There is a town board meeting tonight at 6:30pm – the pre-meeting starts at 5pm. You can view the agenda or download the full agenda packet here. You can watch a live stream of tonight’s meeting at the town’s Ustream page here. I can’t cover every agenda 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 D: The board will consider whether to authorize up to $100,000 for yet another transportation study, this time focusing on northwest Huntersville and the proposed extensions of Birkdale Commons Pkwy, Hugh Torance Pkwy, and Ervin Cook Rd. The good news is that CRTPO has agreed to provide up to $50,000 in reimbursement at the conclusion of the study – of course, the reimbursement would still come from taxpayer dollars so I’m not sure how that makes it any better. My question, has this corridor never been studied before? If it has, why is another study needed? [Update: passed 5-1]
– Item F: The board will consider appointments to the recently formed Ordinance Advisory Board. Three members with expiring terms are seeking to be re-appointed, but there are 14 other applications listed so there’s clearly a high interest level among Huntersville residents to get involved with this advisory board. [Update: all three current members were re-appointed – Hines, Henson, and Walsh]
– Item C: The board is being asked to appropriate $2,340.99 to the Huntersville police department’s insurance account. Why you may be asking? Likely because of a motor vehicle accident involving a police vehicle, but that would just be an educated guess since the town consistently declines to specify the basis for this frequent consent agenda item. And who is responsible for repairing police vehicles that have been damaged in an accident? [Update: after Commissioner Boone removed this item from Consent, Chief Spruill advised this was related to an MVA during a high-speed chase on I-77. He also advised there were only two facilities in the area capable of performing all necessary repairs to police vehicles and that the police vehicles are repaired at the least expensive of these two options – the Toyota Collision Center at Toyota of North Charlotte.]
– Item G: If approved, a public hearing will be called for March 20 to consider
corporate welfare an economic development incentive grant to new Huntersville business Oerlikon Metro. According to the Charlotte Observer article on this job announcement, the expansion is possible because of a $1 million incentive grant from the One North Carolina Fund. According to the OneNC site, corporate welfare awards are allocated to local governments as part of a negotiated challenge grant. By statute, OneNC requires that a local government provide an incentive to match the OneNC funding. The required local match depends on the tier designation of the county – in a Tier 3 county the local government must provide no less than a dollar for dollar match of the OneNC grant, although the matching funds can take various forms including cash, in-kind services, or donations of land. Mecklenburg County is designated a Tier 3 county by the Commerce Department. Of note, the local government may establish ALL OR PART of its match by securing PRIVATE COMMITMENTS of assistance to the project. How much, if any, of the local match will Huntersville work to obtain from private commitments?
Since Huntersville is in a Tier 3 county, this would seem to me to indicate the town will be on the hook for at least a million dollars of matching funds to ensure the Oerlikon Metro expansion. Strangely enough, Commissioner Bales neglected to include this information during her comments about the Oerlikon announcement at the February 6 board meeting. My question on this topic remains the same, how were any jobs ever created before the existence of the OneNC Fund and our current
corporate welfare incentive system?
Oh, and of course the board will be going into closed session at the pre-meeting tonight to discuss the Oerlikon incentive even though it’s already public knowledge how much the state is providing because residents can’t be trusted to know how our elected officials intend to negotiate with our money. Fortunately the town is well aware that closed session minutes are public record so I’ll be sure to post an account of the minutes once I receive them.