Town Manager One-On-One
Monday I met virtually with the town manager for our weekly meeting. We talked about the upcoming quarterly meeting and topics that would be covered which included the budget, The Fenton, a development update, an Environmental update, and the Electric Bike Pilot.
Wednesday I participated in the Western Wake Tennis Association Senior Appreciation Day exhibition. I joined Cary’s Tennis Services Coordinator, Sean Ferreira, in an exhibition with two seniors in attendance. Before the exhibition I thanked those in attendance for supporting the Cary Tennis Park and growing the game of tennis. The exhibition consisted of four games of six points. I was a great time and I loved being at the Cary Tennis Park.
Council-Staff Quarterly Meeting
Thursday the council and staff held their first quarterly meeting of the year. Motions approved at the quarterly meeting included:
- A motion to use $475,000 from the Utility Fund to purchase the 1.8-megawatt South Cary Solar field: Passed Unanimously
- A motion to use $154,019 of DERA grant funds and $189,446 general funds to purchase an electric sanitation truck: Passed 6 – 1
- A resolution allowing a pilot program for E-Bikes on greenways: Passed 7 – 0
- A motion to approve the Fenton’s request to change Pod 2A to have a smaller grocery store, extend main street, have flexible signage, and make revisions to the PDP: Passed 5 – 2
- A motion to allow the Fenton a waiver to come back with a proposal to add a green roof and more height to Pod 2A: Passed 7 – 0
The following are notes related to the motions and to other discussion topics:
- Cary received SolSmart gold this year.
- Cary catalogs of datasets with energy information are available through the open data portal.
- The South Cary Solar Farm will offset 20% of the facility’s energy needs
- Purchasing the South Cary Solar Farm has a 5-to-10-year Return on Investment.
- Emission Reductions from the South Cary Solar Farm is equivalent to 184 homes or 1870 acres of forest.
- Transportation and the Environment:
- We began a pilot program to evaluate electric lawn mowers. The one we purchased is twice the price of a typical mower.
- With the approved motion (mentioned above) the town will purchase an electric garbage truck from Mack. This pilot truck is three times the cost of a typical truck. Garbage trucks are one of the biggest carbon producers in the town’s fleet. We will have the only electric garbage truck in the state and maybe the only one on the east coast. The truck will have a five-year bumper to bumper warranty and a ten-year batter warranty.
- Tree Canopy:
- Trees planted at Middle Creek Park as part of the My Tree Our Tree program.
- My Tree Our Tree program gave away 600 trees this spring and will give away 600 in the fall as it did last year.
- The Williams property of ten acres, located about ¼ mile from the American Tobacco Trail, was purchased since it was 60% in the floodplain. It will remain protected from development.
- The Rain It In program now has nine videos in its series. The purpose is to provide techniques to slow, capture, or absorb rainfall.
- 8000 dry tons of biosolids were produced from the Western Wake Regional Water Reclamation Facility and sold in 2021.
- New food waste programs are successful. 13,397 pounds were collected in one week.
- Environmental education and advocacy programs:
- Solar workshops
- Compost workshops
- For the Birds Campaign
- Earth Day, Arbor Day, and Herb Fest
- Capital Projects:
- Carpenter Fire Station Road Bridge is complete
- Construction costs for town have seen 18% increase and longer times to get materials
- There are 500 active projects of about $1 billion which require 70 project managers and involve 10 departments
- Future tennis park upgrades will include solar which will offset energy costs by 50%
- Downtown Park is expected to open late summer of next year
- Black Creek Greenway project is divided into ten increments to allow for sewer rehabilitation.
- Crabtree Creek Greenway opens this summer.
- The Black Creek Greenway bridge is under design.
- The High House and Old Apex water line and sidewalk project will take about a year.
- The Kildaire Farm water line project will include street enhancements and corridor improvements.
- Cary has hired an urban designer who will help with illustrative support and problem solving.
- USA Baseball expansion and two new neighborhood parks have broken ground.
- Council approved a resolution allowing E-Bikes on greenways as a pilot. This pilot will be from June 1st until the end of the year. The police department will use two E-Bikes. Currently, motorized vehicles of any kind are prohibited from greenways. Speed limit signs of 15 mph will be posted on greenways.
