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New Sculpture Trail, Public Hearings on Electric Rates and the FY19 Budget, Designated Truck Routes and More on Monday's Town Council Agenda

05/18/2018

We hope you will join us 6 p.m. Monday, May 21 for the Clayton Town Council meeting at The Clayton Center/Town Hall, 111 East Second Street in Downtown Clayton.

You can view the full agenda packet online here, or click here to download a PDF copy. Here are the highlights:

2018-19 Clayton Sculpture Trail Selections

Clayton’s reputation as an arts community is growing! Nearly 50 different sculptures were entered for consideration in the 2018-19 Clayton Sculpture Trail, a record-setting number for this annual rotating outdoor exhibit now going into its 6th year.  Artists from as far a Florida and Indiana submitted works to be displayed throughout Downtown Clayton.

On Monday, Sara Perricone, chairwoman of the Public Art Advisory Board, will present the newest selections chosen by a subcommittee of the board to be installed in June.

Perricone will also announce the winner of the $1,000 People’s Choice Award for the Sculpture Trail, where more than 850 votes were cast to decide the favorite. The Board is particularly proud of the participation with Clayton schools which encouraged more than 300 students to share their artistic opinions on public art. 

Public Hearings

The Council will open the floor for public discussion before voting to approve or deny the following:

Proposed Electric Rates Increase

Following Black & Veatch consultants' presentation of a rate study and five-year fiscal forecast for Clayton Public Power at last month's meeting, the Town Council will consider raising electric rates by 3.1 percent beginning June 1. The rate increase is driven by two forces: the rising cost of electricity, which the Town buys wholesale from Duke Energy, and the rising cost of maintaining the distribution system and staff required for a hometown public power company. Tasked with managing those rising costs in a responsible way, the Town hired an outside consultant to recommend how best to sustain our local system, while also working to offset the burden of increased wholesale power costs and minimize the impact on our residents.

Since 1915, when Clayton switched-on its first electric street lamp, the Town has remained committed to being a hometown electric company that provides reliable, safe and affordable electricity to our residents. No matter what the weather, we pride ourselves on keeping the lights on. Our linemen are right here, they're local, and they're ready to go. We can proudly say that during widespread storm outages, Clayton Public Power restores your power faster than the investor-owned utilities. There are fixed costs and variable costs involved in running a public electric company. Fixed costs don't change when the cost of electricity goes up or down. They're things like keeping miles of poles and wires well-maintained, building new parts of the electricity network, or paying for trucks, fuel and electric crews. Those costs are not cheap and can make up as much as half of your power bill. The electric base rate  helps to pay for those fixed costs, and for more than two decades, Town of Clayton leaders have left ours unchanged at $6.95. Our fixed costs, however, surpassed that $6.95 base charge a long time ago. Nearby Public Power towns have moved to charging higher base rates, for example, Smithfield charges an $11 base rate, while Wake Forest charges $15.95 a month. The third-party consultants recommended Clayton raise our base rate from $6.95 to $12.75, again the first base rate increase in more than 20 years. 

While that set fee would go up, residents would see the per-kilowatt-hour price of your electricity drop to 11.967 cents from 12.180 cents. This is the portion of your power bill that's under the consumer's control, meaning you can decide how much electricity you use. With an ever-growing number of electrical devices in the home, coupled with increasing energy prices, it’s more important than ever to take control of your electricity consumption. Learn more about MONEY SAVING TIPS on our website. Explore our Electric Use Credit program (or load management program) which can bring you savings up to $60 a year for electric water heaters and $48 for heat pump/heat strips. Under the 25% Program, customers can save up to $24 a year with Air Conditioner Compressor Control, or $40 a year under the 50% Program. You can also get a free personalized energy audit from Clayton Public Power and may be surprised how far some added insulation or caulking around the windows can go in helping you save energy. 

For the average Clayton Public Power residential customer, the consultant's suggested increase will mean $4.37 more a month, or less than 15 cents a day. When the Town of Clayton looked at the median home in the Town of Clayton ($162,000 assessed value), that home consumes about 1100 kWh of electricity a month, paying about $140.93 a month for Clayton Public Power. If the  3.1% rate increase is approved (which includes the first base rate increase in 20 years and the commodity per kWh decrease), that bill would be $3.46 more – going from $140.93 to $144.39 a month. The changes for other customer classes, such as commercial consumers, are included in the study. 

Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget

The Town Council will invite the public to share its thoughts on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19, which will outline spending from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019. Town Manager Adam Lindsay presented his recommended balanced budget to the Council at a workshop on Tuesday, with total expenditures and revenues matching at $25,689,002 for the General Fund, $20,486,792 for the Water & Sewer Fund and $13,884,253 for the Electric Fund – for a total Town budget of $60,060,047.

