Chapel Hill budgets money for park

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

By Karen Hall

Editor

Chapel Hill has a budget for the fiscal year that started yesterday, July 1.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Monday, the last day of June, for a public hearing on the budget, before the third and final vote to accept it.

No citizens came to the hearing to comment on the budget, so after a few moments Interim Administrator Austin Edmondson declared the hearing closed.

Edmondson pointed out some features of the budget. It includes $355,000 for parks and recreation.

"That's quite a bit," exclaimed Alderman Pam Elliott.

The town already owns about 20 acres on West Depot Street, just before the railroad tracks. Right now, all that's there is a concrete tennis court with a fence. Edmondson said the plan is to build softball and baseball fields, restrooms, and a walking track on the land.

The project has been talked about for years, and delayed in an effort to get enough finance.

Now the town can afford it, and Edmondson said he put the money in the budget thinking, "If you're going to build it, let's quit talking about it and do it."

He told the mayor and aldermen the budget also includes the money for Chapel Hill's share of the cost of consolidated 911 dispatch.

Elliott asked several questions about details of the budget, like the $20,000 for "miscellaneous" and $5,000 for the industrial board.

"They have money," she said of the industrial board. "Why are we giving them five grand?"

"That's a good question!" said Aldermen Marion Joyce and Dottie Morton, while Alderman Horace Hill said, "We ought to lower that."

"I would like for them to send their minutes (of meetings) to us," said Joyce.

Elliott also asked about the large amount of money for public works, and Edmondson explained $100,000 of that was for paving streets.

"I don't remember us discussing that much for paving," Elliott said.

"There was no paving this year that I'm aware of," Edmondson reminded her.

Town attorney J. Todd Moore reminded the board that they were approving the budget only to the level of detail shown in the ordinance and published in the Tribune on June 13, and they retained some power over the different expenditures.

With this reassurance, the 2014-2015 budget was unanimously approved.

"Thank you for your hard work doing it," Alderman Tommy Lawrence said to Edmondson, whose last day at work will be July 10. After that, he will be available by phone until the end of the month for the new administrator and recorder/treasurer, who both start on July 7.

"I think he's done an awesome job," said Lawrence. "He's been doing the recorder's job, too -- he's been doing double duty."

"Thank you for your service," added Elliott.

Edmondson handed each alderman a copy of the audit report, which will be discussed at their next meeting. His final act was to recommend a retreat at Henry Horton State Park with their new administrator, recorder/treasurer, the mayor and all the aldermen, so they could talk as long as they liked about the direction they want the Town of Chapel Hill to take in the future.

"Find yourself a good facilitator," Edmondson advised.