Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award – Southern Gateway Greenspace

Paul H. Broyhill Community Service Award

Blowing Rock Civic Association, Inc.

Southern Gateway Greenspace
Harper Sisters – Friends & Neighbors

Broyhill Park
September 16, 2021

Enjoy video presentation at https://www.brcivic.org/videos/

A mutual love of Blowing Rock resulted in a commitment to stewardship and  significant conservation achievement through the leadership of residents in co-operation and partnership with the Winkler Organization, Town of Blowing Rock, Village Foundation, Blowing Rock Civic Association
and NC Land Trusts advisors

 

 

Wayne Vason, Lee Harper Vason, John Winkler & Anne Harper Bernhardt

Town Council Meeting Agenda – September 16 2021

September 11, 2021

Town Council Agenda

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town Council will meet on Tuesday, September 14th, at 6PM.

The summary agenda is provided below.

You can read the entire meeting package at the following link to the Town’s website.

https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10567

The Council will consider Mrs. Powell’s resignation, conduct a public hearing on Green Hill Estates Subdivision after approval by the Planning Board with conditions and consider a parking adjustment requested by the new owners of the Moody Building on Sunset Drive to accommodate conversion of the building to 2 short term rental units and retail.

AGENDA
1. CALL TO ORDER – ROLL CALL FOR ATTENDANCE Mayor Charles Sellers

2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Mayor Charles Sellers

3. SPECIAL ITEM, MINUTES & AGENDA
1. SPECIAL ITEM – Virginia Powell – Resignation
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – By Roll Call 1. August 10, 2021 – Regular Meeting Minutes 2. August 24, 2021 – Special Meeting
3. REGULAR AGENDA ADOPTION – Mayor & Council Mayor & Council Mayor & Council Mayor & Council

4. PUBLIC COMMENTS

5. PUBLIC HEARING: – Green Hill Estates Subdivision Planning Director Kevin Rothrock

6. REGULAR AGENDA
1. 140 Sunset LLC – Planning Director Kevin Rothrock Mayor and Council
2. COVID Discussion

7. OFFICIALS REPORTS & COMMENTS: 1. Mayor 2. Council Members 3. Town Attorney 4. Town Manager

8. CLOSED SESSION – Pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11. (a)(5) Discussion of potential property acquisition.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

Your Vote Counts!

August 30, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

Your Vote Counts!
November 2nd will be our election day for the Mayor and three Town Council seats.

Candidates
Mayor Charlie Sellers is running unopposed.

Four candidates are running for three Town Council seats:
• Nancy Collins
• Pete Gherini
• Doug Matheson
• Melissa Pickett

Voter History
The turnout for an off year election is typically 35% of registered voters, compared to 83% for a national election. Low municipal turnouts underline the importance of each vote.

Only 425 voters cast a ballot during the 2019 election. Races are won by a very small margin of votes, usually less than 50 votes.

Voter Registration
Many of our homeowners have a choice as to our voter registration. Your one vote counts in Blowing Rock!

We plan to request each candidate to answer and publish a series of questions dealing with issues important to homeowners. A Candidate Forum has been scheduled for October 7th depending on conditions.
Voter registration can impact this election, so please Register to Vote!

The voter registration deadline if October 8th. You can register to vote in various ways as explained on the Watauga County Board of Elections website at https://www.ncsbe.gov/registering/how-register

You can register online through DMV as you renew or change your driver’s license address or you can download the application and mail or hand deliver to the Watauga County Board of Elections. To print your application go to the following link to fill out a PDF form.
http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/Forms/NC_Voter_Registration_Form_English.pdf

Voter Demographics – Now and in the Future
There are just under 1,300 registered voters in Blowing Rock made up of 27% democrats, 38% republicans, 34% unaffiliated voters. Municipal elections are non-partisan. Interestingly, 37% of the voters are over 70 years old and 37% are between 60 and 69 years old.

During the November 2020 national election 1,068 (82%) people voted along party lines, but during the November 2019 municipal election only 425 (32%) people voted. So, getting out the vote and registering new voters is key to a successful candidacy.

Anecdotally, we know that there are more people since COVID moving to Blowing Rock full-time including retirees and a number of younger families who have registered for our Blowing Rock School. We can reasonably expect the voter demographics to change over the next few years, if not this year.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President

Green Hill Estates – Planning Board – August 12th

August 16, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

On August 19th, The Planning Board will be reviewing a Special Use Permit (SUP) for new 10 lot subdivision on Green Hill Road, called Green Hill Estates.