Initial department requests came in $7 million over the predicted general fund revenues of $23.9 million. Department heads also requested 31 positions. During the past few weeks, staff worked to make tough choices on where to reduce, closing that $7 million gap and landing on requesting 12 positions with start dates that vary through the fiscal year.

When Clayton leaders proposed last year’s $51.2 million spending plan, the newspaper headline read “Clayton Budget Maintains Status Quo: Budget will keep the lights on, but not much else.” Top priority projects aimed at improving the quality of life stayed on the cutting room floor. The headline this year might be just the opposite: “Clayton Bucks Status Quo: Preserves Services, Covers Costs, AND Lays Groundwork for Clayton to Better Transition from Small to Medium-Sized Town.”   

The budget calls for 3-cent property tax increase for a total proposed rate of 58 cents for every $100 of property value. For the median home value in Clayton, that means about a $48 increase in the annual tax bill, equating to about $4 a month. One penny on the tax rate will generate approximately $184,000 in Clayton, with the proposed increase generating about $550,000 in new revenue to dedicate to needed immediate projects like fixing streets, increasing downtown parking, or improving parks. That revenue will become debt service payments toward some significant capital projects within three years.

“This is a path for our staff and town leaders to lay a foundation for how Clayton is going to embrace moving from a small town to the medium-sized town that we are already becoming,” said Town Manager Adam Lindsay. “When I look back at my predecessor 20 years ago, this town was in dire financial straits, it was struggling to get out of a hole because the Town literally had no money. They righted the ship. With the Council’s guidance and leadership along the years, Clayton is now in good shape financially and ready to build the foundation for the next 20 years.”

Like two decades ago, the Mayor and Town Council know Clayton has reached another critical and pivotal moment. In past retreats and in the hiring of new Town manager, they made it clear they wanted to take Clayton to the next level. They’ve made it clear to management and staff that the “next level” cannot be reached without some additional revenues and forward thinking to position Clayton to manage growth and hopefully sustainability through the future. They did not ask staff to reduce the services Clayton offers, so this budget holds the line with some increases in areas they with think would bring good. Council members agreed they don’t like these increases, but they feel they are necessary. And one thing they made clear – if they approve them, they expect to see results right away.

The 2018-19 Clayton budget is one that recognizes that growth is here, and in order to sustain it, both for infrastructure and quality of life needs and interests, it will take additional dollars and careful planning.

This is the second time the Town has sought public input on the 2018-19 budget. Following the public hearing, the Council will likely vote on adoption of the budget.

Sunbelt Rental: Vehicle Sales & Rental Near Intersection of U.S. 70 & U.S. 70 Business

Moffat Properties Inc. seeks a special-use permit to allow vehicle sales and rental on 6.22 acres of a 23.4-acre property located at 7635 U.S. 70 Business, which is just north of the U.S. 70 Bypass. Owned by CMH Homes Inc., the site previously housed Clayton Homes, which sold modular and manufactured houses.

The applicant plans to build a 10,500-square foot building with a 34-space parking lot, according to a site plan, which the Planning Board approved April 23. The majority of the site would be leveled and covered in gravel for outdoor equipment storage. Area lighting would surround the property, and landscaping would be installed around the perimeter.

The Planning Board reviewed the special-use permit on April 23 and recommended the Council approve it.

On April 2, the Council voted to rezone the full 23.4 acres to B-3 Highway Business from B-2 Neighborhood Business and to remove it from the Scenic Highway Overlay District. A strip of the land located along U.S. 70 Business remains in the Thoroughfare Overlay District.

Recovery Logistics Rezoning: 2.3 Acres off South Moore Street

Dalton Engineering & Associates seeks rezoning of 2.3 acres in Downtown Clayton to I-1 Light Industrial from R-10 Residential. Owned by G.T. Page Jr., the land is located between Moore, Atkinson, and Horne streets and is intersected by Bartex Mill Street.

The property is vacant and winds along with a small creek that runs between residential and industrial uses. It currently acts as a de-facto buffer between the two uses. The parcel is unique in that it has frontage on three different Town-owned roads, is split by Bartex Mill Street, and meanders behind 10 different properties (seven of which are zoned residential). The same creek has been marked as a buffered stream on a site plan for the outdoor storage area that currently exists on the adjacent property.

The Town's Future Land Use Map generally shows the area west of the creek designated for Employment Center development – which is consistent with an I-1 Light Industrial zoning – and the area east of the creek designated for Downtown Residential development – which is consistent with the land's current R-10 Residential zoning. Accordingly, staff recommends the Council only rezone the area generally located west of the creek (show in blue on the map) to I-1 Light Industrial.

