City council members unanimously approved the 2019-20 fiscal year budget at the June 17 special meeting.
The budget holds the city’s 57-cent tax rate and 14-cent special downtown district tax rate.
City electric customers will see some relief starting July 1 as a rate decrease will go into effect. The average customer is expected to see a drop of about $3.70 per month.
CoMPAS cable subscribers would see a rate increase, though they won’t start until Jan. 1.
Broadcast basic subscribers would see a $2 rate increase and basic cable subscribers would see a $5 rate increase. The digital tier would get a rate increase from $10 per month to $12 per month to cover the cost of adding the newly launched ACC Network in August.
The city’s solid waste, water and wastewater services will not see rate changes.
Several other items studded the council’s agenda Monday night.
Council members voted to award a contract for constructing the much anticipated road where a new hotel and steakhouse are expected to be built near Interstate 40 Exit 105.
While the city has secured a grant for $1,374,714 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund the road connecting South Sterling Street and West Parker Road, all of the bids received for the building the road came in over budget.
City staff asked if additional grant funding was available to cover the remaining balance, but there won’t be a clear answer for about three weeks, said City Manager Sally Sandy. If the city waited that long to award a contract, it could risk not being able to finish the project before asphalt plants close for the season.
Council members decided to award the contract, also approving a $173,195 budget amendment that will come out of the general fund balance to cover the over budget funds.
The city also hoped to award a contract for water main improvements for the project, but was unable to do so.
About 88 linear feet of pipe, and 377 linear feet of water line would be installed to serve Longhorn Steakhouse, the restaurant expected to open on the new road, along with a new hotel.
Though the restaurant developer will be paying for the water main improvements, the city did not receive enough bids to award a contract, forcing the project to be rebid.
Moving into downtown, the council approved a $40,000 budget amendment to fund a downtown parking study.
With the approval of the budget amendment, the city will be looking to hire an outside firm to find out what parking needs the city has and how it should adjust accordingly to accommodate its growth.
The city might be lacking one parking spot if things fall into place for an encroachment agreement the council approved.
The Grind Café is looking to have an outdoor seating area, but since there’s not enough sidewalk space for a typical encroachment, the city wants to try something different.
Instead of putting seating on the sidewalk, city staff recommended a trial outdoor seating section in a parking space on West Union Street.
The proposed parking space is a spot in front of The Grind at 129 W. Union St., and sits directly behind a sidewalk island. Information from the city said that business owners told officials that the spot usually sits empty because of how close it is to the street’s intersection with King Street.
It was originally proposed that the city spend $1,800 to build a platform for seating and buy new flower pots, which would match the city’s existing flower pots, to use as a barrier.
However, council members were split on the vote and that motion failed. Instead, the council passed a motion that the city would cover half of the expenses for the temporary platform if The Grind would cover the other half.
That being said, the agreement still has to go before the N.C. Department of Transportation. If the DOT does not approve the encroachment agreement, there will be no trial run of the outdoor seating area.
The council also approved the following items on its agenda:
» A 2018-19 year-end budget amendment of $155,000 to appropriate adjustments in the IGS Warehouse Fund related to an electric transformer
» A 2018-19 year-end budget amendment of $18,435 to the general fund
» Budget amendments for the Green Street revitalization project to reallocate funding
» A contract of $33,400 with Thermal Belt Sports Surfaces to resurface tennis courts and establish pickle ball at Bethel Park
» Authorization for city staff to apply for a $300,000 grant from the N.C. Appalachian Regional Commission Construction Grant Profram to improve water and sanitary sewer on Concord Street