New Maggie board gets to work

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Dec 15, 2013

For the first time in more than a year, the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen had a full board Thursday night and members didn’t waste anytime getting right down to business.

For more than a year before the November election, the board couldn't agree on who to appoint to a seat vacated by former Alderman Phil Aldridge, so it operated with three aldermen and the mayor.

Town hall wasn’t as packed as it has been in previous months when many important votes ended in a deadlock. But the tension was low for the first board meeting and members seemed to be setting a new tone for 2014.

The public comment portion of Maggie meetings has been known to go on for an hour and often gets heated, but only one person spoke up Thursday. Billy Case, who ran for alderman in November, asked the board to consider creating a brand new town position.

He said the town needed an economic development director, especially now since the town didn’t have a festival grounds director to help plan out events months in advance. Ideally, the director would help bring in new businesses, help existing businesses expand and bring people to the festival grounds.

Mayor Ron DeSimone said the board would be holding public workshops in January to discuss the policies of the festival grounds and to develop a plan moving forward. In October, festival grounds director Audrey Hager was fired and Town Manager Tim Barth resigned after some questionable financial dealings with the Matt Stillwell concert in August.

The board also plans to meet and discuss the Move Maggie Forward project. DeSimone said the plan belonged to the business community but he was interested in adding a residential component to the discussion so residents in Maggie can have a say in the direction of the town.

In other business, the board heard end-of-year updates from the auditor, the ABC board and the Haywood County Tourist Development Authority.

Erica Brown, with Martin, Starnes & Associates, gave the annual audit report. She said the town received a clean audit for the year and went over the specifics for the year.

The fund balance has increased over last year to more than $2 million and Brown said the town had enough in the fund balance for 10 months of operations, which is considered a healthy fund balance.

Town revenue was up 7 percent over last year, mostly due to an increase in grant funding. Expenses increased 5 percent because of debt service and money put into Parham Park.

Brown said ad valorem tax revenue was slightly down since the board decreased the millage rate from 42 cents to 39 cents but the collection rate remained at 95 percent.

Joe Moody with the ABC board also gave a good report for the year for the two liquor stores operating within town limits. While the board finished 2011 with $24,000 in the hole, he said it looked like they would end 2013 with $64,000 in the black. Sales are up 19 percent over last year and the board has been able to make several improvements to the Dellwood and Maggie Valley stores.

Lynn Collins, TDA executive director, gave the new board members a quick overview of the TDA and how the 4 percent occupancy tax is divided up among applicants and municipalities.

The board received six applications for seats on the town’s 1 percent TDA subcommittee and appointed Myra Glover with Maggie Mountain Vacations, Caroline Green with Peppertree Resort, Jan Pressley with Home & Land, Michael Patel with Best Western, Comfort Inn, Microtel, Ramada and Travelowes, and Jay Manner with Maggie Valley Club.

The board also went into a closed session to discuss the town manager contract and acquisition of property, but no decisions were made.

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