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A Lifesaving Firehouse Subs Grant, Miss Clayton, a Budget and More on Monday's Town Council Agenda

05/04/2018

We hope you will join us 6 p.m. Monday, May 7 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:

Firehouse Subs Foundation Awards Lifesaving Grant to Clayton Fire Department

The lifesaving capabilities of the Clayton Fire Department are getting a huge boost from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Thanks to the support of the local Firehouse Subs restaurant and donations from its patrons, the department has been awarded a grant for an inflatable, motorized rescue boat, along with a trailer. The grant, valued at $25,758.25, will also include 8 rescue swimmer kits to help outfit firefighters with helmets, wetsuits, gloves, boots and roping.

"This is simply outstanding and well-deserved," said Paul Meador, owner of the Firehouse Subs restaurant just off Shotwell Road and U.S. 70 Business in Clayton. “Chief Barbee and his department have been a big part of our success at Firehouse Subs #1237 and General Manager James Taylor has been an incredible advocate, encouraging our restaurant patrons to donate to our Public Safety Foundation. As the owner, it has been my privilege to work with Chief Barbee for the past 3 years and see the staff at Clayton grow under James' leadership. I could not be more happy for the Clayton Fire Department and for Firehouse Subs in Clayton!”

Clayton has recently responded to several water incidents and emergencies where rescue equipment like this would have been key, including a search for a missing kayaker on the Neuse River in the dark of night and the discovery of a submerged minivan just off the NC42 bridge. The river is one of Clayton’s most vital natural resources, with activity along the river increasing in recent years with the completion of the Clayton River Walk on the Neuse greenway, a 4 mile stretch of the Mountains to Sea Trial and East Coast Greenway system which runs along the water. The Neuse is also prone to flooding, with near record levels reached in recent storms.

Currently, the Clayton Fire Department only possesses an inflatable paddle boat. In recent emergencies, Clayton crews have had to wait up to 45 minutes for another department to arrive with a motorized boat that can compete with the swift-moving waters of the Neuse River. The department had made budget requests for similar water rescue equipment, but those requests had to be cut from the Town of Clayton budget in recent tight fiscal years to address other critical town needs.

“One of the best things about the boat from Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation is it can be launched from anywhere - you don’t need a ramp, you can get close and then carry it to the water, which is what we need,” said Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Jason Dean, who had submitted the grant application two years running. “It can go just about anywhere in any condition. And the rescue swimmer equipment will protect our firefighters from injury or hypothermia during any kind of weather. I can’t thank Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and their donors enough.”

Water rescues may not be as frequent as other calls, but when firefighter deaths in fires are compared to the number of firefighter deaths on water rescues, a firefighter has a 400% higher chance of dying due to the dynamics of hazards related to water. Rescuers can often become victims themselves, but with increased response times and properly-equipped firefighters and boats – rescues don’t have to turn into recoveries. 

The Clayton Fire Department hopes to begin ordering the equipment soon and to have in place for planned swift water rescue training this July.

In 2005, the Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment, and educational opportunities to first-responders and public safety organizations. Through the non-profit 501(c)(3), Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has granted more than $33 million to hometown heroes in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including more than $1.1 million in North Carolina.

Introduction of 2018 Miss Clayton Lauren Walsh

This year's Miss Clayton, Lauren Walsh, will introduce herself to the Town Council.

Walsh won her crown in a pageant held March 3 at The Clayton Center. In 2015, Walsh was crowned as the first-ever Miss Clayton's Outstanding Teen. She won over hearts when she delighted attendees of our Clayton Parks & Recreation Special Needs dance recently and didn't leave the dance floor! 

Walsh will go on this summer to represent Clayton in the Miss North Carolina pageant.

Introduction of Police Officers and Streets and Property Maintenance Workers

Police Chief Blair Myhand will introduce the Town Council to three recently sworn-in officers: Randall Ackley, Grant Harris and Jonathan Guider.

Supervisor Steve Blasko will introduce streets maintenance technician Rodney Atkinson and property maintenance technicians Ray Rhodes and Dwayne Uhler.

Police Week Proclamation

The Council will proclaim the week of May 13-19 as Police Week in the Town of Clayton. This national observance recognizes the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers in the United States who have made the ultimate sacrifice since the first recorded death in 1791.

