Inn on Cornish – Downtown Hotel in Blowing Rock

 

George and I met with Jan and John Winkler this afternoon to discuss a wonderful addition to our village.  A boutique hotel.  !! There is a town hall meeting with the Winkler’s  Oct. 26, 2017 at 5:30.  Go to our website brcivic.com and let the pictures scroll through for the visuals on this project.  George and I are very excited about their proposal and I think you will be also.  The Winklers plan to own and run this beautiful boutique hotel.  And I hope you will make the meeting tomorrow evening.  And for what we understand we whole heartedly support this effort and hope the town council will also.

Many thanks,

 

Betsy and George Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

EARLY VOTING – MUNICIPAL ELECTION – NOVEMBER 7, 2107

EARLY VOTING – GO TO BOONE NOW AND VOTE FOR YOUR BLOWING ROCK CANDIDATES !!!

8:00 am til 5:00pm Monday through Friday this week and next week.  (October 23rd through November 3rd)

 

ONE SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4TH FROM 8:00am til 1:00pm

 

WHERE ??  COURTHOUSE AT 842 W. KING STREET.  RESERVED PARKING OUT FRONT FOR VOTERS.

 

Betsy Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Reminder – 2017 Watauga Voting Calendar

 

I have had several people ask about the timing of voting, so I wanted to give you a reminder of the voting calendar.  Blowing Rock Civic Association promotes NO candidate.   WE DO PROMOTE  VOTE !!

October 8 Absentee by mail voting begins

 

October 31 – Last day to request an absentee ballot by mail

 

November 4 – One stop early voting ends at 1:00pm

 

November 7 – Election Day, polls open 6:30am til 7:30pm.  If in Blowing Rock, you vote at the town hall.

 

And all absentee ballots need to arrive no later than a day before November 7, 2017

 

Many thanks,

 

Betsy Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Blowing Rock Candidates Roundtable Sponsored by BRCA and Blowing Rock News – A brief synopsis

 

Friends – The subject event directed by BRCA Board member Karyn Herterich was very well attended and excellent. Karyn, BRCA member Judge Bob Burroughs and Blowing Rock News Editor David Rogers put a lot of very effective hard work into this program to make it an outstanding success. The film of last night’s program is available now on our website www.brcivic.com. The following are some highlights from the program:1. When questioned about the Town’s 32.1% increase in property taxes and 23.9% increase in water and sewer fees, and more than 70% increase in general budget expenses over the past four years Council Candidate Doug Matheson said tax increases were necessary to repair badly worn Town infrastructure that had been neglected over a number of years. Mayoral Candidate Charlie Sellers said the Town needs to do a better job of controlling expenses. He also said that the Town must focus capital expenditures on the substantial needed repairs of roads, streets, sidewalks, water and sewer system problems and not be distracted by requested spending on lower priority optional projects.
2. When asked about the proposed Sunset Drive streetscape project Council Candidate Virginia Powell said she wants Blowing Rock to retain its unique village charm by using unobtrusive signage like that used by European villages. Mayoral Candidate Lawrence said he wants an entrance at Sunset and Highway 321 that will have a WOW!! effect on those passing by. Candidate Sellers said he favors doing needed street, sidewalk and water and sewer system repairs and attractive signage on Sunset. Sellers does not favor additional expensive cosmetic work on Sunset Drive that is being discussed. Candidate Matheson said he thinks that work that will be done by the NCDOT will minimize the need for Town expenses at the intersection of Sunset and Highway 321. Sellers said he liked the work that Virginia Tech did at no cost to the Town on the American Legion Building surrounding area. He said the Town should seek this kind of help with Sunset Drive and other Town areas. He also said Blowing Rock has many talented residents who can be consulted and used on Town projects and needs without expense to the Town.
3. In response to a question about downtown parking problems on busy weekends Candidate Lawrence who has served as Mayor for twenty years said parking problems are good problems to have. He said more parking places will be eliminated on Highway 221 when the sidewalk to Bass Lake is done. He said a parking building on Maple Street might be considered. Candidates Sellers and Sweeting agreed that severe parking problems exist downtown on busy weekends. Sellers suggested joint ventures with Rumple Presbyterian church and First Baptist Church on parking buildings.
4. In response to a question about a proposed new automated water meter system Candidate Pickett said he thinks it will be helpful to property owners in discovery of water leaks. Candidates Matheson and Sellers said they are opposed to forcing property owners to buy a new water meter.
5. In response to a question about changes you would make if elected Candidates Lawrence and Pickett had no changes to suggest. Candidate Matheson said he would put a shuttle service in effect on busy weekends. Candidate Sellers said we must develop a vision to take Blowing Rock to the next level using the great talents of our citizens. Candidate Sweeting says she will propose a memorial tree program for the Town.
6. All candidates now favor using a professional arborist to direct tree maintenance and planting activity in Memorial Park. No one explained why many recommendations over the years from BRAAC and others to use an arborist had been ignored leading to current serious tree problems in the park.

