Commissioners Meeting, 17 August 2021, part two

This is the second in a series of reports on the Ramseur board of commissioners meeting that took place on Tuesday, 17 August 2021. The first report can be found here, and the full meeting video, without comment, can be found here. Most of the embedded links in the text will open the meeting video in a new window and begin at the appropriate time so you can watch the relevant portion of the meeting.

After hearing from Carol Akers about progress on the 2019-20 budget audit preparations and other problems in the town’s finance office the board discussed forming a steering committee to work on developing a new land-use plan, which is required by the state and must be completed by 1 July 2022. The board chose to table that decision until later in the meeting. When the discussion resumed the commissioners decided to establish the committee by including all members of the board of commissioners, the full planning & zoning board, the mayor, consultant Jill Wood (whom I assume will be a non-voting participant since she lives outside Ramseur’s corporate limits), as well as yours truly because I was in the room and was asked if I would be interested. That’s thirteen people, so far. I hope other citizens with an interest in land planning and development will volunteer to serve. That number of people, especially with so many members already serving as elected or appointed officials, seems a bit excessive, but I’m confident that after the first meeting (no date announced yet) this will sort itself out.

Next, there was a discussion about forming another steering committee, this time to oversee the spending of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds. Both Mr. McIntosh (public works & water/sewer) and Mr. Parrish (police/fire) indicated a desire to sit on that committee, which I understand will also include citizens like you and me. It seems to me like it might be inappropriate for these two commissioners to sit on both steering committees.

If you are a citizen residing inside the corporate limits of Ramseur and would be interested in serving on either of those committees my advice is to reach out to our mayor, whose job description includes being the communications point person for all town business and public initiatives. Make your interest known and I’m certain that will be relayed to the voting members of the board.

There was also a discussion about making Juneteenth a paid holiday for town employees, which I agree with in principle, but I wonder if it’s the right decision to make now from a financial perspective. I mean, yes, we need to celebrate Juneteenth and teach our children what it represents: the end of chattel slavery in the United States. Given the problems we have with accounting and record-keeping here, perhaps we should slow down and study how adding another paid holiday – which most people around here will not be offered any time soon – will affect the budget.

I know this sounds very nit-picky on my part, but if we’re in as big a financial and record-keeping mess as is been indicated elsewhere in this meeting, do we really have any business creating new paid holidays without a discussion of how to pay for it? There was zero discussion of that point, but a motion was made, seconded, and the board voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for town employees. Do we even have any African-American employees in town? Maybe one? Perhaps a better discussion might have been on how to bring a little more diversity to our local government.

There was also some discussion of the roughly $19,000.00 leftover from the now-defunct Ramseur Community Fund. As I understand it the leadership of the Ramseur/EasternRandolph Chamber of Commerce wants to take control of that money, but for reasons that remain unclear that organization is not qualified to receive those funds. The board of commissioners intended to have the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce hold the money until such time as the Ramseur/Eastern Randolph Chamber can sort itself out, but it seems they keep hitting roadblocks.

The state appears to be requiring proof, in the form of official meeting minutes, showing when the board voted to close the Community Fund account and they could not be found, so the board had to hold another vote Tuesday night to correct that error. These are not minutes taken by a previous board and clerk. This happened within the past two years. Let me say it again: we need professional management in this town, not more unqualified officials depending on expensive consultants to bail us out aver few years.

Rather than give the Community Fund money to the Ramseur/Eastern Randolph Chamber of Commerce, I have a better idea. How about we divide the funds equally among every residential water/sewer customer in town and apply it to those accounts as a credit? In a town where roughly 25% of us live below the federal poverty level (census data), that would help a lot of families and be a much better use of funds intended to benefit the entire community.

The board also discussed selling a couple of lots on Roundleaf Road where one of the lots will require a septic system since sewer service is not available there by the wastewater treatment plant. The board voted to move forward with the sale.

Then we heard from Commissioner Hooker, who spoke about a thing called Makesboro, USA, a mobile 3D printing demonstration seeking funds to set up in town and show our students what is possible with 3D printing. Ms. Hooker stated that we are not in a position to offer the money being requested so that bit of the meeting and the meeting she and another commissioner had scheduled for Friday with the Makesboro people really just amounted to a waste of time.

Wouldn’t it have been better to just call the guy and tell him to seek funding somewhere else rather than waste his time on a meeting that will get him nothing? As a business owner that would not sit well with me. Just tell me the bad news so I can get back to work.

That concluded the old business portion of the meeting, so I’ll end this post here, and report on new business in the next post. Enjoy this picture of Ramseur Lake that I took a couple of years ago.