The Clayton Police force has lost 3 of its officers: Patrol Officer Charles Lee, Patrol Officer Ray Gilmore and Lt. Monica Carey.

This past Tuesday, several Clayton Officers attend the Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony in Wilson with the mother, son, daughter and grandchildren of Officer Ray Gilmore. 

On Monday, May 14 at 9 a.m., Clayton Police will hold a brief ceremony at the flag poles at our Clayton Police Memorial in front of the Clayton Law Enforcement Center, 315 E. Second Street. We invite the public to join us in honoring these officers who gave their lives to protect the Town of Clayton.

Updates from Library and Police

The Town Council will receive staff reports from two department heads toward the end of Monday's meeting.

Library Director Joy Garretson will recap recent events and changes at Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library – including the teen Rock the Block and building renovations – and preview what's to come, including an expanded summer reading program that will include events for children, teens and adults.

Police Chief Blair Myhand will formally introduce a new design proposed for the Clayton Police Department's fleet of vehicles. He'll also formally invited Town Council to the first annual Clayton Police Awards Ceremony, to be held on Tuesday, May 8th at 6 p.m. in the Council chambers. 

Setting Public Hearings for Future Meetings

The Town Council will take a first look at the following items and consider scheduling public hearings for them. Unless otherwise noted, the hearings will be placed on the Monday, May 21 agenda:

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

Town Council will schedule a hearing for its May 21 regularly-scheduled meeting, inviting the public to share its thoughts on the proposed 2018-19 Town budget. 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 budget for Clayton 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.

Again, members of the public are invited to share their thoughts on the recommended proposed budget at the public hearing Monday, May 21 at 6 p.m. 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.

Floodplain Ordinance Revisions (June 4 Public Hearing)

Staff proposes an amendment to the Town's Code of Ordinances to adopt the updated Flood Insurance Rate Map, which is required to maintain participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The new maps are available for viewing on the N.C. Flood Mapping Program's website using the Flood Risk Information System (FRIS) viewer.

The Council must take action by June 20 to remain in the program.

System Development Fees (June 18 Public Hearing)

The Town of Clayton is inviting the public to comment on potential changes to public water and sewer system development fees.

The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed House Bill 436 (HB 436) to help address fee inconsistencies among public providers, including calculation methodologies and implementation. The new law allows public water and sewer providers like the Town of Clayton to charge water & sewer System Development Fees (SDFs) to recover all or a portion of the capital investment made by the Town to provide sufficient capacity in its system to serve new users. 

The Town of Clayton recently commissioned Black & Veatch, a global utility consulting firm, analyze its water and sewer System Development Fees (SDFs) considering current events, in order to ensure compliance with HB 436.

The Town of Clayton proposes to update water and sewer System Development Fees for Fiscal Year 2019.The fees are charged to only new customers.

Click here to review the analysis

Per HB 436 guidelines, the Town of Clayton is required to offer a 45-day public comment period on the analysis and its recommendations.

Click here to email any public comment in response to the analysis 

A public hearing on the System Development Fees is set for the regularly-scheduled Council meeting on June 18, 2018 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers inside The Clayton Center/Town Hall, 111 E. Second Street in Downtown Clayton. You can also submit your comments in writing or in person by coming to Town Hall. For questions, call 919-553-5002 or email info@TownofClaytonNC.org

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 originally planned to hear this item on Feb. 19, but continued 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.

Request to Surplus Fire Department Skid Unit

When fire breaks out in an area that’s inaccessible for a large fire truck, the Clayton Fire Department utilizes a piece of equipment called a skid unit. These are self-contained firefighting units, complete with tank, pump and hose which are usually mounted in the back of a flatbed truck or other smaller vehicle. They’ve been a great asset, but the as the Town of Clayton continues to urbanize, the department no longer needs to maintain two of these units. One skid unit was taken out of service last year and the pickup truck that formally carried the equipment was re-purposed as the department’s Battalion Chief vehicle for incident response. Currently, one brush fire skid unit is maintained at Clayton Fire Station 2, which is closer to forest and rural areas of the district.

On Monday, the Town Council will consider a resolution to surplus the out-of-service skid unit. Not only are these units a great asset to any fire department, but they also benefit park operations, forest services, and private corporations. Leaders with the Four Oaks Fire Department have expressed their interest in the skid unit to replace one of their own and has offered to pay $1,000 for it.

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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