On Jan. 22, the Planning Board reviewed the request and recommended the Council follow staff's recommendation. The Council originally planned to schedule this hearing on March 5, but delayed it at the applicant's request.

Code Amendment to Remove Scenic Overlay District

Staff seeks an amendment to remove the Scenic Highway Overlay from the Unified Development Code.

The Scenic Highway Overlay (SHO) was established in 2011 to restrict certain additional uses beyond those of the standard underlying zoning district(s). The SHO further restricts uses and development within half a mile of the interchange of U.S. 70 Business and U.S. 70 Bypass because the two interchanges function as entrances, or gateways, into Clayton from U.S. 70. The purpose of the SHO is to “encourage the development of specific uses at SHO interchanges, evoking a sense of arrival at a significant urban destination.”

The SHO has not shown a substantial positive impact on the areas it effects and thus the original intent and reliability of that are in question. There have been multiple instances when the SHO has negatively impacted development in Clayton. Staff feels strongly that the SHO should be removed from the ordinance.

The Planning Board reviewed the amendment on April 23 and recommended the Council approve it.

Designated Commercial Truck Routes

The Council will consider setting a June 4 public hearing for an amendment to the Town's Code of Ordinances that would designate certain routes for commercial truck traffic inside Clayton's town limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Currently, the Code only restricts traffic on a handful of streets in Town. The proposed amendment would provide a comprehensive list of available commercial truck routes and establish penalties for violations. Click here for the proposed ordinance, which includes a list of the list of roads, and click here for a map.

By establishing designated commercial truck routes, the Town would protect its roads from costly repairs caused by heavy truck traffic; provide safety and enjoyment to residents by eliminating regular truck travel through neighborhoods; and generally promote the efficiency and safety of the connecting street system.

The new routes would also reduce the amount of truck traffic in Downtown Clayton. In 2017, drivers in Downtown Clayton reported 11 incidents where parked cars were sideswiped, causing $33,000 in property damage. During the 2018 retreat, Councilman Butch Lawter's car was sideswiped while parked on Main Street.

Budget Amendment: Security Systems and Building Renovations

The Council will consider a $166,500 budget amendment that would fund projects to improve security at The Clayton Center and Clayton Community Center, as well as a number of renovations to The Clayton Center. 

Most of the funds would come from sales tax revenue, which exceeded projections for the fiscal year. The Clayton Center security system project would also use $12,367.31 of insurance funds reimbursed to the Town following a September break-in.

Here's how the spending would break down:

  • $63,550 to outfit The Clayton Center with a security system, including video surveillance, motion sensors, electronic door access control, and more.
  • $45,000 to enhance the security system at Clayton Community Center with video surveillance and electronic door access controls.
  • $6,750 to outfit The Clayton Center lobby with remote-controlled sunshades, which would address issues with intense brightness and heat in the afternoons.
  • $18,500 to construct and furnish a new office for the Town Engineer.
  • $28,700 to reconfigure the GS2 hallways to create a central reception area for the Planning, Engineering and Inspections departments and convert existing hallways space into office space.
  • $4,000 to paint the GS223 meeting room and install a second screen for presentations.

Other Items

The Council will also consider:

  • A contract for Anderson, Smith & Wike PLLC to perform the Town's annual audit for Fiscal Year 2017-18.
  • A proclamation declaring May as Building Safety Month in Clayton. The observance is a "great opportunity to remind the public about the critical role of our communities’ largely unknown guardians of public safety––our local code officials––who assure us of safe, efficient and livable buildings that are essential."
  • A bid recommendation to award a $549,206 contract to Moffat Pipe Inc. for the Central Pump Station Decommissioning Gravity Sewer project. The project, which is being undertaken in conjunction with the ECIA Water and Wastewater Extension Project, will allow install new gravity sewer lines and all the Town to abandon the Central Pump Station.
  • A Local Water Supply Plan, which state law requires the the Town Council approve at least once every five years.
  • Resolutions authorizing the tax administrators of Johnston and Wake counties to collect property taxes on behalf of the Town of Clayton. The Council adopts these resolutions each year.

Closed Session

The Council will go into closed session to conduct the annual review of Town Manager Adam Lindsay (N.C.G.S. § 143-318.11(a)(6)). If the discussion leads to any action, the Council will reconvene in public for a vote.

Need More Info?

If you have any questions about the agenda or any other Town-related issues, please feel free to email Public Information Officer Stacy Beard or call her at 919-358-0348. You may also email Assistant Public Information Officer John Hamlin or call him at 919-480-0170.

Have a great weekend, and we hope to see you at the meeting.

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