 

These are my impressions of some of the discussion at last night’s meeting. For more information and for far more accurate detail please take a look at the film of the meeting at brcivic.com

 

Best regards,

George

Major Items from Blowing Rock Council Meeting Last Night

Wednesday October 11, 2017

 

Friends – The following are important matters covered by the Blowing Rock Town Council at last night’s meeting:

1. There is reason to believe that at long last Blowing Rock will be the location for a county emergency ambulance and crew, at least part time. Watauga County Commission Chairman John Welch was present for the meeting to verify that this issue will be decided at the county commission meeting in Boone next Tuesday evening 10/17/2017. Meeting starts at 5:30 P.M. at Commissioners Board Room at 814 W. King St. in Boone.
2. An excellent plan by Virginia Tech for development of grounds adjacent to the American Legion Building was adopted by the council in order to initiate the process of obtaining grants to fund recommended improvements including establishing an attractive pedestrian walk on Park Avenue.
3. An excellent top of the line landscaping plan was presented by experts from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for Valley Blvd. (the widened highway 321 through Blowing Rock). This plan, designated by the NCDOT as their Landmark Plan, was approved by the council. Work on this plan will begin immediately.Estimated completion date for the landscaping is early 2019. The town will take over maintenance responsibility for the landscaping in 2020 at an estimated cost of $ 2500 to $ 3000/month. The NCDOT will bear all expenses of the landscaping done and a year of maintenance before turning it over to the town.

 

Please be sure to attend Thursday night’s community meeting with candidates for Blowing Rock mayor and council starting at 5:30 P.M. at the American Legion Building 333 Wallingford St. in downtown.

 

Best regards,

George Wilcox

 

Blowing Rock Civic Association

The Town Government of Blowing Rock Needs to Keep Citizens Informed

 

 

September 6, 2017

 

 

 

Mayor J. B. Lawrence

Mayor Pro Tem Albert Yount

Council Members – Doug Matheson, Ray Pickett, Jim Steele, and Sue Sweeting

Town Manager Ed Evans

Town of Blowing Rock

1036 Main Street

P. O. Box 47

Blowing Rock, N. C. 28605

 

Subject: Informing Citizens on Issues Addressed by Town Government

 

Dear Lady and Gentlemen:

 

Thank you for your service to Blowing Rock. The Blowing Rock Civic Association is committed to the idea that the best Town decisions are made when issues have been thoroughly considered by all citizens who have had ample time and opportunity to consider and express themselves on these issues. I am writing on behalf of our board of directors. We think the following steps are necessary to appropriately inform our citizens and to involve them in the decision-making process:

1.       Agendas for all monthly council meetings should be posted with the media and on the town website no later than one week before the meeting, for example by 5:00 P.M. on the Tuesday preceding the Tuesday council meeting.

2.       Any special council meeting and the agenda for this meeting should be announced to the media and on the town website no later than one week in advance of the meeting.

3.       Minutes from each council meeting should be posted on the town website no later than 48 hours after the conclusion of the meeting. Town council meeting minutes have been extremely late thereby depriving citizens of information necessary for their timely response to issues that impact them. For example the latest minutes posted on the town website for a council meeting are for the 7/11/2017 meeting. As you know there have been three council meetings since that meeting two months ago.

4.       More use should be made of the Planning Board for advice on issues prior to when the council makes decisions. An excellent example was the August 17, 2017 meeting of the Blowing Rock Planning Board ably chaired by David Harwood. The Board, addressing a controversial request for short term rental approval for a project on Ransom Street, gave every citizen as well as board members an opportunity to speak on this matter. Very useful comments were made. At the conclusion of all remarks the board arrived at an informed, reasonable decision. Minutes of this meeting were promptly posted on the town website. A very valuable recommendation was submitted for council action. BRAAC and other groups should also be consulted more on pertinent issues before council decisions are made.

5.       Speakers from the public should be recognized at the start of each meeting instead of at the end. This will give citizens the opportunity to express themselves on issues before council actions are taken.

6.       Board retreats should be held in Blowing Rock in order to give citizens and media a true opportunity to attend these events.

