HPD Officer Fails To Meet The New Standard Of Excellence

When is the town going to finally require a full, independent audit of the Huntersville Police Department? Why is a majority on the current town board not interested in verifying how the largest town department spends $13 MILLION of taxpayer dollars? HPD “surplus” equipment just floating around the internet for sale (just because a former town manager steals property from the taxpayers and “gives” it to you doesn’t make it any less stolen property) – no big deal, no need to ensure an accurate inventory, not like HPD keeps anything valuable or dangerous in their taxpayer paid-for inventory. Almost $700K in HPD “contract services” not broken out by line item in yet another budget, but the town board will go ahead and vote again to approve a budget Monday night that is less than transparent. When are the politicians (and candidates) in Huntersville going to stop worrying about what the SSPBA might say about them and instead start worrying about ensuring all HPD officers are held to the same standard and that all HPD policies and town personnel policies apply equally to every officer? Guess those $1,000 contributions the SSPBA hand out matter more than doing the right thing. How much did HPD screwing over the K9 officer cost Huntersville taxpayers and when is someone going to be held accountable for that situation? All that to say, why am I still wasting time writing all of these articles when nothing ever seems to change?

Last week I promised an answer to the question what a moving van, a local golf league, and the CMS Police Dept. have in common. In case the answer wasn’t obvious, it’s newly re-hired HPD Officer Tom Seifert (probably obvious to everyone except the HPD officer(s) responsible for investigating the recent “armed robbery” in the Stephens Grove neighborhood since it’s been two weeks now and there still isn’t any evidence any “armed robbery” took place but apparently the responsible officer(s) thinks it’s ok to allow neighbors to continue to worry about an armed robber on the loose… But I digress.).

According to HPD’s new standard of excellence, a single alleged violation of the town’s personnel policy or HPD policy is enough to justify disciplinary action against a long-time officer with no history of complaints or reprimands. Based on conversations with multiple HPD sources, Ofc. Seifert has used on-duty officers to perform personal tasks on multiple occasions, including as a moving crew for both himself and Lt. Latza and as bank-runners to make deposits at a local bank for the weekly golf league he helps to run at Birkdale. If using town equipment to promote a golf tournament unrelated to the town or HPD isn’t a possible violation of any town or HPD policy, surely using on-duty officers to perform personal tasks is worthy of investigation to determine if any town or HPD policies were violated by Ofc. Seifert or any other HPD officer who knew about or approved such activities. The new standard of excellence must be upheld!

HPD sources have told me that during Ofc. Seifert’s prior stint with HPD before leaving for the Mecklenburg Co. Sheriff’s Office he used on-duty officers he supervised at least twice as a moving crew. According to one source, Ofc. Seifert called him a few years back prior to his shift and advised him to wear shorts and a t-shirt to work the next day because he was going to be helping someone move. That someone ended up being Lt. Bryan Latza and on-duty HPD officers helped with his move from Cornelius to Huntersville (or possibly right across the Concord line since the move was a few years ago and the source recalled it being somewhere in the vicinity of Poplar Tent Rd.). Another source confirmed a similar experience when he, along with at least three other officers, helped Ofc. Seifert move a large amount of furniture from his house in Huntersville to his current house in Lincoln County. All while on the clock getting paid. Allegedly. Of course, nothing wrong with using your work pals to help you move, but us regular folks have to wait until after work or on the weekends for this kind of help. Must be nice to have taxpayers help defray your moving expenses. Allegedly.

In addition to using on-duty officers as movers, a source stated that on multiple occasions over the past few years Ofc. Seifert required them to perform personal tasks related to the “Birkdale Golf League.” What is the Birkdale Golf League? Based on its website, it appears to be an informal weekly golf league sponsored by Hickory Tavern and presented by Crossover Sports played at the Birkdale Golf Course in Huntersville and that requires an $80 league fee payable to Crossover Sports along with weekly fees to be paid in cash at the registration table prior to play for the evening. If you have any questions about the league rules or information about the league, you’re directed to contact Tom Seifert at a cell number or crossoversportsonline.com email address. And what is Crossover Sports? According to the NC Secretary of State’s website, it’s an LLC organized in 2006 for “promotions and online sports marketing” with three members listed on its most recent Annual Report – one of whom is Ofc. Seifert (although Seifert’s name doesn’t appear on the LLC documents until the 2011 Annual Report).

