05/20/08 — Public a no-show at Goldsboro City Council budget hearing

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Public a no-show at Goldsboro City Council budget hearing

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on May 20, 2008 1:51 PM

The Goldsboro City Council held a public hearing on the recommended $48.2 million 2008-09 budget at its meeting Monday night, and only two people stood up to speak on the subject.

The first was Mary Ann Dudley, the director of the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County. She came to thank the council for the support it has given in the past and continues to give, but she also asked for money in the future.

"We requested money this year, and then we received a nice letter stating we were denied," she said. "We have a wonderful facility... We get support from Mount Olive and Fremont. We don't get financial support from here, and the support from those areas is financial. If you can find any funds for us in the next few years, that would be very helpful in keeping these children off the streets."

Mayor Al King told her the council supported what she was doing and wanted to thank her.

"If we can find you money, we will," he said.

Also speaking to council members was Alan Stubbs, director of GATEWAY.

He came to ask the council for additional funds too, but he wanted them in the 2008-2009 budget.

"There is $200,000 budgeted for this year," he said. "There is federal money out there that we can't get without a local match, and we would hate to give that up. We would like to have another $41,856. We need more routes. There is a lot of the city not covered by the bus system."

The building housing GATEWAY also could use some improvements, he said.

Stubbs added that, most of the time, the public transportation system has to rely on its rural sector -- the money given to GATEWAY by the county -- to keep the urban area going.

"If we want public transportation to grow in Goldsboro, we need to present it a lot better than we have," he said. "We need to go toward New Hope Road, the Central Heights area and around Mission Foods."

Council members didn't take any action to include money for either the Boys and Girls Club or GATEWAY in the proposed budget.

The budget, with a price tag of $2,360,349 more than the 2007-08 budget, includes big ticket items such as debt service and other operating costs for the Paramount Theatre and construction costs for the Community Recreation Center.

The council agreed at a budget work session last Wednesday that it would not increase the current property tax rate for 2008-09. City Manager Joe Huffman had proposed a 5-cent increase earlier this year to balance the budget. The current tax rate is 65 cents per $100 property valuation.

Seven other public hearings were held Monday, three of which were regarding conditional use permits.

One was held on a permit requested by the Family Y and Wayne Montessori School to allow the operation of a child care facility that would serve 45 children in the rear of the building located on the south side of Harding Drive between North Park Drive and New Hope Road. The applicants proposed a 350-square-foot addition to the child care building which will house two bathrooms.

Two people spoke, one against and one in support of allowing the permit.

Eileen Henderson expressed concerns with the children being located so close to high tension wires.

"There have been studies done, showing that within 200 meters of electrical wire, children show signs of leukemia," she said. "I wanted to make sure you had thought about that."

John Richards, Executive Director of the Goldsboro Family Y, said that he wanted to make sure that everyone was clear that they weren't adding a building.

"We are using the current structure. We are just moving the preschool," he said.

Another permit was requested by Jack Thomas for the operation of a restaurant, sports bar and entertainment center on property located on the east side of U.S. 117 South between George Street and Arrington Bridge Road. The location was granted a permit in 2003 for the operation of "Ricky Rat'z," but that establishment has since closed, and is currently being utilized as a restaurant with games. The addition of pool tables and ABC permits, though, will require a new permit.

Both Police Chief Tim Bell and the council were concerned about the parking situation for the establishment. Bell and council members said that allowing patrons to park on U.S. Highway 117 South isn't safe.

Thomas, the owner, requested to have parking available on an unpaved piece of property to the north of the establishment that has a septic tank underneath.

He and the liquor-license-holder N.J. Thomas stood up in support of the permit.

The owner said that patrons could also park in Teasers' parking lot and walk over the recently leveled out ditch in between the two establishments.

"There's plenty of parking now, but it has to be on dirt," Jack Thomas said.

Also held was a public hearing also was held on an amendment to the Demolition by Neglect Ordinance, which helps the city keep buildings in disrepair from being broken into and vandalized. The current ordinance doesn't allow windows to be boarded up, but the proposed ordinance, which would be called the "Architectural and Building Preservation" ordinance, would allow second-story windows to be boarded up indefinitely if they are painted a similar color to the remaining exterior facade and use an acceptable material. If the property isn't maintained, fines may be incurred.

Two people spoke in opposition of the proposed ordinance.

A resident of Virginia Street said that there are "numerous break-ins and numerous thefts" in the downtown area, and that criminal activity would hinder owners from keeping up with properties and avoiding fines.

Downtown business and property owner Jeff Darwin said that he was against the proposed ordinance because he is against boarded-up windows.

"The downtown is looking nice," he said. "Why would we want to board up windows?"