Maggie gives public more time to mull budget
Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen decided to hold off on adopting the 2014-15 budget to give the public more time to review the recent changes made to the proposed draft.
The board held a public hearing for the budget during its regular meeting Monday, but no one in the audience offered any input.
Town Manager Nathan Clark went over the recent changes made as a result of the budget workshops. The budget can be viewed at www.townofmaggievalley.com or at town hall.
The original proposed budget called for a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise and a 1.5 percent merit raise for town employees. After further discussions, the board removed the 1.5 percent merit raise. The $12,750 budgeted for the merit raises was moved to contingency.
The proposed budget also included the purchase of two new vehicles for administration, but the board decided to only allocate money for one administrative vehicle. Clark said it would likely be a small SUV, and $30,000 is budgeted.
Another change is to the festival grounds fund. The town first budgeted more than $19,000 for overtime associated with weekend event coverage from the police department and public works. After closer examination, the board decided only about $7,000 was needed for overtime, which saved the town more than $11,000.
Clark’s proposed budget recommended restoring the town’s sewer impact fees to 2006-07 levels of $7.71 per gallon universally applied to new or expanding residential and commercial customers. However, the board reached a consensus to only increase the impact fee to $6 per gallon across the board — $1 more per gallon than the 2013-14 budget.
The last change had to do with the sewer user fees. To create a more sustainable sewer fund, the board agreed to change the user fees. The minimum rates will remain the same but the “over the minimum” rate will be increased by 50 cents. The change will result in “in-town” customers paying $4 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum and “out-of-town” customers paying $8 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum.
ABC permit solution
Craig Justus, the town’s newly appointed attorney, gave the board an update on the issue of ABC permitting for festival grounds events. Last summer, the town ran into a problem when trying to apply for an ABC permit for a concert event at the festival grounds.
The state ABC board rejected the permit request because the application stated the town would split alcohol proceeds with the promoter. Even though that was the way the town had operated for several years, the new ABC board said the permit would have to be in the town’s name and the town had to receive 100 percent of the alcohol revenue.
In an effort to get out of the festival business and put the responsibility on the event promoters, Justus said he had found a solution. He said the ABC Commission would allow the town to sign a lease agreement with the promoter for the festival grounds and then the promoter could sublet space to vendors who wanted to sell alcohol. The vendor would then be responsible for applying for the permit.
Mayor Ron DeSimone said he was in Raleigh for Town Hall Day last week and spoke to ABC Commission members about it.
“They are OK with that as a short-term fix, but they’re not happy with it as a long-term solution,” he said. “They would prefer the town enter into a management contract with the group selling alcohol.
Justus said of course the state would want to have a direct contract with the town because it would be easier to pin the liability on the local government.
“You don’t want the town to be liable,” he said.
In other business, the town went into closed session at the end of the meeting to discuss “a potential claim that might arrive from Torry Enterprises Inc.,” according to Justus.
No motions were made after the board returned to an open session.