Multiple sources confirmed Ofc. Seifert spends a large amount of time during the work week doing work related to the Birkdale Golf League (I’m still waiting on a pending records request to confirm this information.). One source stated, “It was a running joke between some of us whenever we saw the Sergeant [Seifert] working on his laptop we knew we wouldn’t be getting much help from him until the golf scores were entered.” Another source told me Ofc. Seifert directed them to make deposits for him at a local bank (possibly the Suntrust at Sam Furr and Hwy 21, but the source couldn’t confirm, just that it was near the library around the Sam Furr/Hwy 21 intersection) while on duty on at least 5-10 occasions over the past few years and told me these deposits – which always reportedly contained “stacks of cash” – were related to the golf league based on the deposit slips that were always filled out by Ofc. Seifert. The same source also said they had observed Ofc. Seifert frequently using a subordinate to make golf league “score sheets” while on duty for the various weekly pairings. Allegedly.

Of course, nothing wrong with a group of buddies from all over the North Mecklenburg area getting together on a Thursday evening for some socializing and a round of golf in a cash league run by an LLC with an HPD officer as a member of the LLC and primary organizer of the weekly golf league. But, seems to me certain sections of the town’s personnel policy or a few HPD policies like Directive 1.40 might say otherwise.

Oh, and the CMS Police reference, that’s where Ofc. Seifert is interested in working next according to a source who told me they were contacted by a friend at the CMS Police Dept. asking about their experience with Ofc. Seifert at HPD. Of course, nothing wrong with someone trying to better themselves with a new job opportunity, but I thought the town board had fixed all the issues with officer retention after the pay raise they gave HPD last year? If so, why do we still have experienced officers seeking employment with other law enforcement agencies?

Now all we need is a brave officer to formally complain about any of the above and maybe we’ll see some changes. Maybe even the same brave officer who found the bravery to complain about the K9 officer a few weeks after his allegedly discriminatory remark might find the same bravery to complain about any of the above? I’m sure ISS would be perfectly willing to take more taxpayer money to investigate yet another situation at HPD.

Like I wrote last week, this isn’t rocket science folks. When people are held to different standards, morale suffers. How many patrol officers get to use other on-duty officers as a moving crew or run their side gigs on company time without fear of being disciplined? How many supervisors know or should know about personal work being done on company time or town equipment being used for personal business, or officers being used for personal benefit or for outside employment, or ongoing violations of town or HPD policies, or clear conflicts of interest, or otherwise failing to meet the new HPD standard of excellence, but are choosing to remain silent?

As always, if you have information you would like to share your privacy will be protected. For example, information like credit cards that are issued to supervisors being used to purchase SWAT equipment and other items outside of the normal budget process? I’d really be interested in learning more about that program.

Eric

Holding HPD Accountable To Their New Standard Of Excellence

There’s a new chief at the Huntersville Police Department and he’s enforcing a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to actual violations (or even just alleged violations that are used as a pretext to get rid of someone…) of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy. I applaud the new standard of excellence being enforced at HPD and look forward to the chief fairly and objectively applying this standard across the department. If a single alleged violation of the town’s personnel policy is enough to justify disciplinary action and removal of a long-time officer with no history of complaints or reprimands, then surely a decade-long involvement by an HPD officer with a company separate and apart from HPD might possibly warrant some investigation into whether any violations of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy have ever occurred, right? But more on Crossover Sports, LLC in the next article…

HPD Officer Tom Seifert was recently re-hired by the town back in December after a stint with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. According to HPD sources, Officer Seifert sent an email on or about May 1, 2019 to “HPD All Employees” using his town email account promoting the “42nd Annual NC Law Enforcement Open” golf tournament (an annual event that appears to rotate throughout the state) to be held August 12, 13, and 14, 2019 at Cowan’s Ford Golf Course. August 12, 13, and 14 are weekdays.

