News Column

Aldermen to consider revenue bonds, new rules for meetings

August 10, 2014

Sun Journal, New Bern, N.C.

Aug. 10--The New Bern Board of Aldermen on Tuesday will consider changing its rules of doing business and securing $17 million in revenue bonds for the rehabilitation of Phase I and II of Craven Terrace Apartments.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

Aldermen will consider changing the current rules of order and order of business section of the city ordinance. The amended ordinance would strike Section 2-45 that states: "Except as otherwise provided by law or ordinance, the procedure of business at meetings of the board of aldermen shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised ...."

The amended section would say: "Except where otherwise provided by this Code, law or other ordinance, the procedure of business at meetings of the board of aldermen shall be governed by rules of procedure adopted by the board of aldermen, and as amended from time to time by the board of aldermen, and to the extent it does not conflict with North Carolina law or with the spirit of such rules of procedure, the board of aldermen shall refer to Robert's Rules of Order, Revised, to answer unresolved procedural questions."

The proposed Rules of Procedure are largely based upon the procedures proposed and recommended by the UNC School of Government, according to staff.

Aldermen also will consider two resolutions to approve up to $17 million in multifamily housing revenue bonds for Phase I and Phase II of the New Bern Housing Authority's proposed $27 million renovation at Craven Terrace Apartments.

Financing for Phase I is proposed through the issuance of revenue bonds that are not to exceed $7 million and revenue bond financing for Phase II is not to exceed $10 million, staff reports show.

The Internal Revenue Service requires any bonds issued by the Housing Authority for renovation projects first be approved by the city. The approval puts no obligations on the city, nor does it constitute an endorsement of the bonds or the development or creditworthiness of the Housing Authority, according to staff.

The Housing Authority held a public hearing on the bonds at its July 21 meeting.

The issue of a Pollock Street fountain as part of New Bern's downtown gateway also will be discussed. Funding for the fountain -- $75,000 -- was dropped from the current budget during this year's budget deliberations.

The Pollock Street Arts Collaborative, led by Katherine Adolph, in partnership with Development Services staff, recently conducted five community meetings to present and receive feedback on a new park and reconstructed fountain at Pollock and Queen Streets.

The meetings were attended by business owners and residents of the immediate area as well as the city and area at large. There was overwhelmingly positive feedback about the conceptual designs for the park and fountain, as evidenced by 68 comment cards that were completed, according to staff reports.

Staff recommends the designs be approved so they may be included in the recently adopted Parks and Recreation Plan and so staff may proceed with more detailed determinations of cost and sources of funding, reports show.

Aldermen also will consider an amendment to the new advanced metering system.

The system allows electric and water meters to be read through a two-way communication system. The initial phase was at a cost of $450,000, and in January 2013, the board approved an amendment in the amount of $500,000, which brought the total project to $950,000. It is requested $2.5 million be added to the project to complete the second phase, staff reports show.

If approved, the amendment will bring the total cost of the metering system project to $3.45 million. The second phase includes installation of 5,000 electric meters, 5,000 water meters and 1,000 load-management devices.

A resolution of official intent to reimburse for those funds will be considered.

The completion of the second phase of the project will be paid with proceeds from borrowing. It is necessary to adopt a declaration of official intent to reimburse prior to incurring expenses. Doing so allows the city to pay itself back for items paid prior to obtaining financing, according to staff.

A budget amendment will be considered for purchase orders that were still open June 30. In order to honor these purchase orders during the current fiscal year, a budget amendment is needed to roll them over and reestablish encumbrances.

Aldermen will hear a presentation on the performance of the city's new utility collections that went into effect July 1 and have caused anger from some customers who are seeing large bills for not paying on time.

The board will also consider adopting a resolution for the annual settlement of property taxes collected for 2013-14. The general tax levy for fiscal year 2013-14 was collected at a rate of 98.59 percent, and the Municipal Service District (MSD) was collected at a rate of 99.58 percent. In the prior year, the general tax levy for 2012-13 was collected at 98.25 percent and the collection rate for the MSD was 99.98 percent, reports show.

An ordinance will be considered to establish a Neuse Boulevard Sidewalk Project Fund and amendment to the general fund.

The board previously adopted a resolution to enter into an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for Phase I of the Neuse Boulevard Sidewalk Project. The total cost of the project is $60,990. The DOT grant will provide $49,700 towards the project, and the remainder of the funding will come from an $11,290 transfer from the Public Works Street Division, according to staff reports.

The ordinance will establish the grant project fund known as "Neuse Boulevard Sidewalk Grant Project," and the budget ordinance amendment will transfer the $11,290 from the Street Division to Interfund Transfers to allow for the project.

Aldermen will conduct two public hearings for a rezoning request and to amend the zoning map.

Jimmy Dillahunt is requesting two .08-acre lots at 509 Second Ave. and 506 Third Ave. be rezoned from an R-6 Residential Districts to a C-3 Commercial Districts. The Third Avenue property is currently vacant, and the Second Avenue property contains an unoccupied single-family dwelling that is in need of repair.

As part of the rezoning the city will also request the zoning map be amended to so the Broad Street Commercial Corridor Overlay be extended to include these properties.

The board will consider a resolution allowing the mayor to accept the 2015 Entitlement Cities Community Development Block Grant of $263,375 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and a resolution to establish a fund budget for the grant. An action plan was approved July 22 for the $263,375.

Scott Davis, city attorney, has provided a listing of all boards and commissions with city-appointed members. He will be available to discuss the list and answer any questions.

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(c)2014 the Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.)

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Source: Sun Journal (New Bern, NC)


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