- The proposed budget:
- Tax rate of $.345 which is unchanged (one penny on the tax rate equals about $3.4 million)
- Solid waste fee to increase $1.50 (this will bring operating cost recovery of wastewater to 94%)
- Utility rate will increase 3% to cover inflation of materials
- For FY2022 (ending June 30th) we have collected 98% of property tax
- Overall FY 2023 proposed budget is $443.6 million which is a 10.9% increase ($324 million for operations and $119 million for capital projects)
- Inflation, supply chain issues, employee compensation, and the downtown park have a significant impact on this year’s budget
- $7.3 million included for street improvements
- $8.75 million for sidewalks ($7.5 million from ARPA funds)
- $13.5 million for water and sewer line rehabilitation
- $2.4 million for the rehabilitation of fire station #4
- $19.1 million for transportation projects and $5.4 million for parks projects as park of 2019 bond referendum
- $9 million for housing ($5 million from ARPA and $4 million from town)
- $18.4 for bus maintenance facility (total cost is $39.2 funded by Wake Transit Tax)
- There will be costs brining the downtown park online
- Adding 6 new police officers for downtown and 6 new police vehicles for $2.4 million
- Council approved giving employees an average merit increase of 5%
- Council approved giving employees a one-time payment of $3,000 to $5,000 for inflation
- Council approved enhancements to current benefits at a cost of $4 million for a leave package and to enhance current benefits
- The mayor will be sending a letter to employees on behalf of the council
- The budget can be found online at Cary’s FY 2023 Recommended Budget
- The motion to the Fenton rezoning change was approved after brief discussion
- 2 rezoning cases this quarter
- Of 37 requests for rezonings only 8 submitted which is a 13% conversion rate
- 30 development plans were approved last year
- 202 residential plans were approved which was close to the five-year average of 226
The quarterly meeting ended after four hours. All topics but Accessory Dwelling Units were covered. That will be covered at our next quarterly meeting.
Friday morning I did a very short video at Booth amphitheater encouraging people to vote and endorsing Council member Yerha. You can see it at https://www.edyerha.com/endorsements.
Triangle Math and Science Academy Visit
Later Friday morning I visited the Triangle Math and Science Academy off Gregson Drive in Cary. The school, which has Kindergarten through High School, is ranked as one of the top ten Charter Schools in the state. Led by student ambassadors and administrators, I toured the school for about an hour. Along the way I spoke to first graders, visited a biology class, and visited a pre-calculus class. I also spent time talking to the administrators about their future expansion plans. At the end of my visit, I was presented a beautiful crystal globe by the superintendent. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. The teachers, students, faculty, and administration were all so very kind. To read a summary of my visit see https://www.tmsapcs.org/news/cary_mayor_visits_t_m_s_a.
Cary Fire Department 100-year celebration breakfast
Saturday morning I joined council members Smith and Robinson in a ceremonial breakfast marking the 100 year anniversary of the Cary Fire Department. The event, held at Fire Station 9 on Walnut Street, had about 100 attendees mostly made up of retired firefighters. The event kicked off with a traditional push of a 1940s fire truck out of the fire bay by retirees. It was the 75th year of that tradition commemorating when horses were used for fire apparatus. Chief Cooper, council member Smith, and I provided remarks. Then a group photo was taken in front of the fire station. Other events celebrating the 100th anniversary include Movie on the Lawn on June 3rd at the old library site, the Fire Truck parade on June 4th in downtown followed by a street dance on Academy, the official anniversary on June 6th with an open house at all fire stations, and the 100th Anniversary Showcase on June 25th at Bond Park. We are truly blessed to have the best fire department in the state if not the southeast. As an indication of the interest to belong to such a great family of firefighters, there are currently 500 applications for 16 positions.
Emails from citizens this week included:
- A complaint about traffic at Old Apex and Laura Duncan related to an Apex apartment development
- A high school student complaining about the lack of transit options
- A complaint about dirty tennis balls around Preston at Lakeridge
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, a meeting with NC Tennis Association representatives, a meeting with OneWake members, a meeting of the Wake County Mayors Association, a meeting of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board, a bust installation of an amazing Cary citizen, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Friday, May 20th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to email@example.com.