According to the promotional materials attached to the email, this golf tournament is not advertised as being sponsored by HPD or limited to HPD personnel, nor is it advertised as benefiting the town or HPD in any way. So why is town equipment being put to personal use to advertise an event not related to town business and that could advance the financial or other private interest of themselves or others?

The entry fee for this tournament is listed as $175 (limited to the first 120 paid entrants – for a total of $21,000 in entry fees), which includes golf, on course beverages and snacks, a goody bag, and entry to a “Hospitality Room” at the Four Points by Sheraton on Northcross Dr. in Huntersville open each night at 6:30 with food and beverages provided by the tournament. Sounds like quite a deal for $175!

The tournament entry form states that questions or comments regarding the event can be directed to Officer Seifert at either his huntersville.org email address or the only phone number he lists on the HPD Phone List.

What’s not clear from the golf tournament promotional materials is where the money goes. Checks can be made out to the “42nd NC LEO” and mailed to a residential address in Stanley, NC. There is no website listed for this “42nd NC LEO” group found on the promotional materials and no corporate entity with a similar name was located based on a search online or at the Secretary of State’s website. There is a public facebook group – North Carolina Law Enforcement Annual Golf Tournament – listed on the promotional materials, but there is no additional website or organizational information at the facebook page. But, there is a nice photo of Officer Seifert holding his Overall Champion trophy from the “40th Annual NC Law Enforcement Open” golf tournament. Guess we all know who the best golfer at HPD is!

$21,000 is just the money raised from entry fees, but there are also sponsorship opportunities advertised up to $1,000 to be a sponsor for the Awards Banquet, along with a request from members of the community for donations. The promotional materials only state that any “unused” portion of the donations will be donated to two named charities – but what about the “used” portion of the fees and remainder of the donations and sponsorship monies, where does that money go?

I’m confident this annual golf tournament is a wonderful opportunity for law enforcement and emergency personnel statewide to come together on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the work week for some fun times on the golf course (and at the Sheraton Hospitality Room each night!) and surely some of the “unused” portion of the donations do indeed go to wonderful causes and charities. But, organizing a golf tournament of this size definitely requires a large time commitment. If Officer Seifert has already used town equipment at least once on May 1 to advertise an event not related to town business and that could advance the financial or other private interest of himself or others, is it possible he’s used town equipment for similar reasons before or after that date? Let’s hope not because under the new standard of excellence at HPD even a single actual (or alleged) violation of HPD policy or the town’s personnel policy could result in immediate disciplinary measures.

This isn’t rocket science folks. When people are held to different standards, morale suffers. Another pay raise band-aid isn’t going to fix this problem.

Check back next week for part 2 to find out what a moving van, a local golf league, and the CMS Police Dept. have in common.

Eric

Still No Transparency Or Accountability For HFD, Inc.

Another town budget will be voted on next month and based on the recent presentation by Chief Dotoli it seems obvious the town board and town manager intend to continue to give Huntersville Fire Department, Inc. a pass on transparency and accountability. HFD, Inc. is only asking for a mere $4.4 million from Huntersville taxpayers in the FY 19/20 budget, a 12.3% increase over their budget last year, so what’s the big deal if taxpayers have almost no control over how and where that $4.4 million is spent. And just a reminder that HFD, Inc. is not actually a department of the town, but a non-profit corporation that contracts with Huntersville to provide fire, rescue, and other emergency services.

Every year various “external agencies” request monies from taxpayers for their specific organization/cause – often a charitable cause. [You may recall the prior town board approved new guidelines for appropriating monies to external agencies.] In this FY 19/20 budget, $4,664,103 is being requested by external agencies with the overwhelming majority, $4.4 million, being requested by HFD, Inc. At the town board pre-meeting on April 1, the town board heard from some of the external agencies requesting money from taxpayers in this year’s budget. The four groups besides HFD, Inc. that sent speakers to the April 1 pre-meeting represent a total budget request of $54K (Crime Stoppers $2K, Hugh Torance $12K, Ada Jenkins $20K, and Latta Plantation $20K) so it made total sense to give these four groups the majority of the 60 minute pre-meeting while only requiring HFD, Inc. Chief Dotoli spend approx. 18 minutes at the podium to justify his group’s $4.4 million request.

