2012 Burlington City Council Retreat
February 3, 2012
John Robert Kernodle Senior Center
Harold Owen opens the meeting with introductions and a brief overview of the day's topics.
1. Utility Service and Future Growth Policies
Presented by WSSU Assistant Professor of Geography Dr. Russ Smith, Planning Director Bob Harkrader and Water Resources Director Bob Patterson
o For the past 50 years, North Carolina policy has allowed for urban properties to at some point become municipal. As a result, cities have invested substantially in infrastructure (water and sewer lines) for urban areas outside of corporate limits.
o Recently the state legislature has put an end to that policy, allowing for a 60% petition of property owners in an area eligible for annexation to block the annexation. This necessitates municipality reevaluation of how to handle utility service expansion.
o Council can provide some direction to staff as it relates to the extension of utility as requests are received.
o Previously, petitions for annexation were required before utility services were extended. Some of these petitions may no longer be valid due to the court ruling in the case of Cunningham vs. City of Greensboro rendering these petitions invalid once property has changed hands.
o Who should be able to obtain utility service? Is the service a public commodity, a municipal function, or something in between?
o Should utility extension remained linked to annexation? Is all growth good? Should a tiered system of annexation be implemented?
o Three scenarios could guide future policies in relation to utility service and development:
1. Limited Municipal Expansion- as property owners request services, an annexation petition is required to be submitted.
2. Aggressive Utility Provision- divorce the provision of utilities from the need to annex. Utility service will be provided to all paying customers.
3. Managed Municipal Growth- Link service delivery to annexation based on a classification system.
o By Council’s selection of a scenario, a staff driven policy can be crafted so that future request for utility service won’t have to appear before Council.
2. Economic Incentives Policy
Presented by City Manager Harold Owen and Interim City Attorney Charles Bateman
o Our City is facing a reevaluation in 2016 and a possibility of a shrinking of the tax base.
o Government finance is made up of tax base and tax rate. A City must either grow tax base through development or increase tax rate to sustain.
o Having an inventory of sites ready for prospective developers to view during the site selection process is of vital importance.
o What should thresholds for incentives be?
o Should we incentivize new and existing industries?
o Do we create different levels of incentives for targeted areas or targeted industries?
o The City has a large availability of water and a large capacity for sewer processing, should be target high utility consuming industries? Can we target incentives toward reuse of existing facilities?
o Job creation is an integral part of any industrial incentive.
o Should wage level requirements be implemented?
o The level of assistance provided by incentives should be reflective of the per cent tax yield gained by the City.
o Job based incentives do little for tax base growth. Higher paid jobs are more valuable to the City. Should we differentiate levels of incentives to reflect the level of jobs that are created?
o Redevelopment grants can work in tandem with economic incentives for new industry.
o Staff needs to be able to provide prospective developers with a letter granting some assurance that Council will later approve the incentives at a public hearing.
o These proposals are somewhat of an extension of the small downtown grants already in existence.
o The City Attorney will put these recommendations into the form of a policy to bring before Council for approval.
3. Transit Service Alternatives
Presented by Transportation Planning Manager for the Burlington Urban Area MPO, Mike Nunn
o Federal funding sources are provided to MPOs for transportation. The City of Burlington is the lead agency for the urban area and therefore would be entitled to federal transportation dollars if they were to enter into the provision of public transportation.
o Multiple options exist for the City of Burlington to utilize federal transportation dollars in the provision of public transportation.
1. City Fixed Route System
2. Coordinate with Elon or ACTA
3. Coordinate with PART or RDU area transit
o A standard start for a fixed route system would include busses arriving hourly, 4 routes, and a hub/transfer station.
o FTA urbanized area formula program (section 5307) grant 80% planning and capital costs after start up Covers 50% of net operating deficit Allocated $1,640,390 in 2012; the amount is based on urban area density.
o For a weekday, fixed route system running for 12 hours per day, the cost to operate would be approximately $65. This amount includes a contract for paratransit but does not include fuel costs.
o 90% of start-up capital costs will be supplied by the federal government and will require a 10% match.
o Start-Up costs to include: vehicles, signs/shelters, planning, and marketing will total approximately $2,100,000
o !0% local match could be made up of money raised through a $5.00 local vehicle registration fee and/or corporate sponsorship.
o The estimated total operating cost for year one of a fixed-route transit system in $900,000.
o A fixed route system will keep buses on major roads going to major destinations. The buses will not serve neighborhoods or individual homes.
o Cooperation with Elon's bio bus is an unexplored option.
o Cooperation with ACTA to expand their service and their system would add an urban element to their rural system creating access to federal transportation dollars.
o Bringing other municipal partners into our system is an option. Agency investment would be broken down by road miles of cooperating entities but Burlington would be the lead agency.
o A transit advisory board of elected officials should be established to make detailed decisions regarding the operation of the transportation system.
4. Fire Services Study
Presented by Fire Chief Jay Smith
o Data analysis was provided by a Public Safety Excellence study that concluded in June 2011.
o Conclusions reached from that study are that areas in north central and south west Burlington have a need for additional fire resources.
o Currently 5 fire stations respond to 5 fire districts within the City.
o Two options to address service needs are:
1.) Close station 4 and relocate to an area in the north central portion of the city and build an additional station in the southwest area of the city.
2.) Up fit station 4 to prolong productivity and proceed to build station 6.
o Multiple criterions will be considered for site selection in one or both stations. Road access, traffic patterns, call history, lot size and topography, and availability of land will all be taken into consideration when selecting a new site.
o Additional capital costs include purchase of two fire trucks and land acquisition and preparations.
o Estimated increase of annual operation costs $911,100 which includes maintaining additional staff, facilities, and vehicles.
o New capital cost Option 1 is $5.6 million plus land acquisition and prep for two parcels.
o Option 2 capital costs is $3.65 million plus land acquisition and prep on one parcel of land and unknown renovations to keep station 4 in operation.
o Staffing one new station would require 21 people. 15 of which would be new hires. Six staff members will be moved from station 4 to aid in staffing station 6.