We are trying to make the community aware of proposed projects as soon as we have information to share. The window is generally very short as the agendas are published usually Friday before a meeting on the following Thursday. The time to react is very short when the project is a SUP rather than a Special Zoning Permit (SZP) that essentially encourages community input.

As you now know, a SUP is a quasi-judicial hearing process by the Town Council after approval by the Planning Board. Remember that Rainey Lodge and Heather Ridge were long and contentious examples of the quasi-judicial approval process that does not allow the community to communicate with the Town Council. Anyone who comments must have standing and realistically representation by legal counsel to compete with developers who use the SUP process to their advantage. So, basically your comments can only be considered at the Planning Board Meeting this Thursday. All major subdivision approvals are SUP so the developer really has no other alternative other than to voluntarily call a meeting of the community to gain input before submitting the project to the Planning Board which was not done in this case.

The agenda for this project and the supporting documents are available for you to review on the Town’s website at https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10557/637644579461184289

The project is in the watershed and comes at a time when the Town and community is awaiting the Green Hill Traffic Study. We have learned that the Land Use Code does not require much in the way of protecting the watershed and is focused on quantity of water rather than quality of water. Declaration of variances is an important fiduciary responsibility of the Planning Director and Planning Board.

Regards,

Tim Gupton & Marshall Sealey

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State of the Town Meeting

August 2, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners,

The Town and Chamber are sponsoring the State of the Town update on August 12th.

See Invitation from the Chamber of Commerce and Town of Blowing Rock.

Partnership with Blowing Rock Historical Society

July 25, 2021

Blowing Rock Homeowners,

We are pleased to announce a partnership between Blowing Rock Historical Society and Blowing Rock Civic Association to produce a video history of Blowing Rock.

Please join the Historical Society next Sunday to learn more about this and other exciting projects.

See invitation below.

Two of our board members have combined their skills with Tom O’Brien and others to produce the video. The Civic Association will fund the production by videographer, Steve Frank, owner of SocialWorks.Media.

Barry Buxton will write the script, Jean Kitchin will produce the video and Tom O’Brien and his team will provide amazing historical photographs.

Sunday August 1, 4:30 PM
American Legion Building

Enjoy refreshments and visit with friends

See what we have done and are doing for our community

Learn about our History Walk, and the Edgewood Museum

Watch Barry Buxton’s presentation – The Fascinating History of Blowing Rock”

Bring a friend that may be interested in joining

Renew your membership if you haven’t already

The award winning “A Village Tapestry” will be on sale, and Barry Buxton will sign your book.

YOUR INVITATION – BLOWING ROCK AMBULANCE SERVICE

REMINDER RSVP DEADLINE
Blowing Rock Civic Association
Your Invitation

Why is Watauga County ambulance response time to Blowing Rock double the response time to Boone?

Why doesn’t Blowing Rock have a 24/7 ambulance?

As homeowners in Blowing Rock, we need to know what to expect if a family member needs emergency help.

Thursday, July 22nd

4:30 PM

Lake House
Blowing Rock Country Club

Mayor Charlie Sellers and Town Manager Shane Fox will share information about EMS service in Blowing Rock and address our questions about the future.

RSVP by July 19th
Reply to this email at info@brcivic.org
Email questions for our speakers!
Seating limited to the first 100
Cash Bar and snacks
Parking at Fitness Center

24/7 Ambulance Service

Blowing Rock Civic Association
Your Invitation

Why is Watauga County ambulance response time to Blowing Rock double the response time to Boone?
Why doesn’t Blowing Rock have a 24/7 ambulance?
As homeowners in Blowing Rock, we need to know what to expect if a family member needs emergency help.

Thursday, July 22nd
4:30 PM
Lake House at Blowing Rock Country Club

Mayor Charlie Sellers and Town Manager Shane Fox will share information about EMS service in Blowing Rock and address our questions about the future.

RSVP by July 15th
Reply to this email at
Seating limited to the first 100
Cash Bar and snacks
Parking at Fitness Center

FY21-22 Town Budget Drivers

FY21-22 Budget Drivers

June 5, 2021

Dear Blowing Rock Homeowners

Our challenge is to present the facts for a complex budget in simple terms to inform the homeowners before the Town Council votes to approve the new budget at the Budget Public Hearing on June 8th.

We believe that our role is to educate the homeowners, so they can have a framework to understand the decisions of the Town Council.

The centerpiece of this budget is the Town’s goal to compensate and retain the employees who provide our services in an environment where the County, Boone and University are all moving to raise minimum pay to reach a living wage of at least $15 per hour.