It’s an election year so I know nothing I write is going to change how this board operates when it comes to oversight of the HFD, Inc. budget because politicians care more about counting votes than doing the right thing, but here are a few questions nonetheless.

The HFD, Inc. FY 19/20 budget presentation is included below for reference. Feel free to submit your own questions after you’ve reviewed the budget presentation.

  • 18 minutes? Seriously, that’s all the time the town board can find to question anyone from HFD, Inc. about their $4.4 million budget request??
  • Why did the HFD, Inc. budget presentation not break down calls by station? (i.e., How many fewer calls did Station 3 run compared to every other Station?)
  • Why is the town board and town manager STILL allowing HFD, Inc. to conduct a search for land for another new station after the debacle surrounding the site selection for Station 3? Huntersville taxpayers cannot afford another $3.5 million mistake like Station 3 that came about after a prior town board in 2008 neglected to question the circumstances around its site selection.
  • Why does Huntersville even need a Station 5 when Davidson’s new Station 2 is right across Hwy 73 in the general area where HFD, Inc. is claiming to be searching for land for a new station? Why hasn’t the town explored options to contract with Davidson Fire for coverage of the northeastern area of Huntersville?
  • Why is Chief Dotoli having lunch with someone from MEDIC to discuss medical calls? Didn’t Huntersville just abandon the North Meck Rescue Squad because HFD, Inc. was going to handle all medical calls and all fire calls and save the town money in the process?
  • Why hasn’t the town put the fire services contract out for competitive bid yet?
  • Why have there been no efforts to renegotiate the current fire services contract with HFD, Inc. to include greater transparency and accountability provisions? Try sending a few questions to HFD, Inc. about how they spend your tax dollars and maybe you’ll get your own no contact letter from an attorney at the McIntosh Law Firm!
  • Why exactly does HFD, Inc. need to budget $11,500 for legal fees? It can’t possibly cost that much to send no contact letters to Huntersville residents who just want to know how their money is being spent.
  • Why didn’t Commissioners Melinda Bales and Nick Walsh ask a single question of Chief Dotoli during his budget presentation? Put someone from the new management company at (the now profitable) HFFA at the podium and Bales and Walsh can’t stop asking questions – but a $4.4 million request from HFD, Inc.? Crickets.
  • Why isn’t there a town board liaison for HFD, Inc.? We have liaisons for the (now very profitable) HFFA, but no liaisons for HFD, Inc.?
  • Not a single town board member wanted to know how HFD, Inc. calculates $1.6 million in “losses per incident” and how that supposedly measures performance?
  • The HFD, Inc. budget request includes a $1.50 raise for all part-time employees. How many of HFD, Inc.’s employees are part-time and how many are full-time? How many of HFD, Inc.’s “part-time” employees are “full-time” employees at another agency (Charlotte Fire, East Lincoln, etc.)? How was the “average” rate of $15/hr for firefighters in Mecklenburg County arrived at? Is this an average starting part-time rate or the average rate of all pay in Mecklenburg County?

If transparency and accountability are important to you, maybe considering letting your current town board know before they vote on the budget next month. Sure it’s possible the town manager doesn’t recommend the full $4.4 million in his recommended budget, but whatever the amount the town board agrees to fund HFD, Inc. you as the taxpayer will still have almost no control over where and how that money is spent. This situation will never improve if we keep electing politicians who are afraid to challenge HFD, Inc. because they don’t want to lose votes in an election year. And it definitely won’t improve if we elect full-time candidate Joe Sailers. [Full disclosure – Mr. Sailers has a family member who is a firefighter at HFD, Inc.]

Eric

HFD-19-20-budget-request

Melinda Bales Goes From Wrong To Hypocrite About HFFA

I’m just going to keep beating this dead horse until it’s really dead.

