this project and the prior townhouse project proposed by the developer and shared those observations with the Planning Board, Town Staff and Town Council. The developer withdrew the first project due to concerns with adequate onsite parking for short term rental units.  He redesigned the project and proposed a hotel concept with parking under the building.

3.    Tourism Development Authority – Selection of a Town Council members to serve on the TDA Board.

Regards,
Tim Gupton

IF YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS EMAIL AND ARE NOT A MEMBER, PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR GOAL OF KEEPING OUR HOMEOWNERS INFORMED BY SIGNING UP AT THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OUR WEBSITE – https://www.brcivic.org/become-a-member/

Tom Ross – New Executive Director

Protects | Preserves | Informs | Engages | Unites

December 12, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Our board of trustees is pleased to announce that one of our board members, Tom Ross, has agreed to assume the role of Executive Director for our Civic Association.

Last summer, the board authorized an initiative to begin a transition from an all-volunteer organization to professionally staffed organization. Our main goal was to identify and recruit a resident of Blowing Rock with business or professional experience, someone who lives and experiences living in our unique village.

After interviewing candidates, Tom graciously stepped up to assume the role of Executive Director for no compensation.  His commitment allows our organization to implement improvements and raise funding to successfully make this important transition.  So far, we have raised $30K from the Broyhill Foundation and board members to seed the transition funding.

Tom is from Concord. He graduated from UNC and earned a MBA from Wake Forrest. He business careers included banking, controller for a public company in the mining industry and other business interests that he managed and sold.   He has had a home in Blowing Rock for over 20 years and recently retired to live here full-time in the Gideon Ridge neighborhood.

In addition to adding the Executive Director role, we have implemented additional governance changes towards our goal by

  1. Increasing the number of our board of trustees
  2. Establishing an Executive Committee
  3. the role of president and executive director

These changes have allowed for us to broaden community representation and skill sets on the board of trustees, focus operational decisions with the Executive Committee, leverage our founders experience and time commitment, plan for future leadership succession, engage board members to lead initiatives to raise additional membership support, engage members, improve communications and monitor short-term rental challenges, and allow the president focus on communication for the organization.

Adding an Executive Director role will allow our organization to improve membership communications, recruit new members, add business supporters, and improve our software capabilities that underpin our communication processes.

Please join us in welcoming and thanking Tom for his service.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President