Speed Calming, Audit Contract Award Top Issues For April Blowing Rock Town Council Meeting

Speed Calming, Audit Contract Award Top Issues For April Blowing Rock Town Council Meeting
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By David Rogers. April 10, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Holdover issues appear to be the most pressing business for the Blowing Rock Board of Commissioners Tuesday evening.

Blowing Rock News coverage of Blowing Rock Town Government is made possible by a sponsorship from Blowing Rock Medical Park

Officially, radar signs on Valley Blvd. are listed under “New Business” on the April agenda, but in a special presentation during the March Town Council meeting they were one of Police Chief Tony Jones’ top suggestions for slowing traffic down on Valley Blvd.  Jones listed several ways that municipalities work to “calm” traffic last month after stating that writing citations for speed violations is not going to do the trick alone.  Most of the alternatives are not permissible on Valley Blvd. per state or federal regulations, but one of the Chief’s suggestions is to have digital signage showing a driver’s actual speed vs. the posted speed limit.

In a memorandum dated April 4, 2017 and addressed to Town Council, Jones explains the features, benefits, advantages and disadvantages of two different radar sign solutions, from two different manufacturers, Evolis and All Traffic.  The primary differences are the remote programming and download ability of the All Traffic unit that the Evolis product does not have, but those Internet-ready bells and whistles come with a heftier price tag: $5,490 for the All Traffic product vs. what was described as a “package price” of $2,500 for the Evolis solution.

While noting that the All Traffic product’s ability to program the device and collect information immediately from the Police Department (or from any point with Internet connectivity) “…is far more efficient than going to the sign location itself (required by the Evolis solution) and collecting the data…,” Jones’ memo added that the price difference must be considered, as well as the large installed customer base and first hand references received from Evolis users.

A potentially more interesting decision facing the Commissioners also is a holdover from last month: making a choice of the Audit Service provider between two competing bids for performing the services for the next three years.

Combs, Tennant & Carpenter, P.C. has been the Town’s auditor for more than 20 years, but their bid of $23,000 per year is $4,600 more (per year) than the $18,400 bid advanced by Misty D. Watson, CPA, P.A.  Both firms are local, based in Boone, and both have extensive experience in auditing services for municipalities.  Combs, Tennant et all includes among its clients The Town of Boone, Town of Crossnore, AppalCART, the Watauga Board of Education, and the Avery Board of Education.  Watson’s firm includes among its clients Watauga County, the Town of Lansing, Banner Elk TDA, Watauga County TDA, the Town of Beech Mountain, Beech Mountain TDA, Town of Banner Elk, Village of Sugar Mountain, Sugar Mountain TDA, and the Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine.

Certainly there will be other attributes and characteristics that Commissioners will take into consideration, but in the memorandum prepared by Finance Director Nicole Norman and sent to Town Manager Ed Evans, Mayor J.B. Lawrence, and each of the Commissioners (memo is dated April 11), Staff is requesting Town Council to make a choice of the Audit Service provider. Norman’s memo does not suggest a preference, so having known the bidders for more than a month, the Commissioners undoubtedly have had time to do some homework.

The Audit Contract is the only Old Business on the agenda, but New Business also includes a proposal  by Blue Ridge Energy for an Electric Vehicle Charging Station. There is also a proposed amendment to a resolution re: sales tax distribution, and resolutions regarding regulations that prescribe procedures for disposing of surplus town property.

Under Manager’s Report, Town Manager Ed Evans will recognize four employees who have earned certifications; acknowledge the receipt of a final payment ($102,738.35) from FEMA for flooding damage in FY2013-14; report on the sale of equipment; report on the cleanup of the Cone Road gravel yard; and report on the non-occurrence of Farmer’s Market on Park St. this year due to insufficient interest by potential participants, per an earlier Chamber of Commerce statement.

In the Consent Agenda, Town Staff seems to be recommending that the Board of Commissioners adopt a resolution opposing North Carolina House Bill 64 (requires all municipal elections in North Carolina to be held in even-numbered year) and Senate Bill 94 (requiring elections currently conducted on a non-partisan basis to be conducted on a partisan basis).

The Consent Agenda also includes the annexation of 194 Heather Ridge Lane for purpose of connecting to the town sewer, with the public hearing to be scheduled for the May 9, 2017, meeting; and a request to dispose  of surplus equipment.

Editor’s Note: While the surplus equipment and annexation proposal are little more than formalities, it would be interesting to hear the Commissioners’ individual evaluations regarding the proposed House and Senate legislation. Without more information, we question the inclusion of this resolution in the Consent Agenda.

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