Commissioner Melinda Bales used to be merely wrong in her opposition to a management change at HFFA, but after her comments at Monday night’s town board meeting she now can also be labeled a hypocrite when it comes to her “concerns” about HFFA. A hypocritical politician, shocking, I know.

It was just last month that Commissioner Bales tried to score a a few political points by grandstanding from the dais on the great sponsorship deal the management company at HFFA, Swim Club Management Group (“SCMG”), was able to secure with Atrium Health. She was back at it again during this week’s town board meeting by trying to defer until the April 1 town board meeting a decision on a revised services contract between the town and SCMG because of her “concerns” about the contract. What, exactly, were her stated “concerns” about the revised contract? An automatic renewal provision included in the contract and not having had enough time to review a basic 20-page contract – essentially the same contract the town signed with SCMG back in October 2017.

If only Huntersville had a full-time town attorney to help town board members answer any questions they may have about pending contracts…

So, what makes Commissioner Bales a hypocrite when it comes to her “concerns” about HFFA?

First, she never voiced any objection or concern about the revised management contract for the prior management company at HFFA, Health & Sports Works (“HSW”), not being made available until the morning of the town board meeting on October 19, 2015 when Commissioner Bales voted in favor of a contract extension for HSW. And that revised management contract included a significant, substantive change to the terms of the agreement, namely severance for HSW employees, that was never debated prior to Commissioner Bales’ vote.

Second, she never voiced any objection or concern about the auto-renewal (or mutually agreed upon renewal) clause in the services agreement with Huntersville Fire Dept., Inc. (the separate, non-profit entity the town contracts with for emergency services) when she voted in favor of renewing that five-year contract during the August 7, 2017 town board meeting.

Just a reminder, Commissioner Bales has STILL never apologized for publicly making unfounded assertions of collusion against SCMG during a town board meeting.

Policy disagreements are one thing, it’s quite another thing when an elected official actively and intentionally attempts to sabotage an existing business relationship with a partner who is making the town money at a facility the taxpayers were told for years could never be profitable (just one of the many things former town board member Ron Julian was wrong about – the same Ron Julian who screwed Huntersville taxpayers out of over $90K and who was a prominent supporter of Commissioner Bales’ reelection bid in 2017). Now, after over 15+ years of losing money under the prior management, HFFA continues to provide a valuable service to residents while actually making money and working towards paying off the $5.1 million in debt owed back to the town. Sure, this revised contract provides SCMG the opportunity to earn large annual bonuses, but only if HFFA earns a profit. If HFFA loses money, SCMG doesn’t earn a bonus unlike the prior management company that was paid regardless of how much money they lost taxpayers. What a novel problem to have at HFFA, worrying about how much PROFIT the management company might have to share with the town.

Taxpayers will never know how much money was truly wasted and lost at HFFA before SCMG took over the management role, and yet Commissioner Bales (and former Commissioner Kidwell and many, many other former elected officials) defended the prior management company for years and blocked any efforts to bring in competition for the management position. Huntersville needs people on our town board who put what is right for the taxpayers ahead of what is right for their political campaigns.

Oh, and in case you missed it, SCMG recently announced another fantastic sponsorship deal at HFFA with SwimMac.

Eric

Melinda Bales Reaffirms Her Commitment to Being Wrong About HFFA

Dr. Jake Houseman: I know you weren’t the one who got Penny in trouble.

Johnny Castle: Yeah.

Dr. Jake Houseman: When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.

– 1987 Best Picture Winner: Dirty Dancing

Everyone loves a sincere apology because everyone can relate to being wrong. Everyone except politicians. Even when they lose an election it’s always the voters who were wrong, never them. Politicians in Huntersville are no exception.

Near the end of Monday night’s four-hour long town board meeting, Commissioner Melinda Bales took yet another opportunity to be completely wrong about an issue related to Swim Club Management Group (“SCMG”), the current management company at the Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics facility (“HFFA”). This time it was about whether Section 7.(e)(5) of the current management contract between the town and SCMG requires Town Board approval of all sponsorship agreements. Her comments at the meeting [3:53:00 mark] were related to Item 8.B. on the agenda – Approve sponsorship agreement with Atrium Health – and were made in an exchange with Zach Brown, the Executive Director at HFFA.

