Council members present: Mayor Andy Moore, David Barbour, John Dunn,
Marlon Lee, Steve Rabil, David Stevens, Roger Wood
Absent: Travis Scott
GRANT MATCH INCREASED BECAUSE OF AMAZON PAY
At its July meeting, the council approved the town's applying for a federal grant resulting from the American Rescue Plan Act of Congress that would fund the lion's share of a $3.8-million project to upgrade sewer utilities in West Smithfield where the Amazon distribution center is being built. To win approval, the council agreed at that time to put up $760,000 in local funds.
Town Manager Mike Scott informed the council at this week's meeting that the local match would have to be raised to $950,000 under grant rules established by the U.S. Economic Development Administration because wages to be paid by Amazon would be less than the average for all of Johnston County.
Mr. Scott said Amazon's coming is not dependent on the sewerage upgrades. Even so, Councilman Barbour made a motion to approve the larger local match in light of other pending industrial and residential projects coming to West Smithfield. The council adopted his motion without dissent.
The town manager said funds are in the town's current budget to cover the match for the grant, especially since the County of Johnston agreed to pick up the cost of completing a second water line to West Smithfield that's being installed alongside Durwood Stephenson Parkway.
NEW UTILITY-DEPOSIT POLICY FOR NEW ACCOUNTS
The council approved a recommendation from Finance Director Greg Siler to end the practice of refunding utility deposits after 12 months of service to new residential customers (24 months for commercial customers). He said the new policy will significantly cut the town's losses when customers move away without paying delinquent bills. Mr. Siler noted that the nearby towns of Benson, Clayton, and Kenly already have the no-refund policy in place, with Clayton reporting a 99% collection rate for payments left unpaid when customers depart.
MANHOLE INSPECTIONS WILL COST $77,710
The council approved a $77,710 contract with Hydrostructures of Pittsboro to perform sewer manhole inspections. Director of Utilities Ted Credle noted in a memo to the council that the expense will be covered by a portion of a $150,000 Asset Inventory and Assessment Grant from the N.C. Division of Environmental Quality. The work to be done will incorporate results into the town's official utilities service map, he noted.
DOWNTOWN, PLANNING APPOINTMENTS MADE
The council approved three appointments:
• Tim Depp was newly appointed to the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation's board. A resident of Smithfield, he owns a landscaping business based in Garner. He presently serves on the town's Appearance Commission.
• Michael Johnson was reappointed to a second term on the Planning Board.
• Sarah Edwards was reappointed to a fifth term on the Board of Adjustment.
PROCLAMATIONS: PUBLIC POWER, FIRE PREVENTION
The council adopted resolutions proclaiming October 3-9 as Public Power Week in Smithfield and October as Fire Prevention Month.
PERMITS APPROVED FOR TWO SPECIAL EVENTS
The council approved permits for two special events:
• "Boo Bash," Parks & Recreation's annual Halloween party at the Sarah Yard Community Center from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, October 29.
• Mucho Mexico's private event to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the restaurant owner's death, involving small fireworks and amplified sound, 1-8 p.m. Saturday, November 6.
COUNCILMAN THANKFUL FOR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Near the end of Tuesday's session, Councilman Wood thanked members of Smithfield's Fire Department and EMS personnel for quickly reaching his residence on September 20 to save the life of his wife, who was suffering severe complications related to a recent bout with COVID. "We're all very fortunate" to have these well-trained public servants, he said. "They were right on it."