The Transylvania Times -

By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

Council Votes To Not Accept $9 Million Loan - Brevard NC


Brevard City Council voted unanimously Monday not to accept the nearly $9 million no-interest loan from the state to renovate the city’s wastewater plant.

As previously reported, the city’s Public Works and Utilities Committee, which includes two council members, staff and one member of the public, made the recommendation to the full council not to accept the loan.

On Monday, Jim Fatland, who was named the city’s full-time manager later in the council’s meeting (see related story above), said when he was hired as interim manager in April he was told to evaluate the loan.

Since he became interim manager, Fatland helped establish four new city committees, including public works and utilities, which has held three meetings since its formation.

Fatland said the committee’s consensus was to spend more time on improving operations and maintenance at the wastewater plant and the water plant, and continue working on the pretreatment agreement with Oskar Blues Brewery and the settlement agreement, because of permit violations, with the state.

Fatland suggested the plan is to address these issues before making long-term capital decisions.

The other recommendation from the committee, which was approved by council, was to make $125,000 in improvements to the water plant and $300,000 in improvements to the sewer plant.

The money will come from the city’s Capital Reserve Fund.

Mayor Jimmy Harris said he was “convinced” and “satisfied” the committee has “vetted” the plant’s operations and changed some of the procedures.

Harris said the city has a “very healthy wastewater treatment facility.”

He believes the facility is “getting better all the time” and that he can look “residents in the eye and tell them (the city) got another opinion.”

“The debt (if the city accepted the loan) was a real consideration,” Harris said.

The other opinion, Harris mentioned, was in response to one given by CDM Smith, a consulting, engineering, construction and operations firm. CDM had been contracted with the city for roughly $148,000 to study the wastewater plant.

CDM had recommended accepting the loan and changing the method of treating the wastewater at the plant.

In other action at Monday’s meeting:

• Council tabled taking action on a resolution to add the Assault on the Carolinas cycling event to the list of special events that are recognized and sanctioned by the city, such as the White Squirrel Festival and the July 4th celebration.

Councilmen Maurice Jones and Mac Morrow thought such a decision should be tabled until next March and the beginning of the budget process. A motion to do so, however, failed.

Council members Wes Dickson and Ann Hollingsworth initially favored the city receiving the special recognition and some funding support.

They noted the economic and other benefits the Assault has had on the community.

The council eventually unanimously voted to table action and receive more information at its September meeting.

• During the meeting’s public participation, Pat Pettit raised concerns about vacation rentals in the city. Pettit, who rents out properties in the city, said the residential neighborhood where one of her properties is located is becoming more like a “hotel neighborhood.”

The vacation rentals, she said, are rented out for less than 30 days and are occupied by “transients who don’t care about traffic and noise.”

Pettit’s tenants have contacted her complaining, she said. Pettit questioned whether those renting out these “vacation homes” are collecting occupancy or sales taxes.

She said these vacation rentals also negatively impact local hotels and motels.

Pettit said she was close to losing a tenant. Pettit said the city of Asheville has a 30-day minimum on rentals.

Councilman Charlie Landreth later asked city staff to bring back a report on vacation rentals within the city.

On a different matter, Chris Barila spoke to council about people leaving animals in hot vehicles. She wants the city, particularly the police department, to enforce state laws and asked the council to pass a local law banning unattended animals in vehicles during extreme heat and to define it as animal abuse.

Finally, Colton Overcash introduced himself as the Western North Carolina representative for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis’ office.

• Council appointed Demi Loftis to a second term and Keenan Smith to a first term on the city’s Planning Board. Council also appointed Susan Threlkel and Dee Dee Perkins to the city’s Downtown Master Plan Committee.

• Annette Raines, the county’s tax collector, gave her annual tax settlement report. Raines reported her office had collected roughly 99.8 percent of taxes owed.

The tax levy for the city was roughly $4.1 million. As of June 30, the uncollected amount was about $4,800.

• Tracey Love and LeRoy Cowan were given certificates of appreciation for their service to the city’s ABC Board. Love served 10 years and Cowan served three years.

• Mayor Harris read a proclamation recognizing Constitution Week (Sept. 17-23).


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