[Bales] “Since we really hadn’t heard about it (the sponsorship deal) prior to it being put on the agenda, can you elaborate for us how we got here since our contract with SCMG states that sponsorships get the approval with the Board and this contract (the sponsorship deal with Atrium Health) has already been signed? So, this is kind of rubber stamping it. Again, I have no complaints about the agreement, I just want to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again and that we are working in concert with one another.”

Mr. Brown then advised Commissioner Bales that SCMG had, in fact, reviewed the proposed sponsorship agreement with both the town attorney AND town staff prior to it being signed. Only at this point does it appear to dawn on Commissioner Bales that she was wrong about the sponsorship agreement needing Town Board approval.

The relevant language in the management contract states, “All sponsorship agreement [sic] shall be approved by the Town…” The contract was signed by the CEO of SCMG, a prior town manager, our town’s CFO, and the prior town attorney. No one on the town board at the time was a signatory to the contract. Instead of taking five minutes to discuss Section 7.(e)(5) of the contract before the meeting with our full-time town attorney, Commissioner Bales thought she had a “gotcha” moment ready for the large crowd in attendance.

We should expect more from our Mayor Pro Tem.

Commissioner Bales has been opposed to SCMG since the beginning. She opposed even putting the HFFA management contract out for bid in October 2015 and she voted against awarding the management contract to SCMG in July 2017. She even went line by line through part of HFFA’s budget projections during the May 14, 2018 budget workshop in an effort to find some evidence of wrongdoing when she never went through that level of budget detail with the prior management company. She can’t afford for SCMG to continue to succeed at HFFA because it means she was wrong. And she can’t admit she was wrong.

The same Commissioner Bales who publicly made unfounded assertions of collusion against SCMG during a board meeting and has STILL never apologized for those assertions had the audacity at Monday night’s meeting to complain that she wasn’t involved in the sponsorship agreement negotiations. She had absolutely no role in bringing about this great deal for the town, but she expects SCMG to share details with her about confidential negotiations simply because she has the made-up title of HFFA “liaison?” Commissioners do not know everything that goes on in town hall – we have a professional town manager and town staff to handle the majority of the day to day operations of the town. Commissioner Bales also didn’t know about a former town board member screwing taxpayers out of over $90K while she was on the board until it was reported by a local wannabe journalist, but I don’t seem to recall her ever once complaining about this gap in her knowledge during a town board meeting.

All of us make mistakes, but most of us apologize, learn from our mistakes, and move on. It’s clear by now that Commissioner Bales will never admit she was wrong to oppose a change at HFFA, which means she doesn’t want to learn from her mistake. It’s time Huntersville moved on from this type of petty behavior. We should expect more from our representatives on the Town Board.

Eric

New Management Finally Running HFFA Like Actual Business

After yet another legitimate business-like decision, residents and Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics (“HFFA”) members are convinced the new management team is serious about running the business like an actual business for the first time since it opened over 15 years ago. A new title sponsorship deal at HFFA with Atrium Health was announced last Friday worth far more than the title sponsorship deal with the prior sponsor. This came about thanks to Swim Club Management Group (“SCMG”) engaging in what’s known in the business world as “negotiating.” A three-year deal with Atrium Health worth $65K a year plus other value-added offerings to HFFA members not currently available is a great deal for HFFA members and Huntersville taxpayers. And this on top of the recent news that HFFA actually posted a $102K revenue GAIN from July-October 2018 compared with a $117K revenue LOSS during the same period in 2017!

So why do I get the feeling not everyone in town was excited to hear the positive news last Friday night?

