September 6, 2017
Mayor J. B. Lawrence
Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount
Council Members – Doug Matheson, Ray Pickett, Jim Steele, and Sue Sweeting
Town Manager Ed Evans
Town of Blowing Rock
1036 Main Street
P. O. Box 47
Blowing Rock, N. C. 28605
Subject: Informing Citizens on Issues Addressed by Town Government
Dear Lady and Gentlemen:
Thank you for your service to Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock Civic Association is committed to the idea that the best Town decisions are made when issues have been thoroughly considered by all citizens who have had ample time and opportunity to consider and express themselves on these issues. I am writing on behalf of our board of directors. We think the following steps are necessary to appropriately inform our citizens and to involve them in the decision-making process:
1. Agendas for all monthly council meetings should be posted with the media and on the town website no later than one week before the meeting, for example by 5:00 P.M. on the Tuesday preceding the Tuesday council meeting.
2. Any special council meeting and the agenda for this meeting should be announced to the media and on the town website no later than one week in advance of the meeting.
3. Minutes from each council meeting should be posted on the town website no later than 48 hours after the conclusion of the meeting. Town council meeting minutes have been extremely late thereby depriving citizens of information necessary for their timely response to issues that impact them. For example the latest minutes posted on the town website for a council meeting are for the 7/11/2017 meeting. As you know there have been three council meetings since that meeting two months ago.
4. More use should be made of the Planning Board for advice on issues prior to when the council makes decisions. An excellent example was the August 17, 2017 meeting of the Blowing Rock Planning Board ably chaired by David Harwood. The Board, addressing a controversial request for short term rental approval for a project on Ransom Street, gave every citizen as well as board members an opportunity to speak on this matter. Very useful comments were made. At the conclusion of all remarks the board arrived at an informed, reasonable decision. Minutes of this meeting were promptly posted on the town website. A very valuable recommendation was submitted for council action. BRAAC and other groups should also be consulted more on pertinent issues before council decisions are made.
5. Speakers from the public should be recognized at the start of each meeting instead of at the end. This will give citizens the opportunity to express themselves on issues before council actions are taken.
6. Board retreats should be held in Blowing Rock in order to give citizens and media a true opportunity to attend these events.
7. In view of the significant increases in Town expenditures, property taxes, and water and sewer fees in recent years we strongly recommend that a financial report be given by the town staff at each council meeting on expenditures to date, revenues to date, and performance compared to budget, including fiscal year end projections. A written summary of this presentation should be distributed to the public at each council meeting.
George T. Wilcox
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