The Town Manager and Finance Director have prepared a comprehensive 129 page budget document that can be viewed on the Town of Blowing Rock website at –
https://www.townofblowingrocknc.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/10499/637572045334330000

We will focus on the General Fund Budget that is principally funded 60% by property taxes and 13% by net sales taxes and not the Water & Sewer Fund that is run like a business enterprise funded by user fees.

A discussion of this budget is complicated by comparing the FY20-21 “COVID” budget to FY21-22 “normal” budget. Fortunately, actual net sales taxes and occupancy taxes far exceed the conservative estimates used for the FY20-21 COVID budget, thereby avoiding dipping into reserves to balance the budget for last fiscal year. Our property tax base of $1.142 billion provided a stable revenue source during the volatile COVID period. See Page 30.

The easiest way to understand the budget and how it impacts property taxes for homeowners is to talk in terms of the property tax rate in “Cents” per $100 of valuation. The propose budget is based the math that 1 Cent equals $120 thousand of revenue for the General Fund. The property tax rate for last year was 39 Cents and the proposed property tax rate for this year is 43 Cents or a 10% increase of 4 Cents. For example, a home valued at $500,000 would pay property taxes of $1,950 in 2020 and $2,150 in 2021. See Page 16.

For FY21-22, Caldwell County revalued all real property that represents about 9% of our $1.175 billion tax base or $107 million The budget does not include a roll back for the 5.8% increase in property values in Caldwell County. See Pages 5 and 30.

The proposed property tax increase is $593 thousand of which $480 thousand is due to a 4 Cents increase in tax rate and the remainder is due to growth in tax base and Caldwell County revaluation.

Watauga County will revalue all real property in Blowing Rock for next fiscal year. The increase is expected to be fairly substantial and the Town will present a roll-back property tax rate for the next year’s budget for comparison.

The Key Drivers for expenditure increases in the General Fund Budget follow:

Compensation – 5.4 Cents
321 Landmark Landscaping Contract – 1.1 Cents
Debt Service of $3.5 million GO Bond – 2.5 Cents
Debt Service for DOT Land on 321 – .4 Cents
Total – 9.5 Cents

The increases are offset by other revenue increases of 5.5 Cents due to a 3.6 Cents increase in net sales taxes, 1 Cent increase in TDA occupancy taxes and .8 Cents from other revenue sources.

A description of Key Drivers follows:

The compensation package for all employees is about 70% base pay and 30% for benefits – 10% for insurance and 20% for retirement. The key goal in this budget is to raise the minimum base pay for 3 levels of employees and adjust the pay ranges for the remaining 12 levels of employees. The average base pay for the 59 General Fund employees will increase from $44.2 thousand to $53.1 thousand. The increase for General Fund employees is $650 thousand per year.

The Town committed to take over a Landmark level landscaping from the DOT after completion of Highway 321 which will start this fiscal year. The goal is to extend the special landscaping look that we enjoy in downtown, so 321 is not just an ugly by-pass. The Town Manager evaluated a contract solution versus permanent staff. The scope is significant with thousands of trees and shrubs and miles of medians and banks. The contract solution allows the Town to avoid adding permanent employees and purchasing a significant about of equipment. A recurring allocation of funds from the TDA Occupancy Taxes will offset 50% of the cost, thereby sharing the total cost of $264 thousand.

The Town issued a third General Obligation Bond of $3.5 million in FY20-21 which increases debt service by $305 thousand per year.
The Town purchased a DOT property at the corner of North Main Street and Highway 321 for $442 thousand adding $48 thousand of debt service per year.

We hope that this analysis will help you understand the Town’s General Fund Budget and the key drivers that are impacting the proposed FY21-22 budget.

As we look to future budgets and the timing of the Sustainable Tourism Study scheduled for this summer, we need to begin a discussion of additional sources of funding to cover the increasing costs of managing tourism impacts on the Town. The allocation formula for the TDA occupancy tax was adopted almost 20 years ago in 2003 when the primary goal was to attract tourists compared to the current challenge of managing tourists. Demands on the General Fund Budget is not matching up with business and tourism sources of funding. Examples of increasing costs include operating and infrastructure costs like new bathrooms, park improvements, land acquisition for parking, bathroom attendants, and additional trash management, parking enforcement, additional police, 321 landscaping and three new crosswalks.

You can send comments or questions to the Town Council in advance, attend the Town Council meeting or speak at the Public Hearing scheduled for 6 pm on June 8th.

Regards,

Tim Gupton
President