There is a town board meeting tonight at 6:30pm. You can read what’s on the agenda here and you can watch a live stream of the meeting here. Rick Short does a good job at his blog of covering agenda items for Davidson board meetings so I decided to attempt the same for Huntersville. If you want to review the full agenda packet including supporting documents, you can download a copy by clicking the “Full Packet” link at the town’s agenda and minutes page. I can’t cover every item so I always encourage residents to review these agendas and discuss any items of interest with the mayor or a board member because even a single motivated resident can make a difference on how the votes turn out on some of these items.
– Item E: The board will be debating whether to adopt a new ordinance prohibiting domestic animals to be tethered unless attended by a competent person AND eleven (11) conditions are met. I still have questions about why this new ordinance is even needed since Huntersville already penalizes abuse of animals under 94.36, but the tethering ordinance language has at least been revised so that a violation will not result in jail time. [Update: This measure passed – not surprisingly.]
– Item G: The mayor is pushing for approval of a new interlocal agreement with Davidson and Cornelius to form the “North Mecklenburg Alliance.” I wrote about this briefly in my Sept. 29, 2016 Herald column. This new advocacy group is unnecessary – the three mayors are already free to get together anytime they choose to talk about how great the Red Line is going to be once they can finally figure out how to actually pay for it. But, as currently drafted, the real problem with this agreement is the “Chuck Travis clause” in Article 6(b) that allows the towns to not authorize the Alliance to represent their interest before any legislative body. This is backwards. It should be the Alliance that has the obligation to request authorization from the towns before being able to advocate a position before a legislative body, the towns should not have to take action to ensure the Alliance does not advocate a position that town opposes. [Update: This measure – surprisingly – did not pass after the mayor voted against in order to break a 3-3 tie with Commissioners Boone, Kidwell and Gibbons voting in favor, and Commissioners Bales, Guignard and Phillips voting against. Commissioner Bales raised a valid concern – what happens if Huntersville gets outvoted by the other members on an issue, say supporting the Red Line? We’re the larger town, why cede such authority to two or more smaller towns?]
Consent Agenda – An aside, Huntersville consistently has more items on their consent agenda than Cornelius or Davidson. This is problematic from a transparency standpoint because it makes it possible to avoid debate and a separate, recorded vote by each elected official on controversial items.
– Item F: As part of the consent agenda, the board will be voting to approve a budget amendment recognizing insurance revenue in the amount of $6,311.72 and appropriating this revenue to the Police Dept’s insurance account. [Update: Chief Spruill stated at the meeting this specific appropriation was the result of a patrol car hitting a deer. I will be sending a records request for more information.] 16 of 23 meetings this calendar year have included a similar item on the consent agenda totaling $46,668.95. No information or documentation is ever included in the agenda packet explaining the basis for this insurance revenue. I’m not sure how Cornelius or Davidson deals with these appropriations because this item rarely, if ever, seems to appear on their agendas.
Commissioner Boone began the practice of asking Chief Spruill to explain these appropriations at the Jan. 19, 2016 meeting, but apparently the board has dispensed with this practice because another explanation has not been requested since that meeting to the best of my knowledge. At the Jan. 19 meeting, Chief Spruill explained the specific appropriations on that agenda were related to a motor vehicle accident involving an officer and a hit-and-run causing damage to a parked police vehicle. Hopefully the board will get back to requesting more information on these items or at least require more information to be included in the agenda packet to improve transparency.