When the new management team, SCMG, was awarded the bid at the July 11, 2017 town board meeting after a long overdue competitive bid process, many people in town were skeptical of all their fancy promises about working to improve the existing contracts they had inherited, listening to what their customers wanted, and requiring members to actually pay their dues every month. Two town board members at the time, Melinda Bales and Rob Kidwell, even voted against the management change because they preferred the prior management team’s business model of losing money every year but hoping the public never noticed. Long time readers will also recall Commissioner Bales made unfounded assertions of collusion against SCMG during that July 11, 2017 meeting that she has still never apologized for.

If there’s one area in which SCMG could improve it’s in the self-promotion department. The bottom line usually speaks for itself in the business world, but SCMG chose to get involved in the political world when it took on the HFFA management contract. In the political world it’s who benefits that matters more than the bottom line. The news about the new title sponsorship deal prompted me to finish this article that I had been meaning to finish ever since hearing SCMG give their presentation to the town board back on Nov. 19, 2018 – because not enough people have heard the good news about what SCMG is doing at HFFA in just their first year of full-time management. (I would encourage you to watch the presentation for yourself beginning at the 28:30 mark here.)

Residents who there during SCMG’s presentation to the town board on Nov. 19 heard Zach Brown, the HFFA manager, and local marketing expert Peter Laatz detail some of the positive news like customer satisfaction rates being up and a dramatically improved NPS score. The board also heard from Brian Sheehan, SCMG CEO, who went through some of the financial facts and figures showing the much-improved financial situation at HFFA in just one year. You can download the slideshow presentations yourself below until I figure out how to add slideshows to this site.

The only question residents and HFFA members should be asking is why didn’t a prior town board make this management change sooner?

Current Mayor pro tem Melinda Bales has been consistently opposed to putting the HFFA management contract out for bid. She opposed a competitive bid process in October 2015, the last time the contract was up for renewal, along with commissioners Ron Julian, Sarah McAulay, and Jeff Neely and the prior mayor. Former two-term commissioner, Rob Kidwell, who has been very open about his intentions to run for mayor this year (for those who don’t know, 2019 is an election year in Huntersville), did vote against the contract renewal back in October 2015 when it didn’t matter – he knew he could safely vote no because the votes weren’t there for putting the contract out for a competitive bid. Coincidentally enough, many of the same people who were in favor of maintaining the status quo at HFFA back in October 2015 and July 2017 are now supporting the unofficial Kidwell for Mayor campaign.

Neither Commissioner Bales nor Mr. Kidwell has publicly acknowledged the success that SCMG is having at HFFA since they were awarded the management contract in July 2017. They can’t afford to admit they voted the wrong way. Commissioner Bales had nothing to say during the recent Nov. 19 HFFA presentation and neither of them has had anything to say yet about the great new sponsorship deal with Atrium Health. Their silence on the success at HFFA speaks volumes

Huntersville taxpayers can’t afford to revisit the failures of the past now that progress is finally being made at HFFA thanks to SCMG. Just something to keep in mind as the 2019 election season gets rolling in a few months.

Eric

Huntersville Board Agenda – Jan. 22, 2019

Full agenda packet for tomorrow night’s town board meeting can be found here. The regular meeting begins at 6:30, pre-meeting starts at 5:45. Plan on watching it via FB live again this week due to work still being done to implement the town’s new A/V system (work on the new system has started at least).

The agenda packet is only 26 pages so this should be a short meeting, only two items on the consent agenda. One public hearing called for next month on allowing golf driving ranges in rural districts and approval of an easement agreement with Verizon.

The most interesting item will be during the pre-meeting when the newly formed “Public Arts Commission” intends to ask for $10K in public funding. If you’ll recall, this group was created by a 3-2 vote (Commissioners Boone and Phillips opposed, Commissioner Gibbons absent) at the March 19, 2018 town board meeting. According to the draft minutes from their Jan. 9, 2019 meeting – the Arts Commission’s chair, Scott Mumma, intends to ask the board for $10K in the FY19/20 Budget, $5K to be used to seek matching grants and $5K for “membership costs” to be paid to at least two art affiliated organizations outside of Huntersville. Less than a year old and already wanting taxpayers to give them $10K… thanks, Commissioners Bales, Hines, and Walsh! Remember, government only grows in one direction.

Eric