7.       In view of the significant increases in Town expenditures, property taxes, and water and sewer fees in recent years we strongly recommend that a financial report be given by the town staff at each council meeting on expenditures to date, revenues to date, and performance compared to budget, including fiscal year end projections. A written summary of this presentation should be distributed to the public at each council meeting.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

George T. Wilcox

President

 

CC: editor@blowingrocknews.com ; editor@blowingrocket.com ; ken@highcountrypress.com ; jesse@highcountrypress.com

 

 

 

 

Town of Blowing rock Spending and Property Taxes Exploding

Wilcpen (wilcpen@aol.com)To:you Details
Sent: Monday, August 7, 2017 4:09 PM

 

Friends – The Town of Blowing Rock over the past four years has been spending at an unprecedented rate. Town property taxes have increased by 32.1%!!! over the past four years. Town basic water and sewer rates have increase by 23.9%!!! over the past four years. An additional 16.2%!!! in property tax increases and more water and sewer rate increases are planned by the Town over the next four years for bond related expenditures alone. Blowing Rock population and property tax values have remained basically unchanged during the last four years. The cost of living has increased by less than 5% over the past four years. THESE TAX INCREASES ARE FORCING AND WILL FORCE HOMEOWNERS OF LIMITED MEANS OUT OF BLOWING ROCK. STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT TAX INCREASES DEPRESS PROPERTY VALUES AS LOCATING OUTSIDE TOWN LIMITS BECOMES A BETTER ECONOMIC DECISION. THE TOWN GOVERNMENT CURRENTLY APPEARS TO BE MUCH MORE FOCUSED ON TOURISM THAN ON HOMEOWNERS WHO PAY 83% OF THE TOWN PROPERTY TAXES.

1. The Town plans to add $ 3,700,000 in bond debt this year. The Town has previously issued $ 4,630,000 in bonds.
2. General Budget Town expenditures ( expenses other than bond expenditures) will increase by $ 1,560,278 this year, a 16.85%!!! increase over last year.
3. The Town General Budget (expenses other than bond expenditures) has increased by $ 4,505,074 in four years, a 71.33% !!! increase.
4. Town Personnel expenditures have increased by $ 2,244,000 in four years, a 100.9% !!! increase.
5. Town Debt Service has increased by $ 373,000/yr., 27.6%!!!, over the past four years.
6. Town budget increases and tax increases for debt service are locked in for many years after all authorized bond money is borrowed and spent. So even after all bond money has been spent Town budgets will be high due to debt service.
7. Blowing Rock’s high property tax values will not be reviewed for adjustments until 2022. Market values of many homes have not increased from recession lows. Some properties have higher tax values than market values.
8. The Town’s outside engineering firm McGill identified over $ 30,000,000 of infrastructure needs in the Town before the 2014 bond issues were approved. To date despite the town’s having spent millions of dollars of bond money much of Green Hill Road from Highway 321 to the Parkway is still breaking up. Other town streets have similar problems. Meantime the Town has spent considerable time and taxpayers’ money ineffectively focusing on beautification of Sunset Drive.Town time has also been spent on a Public Art Policy that asks the Town to contribute significant taxpayers’ money to art and a theater project at the vacant Old Fire Station that apparently will require substantial taxpayers’ money. THE PUBLIC ART POLICY IS ON TOMORROW NIGHT’S TOWN COUNCIL AGENDA. MEETING STARTS AT 6:00 P.M. AT TOWN HALL. Obviously the arts and beautification are very important to Blowing Rock and Blowing Rock residents, full time and seasonal,  who are uniquely generous in supporting these efforts with time and money. Considering, however, the stress on local taxpayers, focusing on the identified infrastructure needs of the community would appear to require that those needs be THE TOP TOWN PRIORITY.

If you have concerns about any of these matters you can express these concerns by emailing:
Mayor J.B. Lawrence                                 jb.lawrence.br@me.com
Council Member Doug Matheson              dtheboss@bellsouth.net
Council Member Ray Pickett                     raybrinn@gmail.com
Council Member Jim Steele                      jfsteele88@att.net
Council Member Sue Sweeting                 sweetingsue75@yahoo.com
Council Member Albert Yount                   albertyount@gmail.com

Best regards,

George Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

Tax Increases in the Town of Blowing Rock

Wilcpen (wilcpen@aol.com)To:you Details
Financials of Blowing Rock Pas…pdf (237 KB)

 

 

To Friends and Members of Blowing Rock Civic Association

Blowing Rock Civic Association has added over 200 members in just the 2 months of June and July, 2017.  Thanks to all of you who understand our mission to Protect and Enhance life in Blowing Rock.
We have just updated our website.  So visit us at brcivic.com.  Enjoy the roving pictures of Blowing Rock and the news and events.  Note the membership tab.  We hope you will become a member.

 

Did you get your tax bill?  Was the combined increase for the Town of Blowing Rock and Watauga County 22%?  Mine was 21.5%  DO YOU THINK THIS PERCENT IS SUSTAINABLE?

 

The property tax increase of 21.5% increase in just one year along with the increased spending in the Town of Blowing Rock over the past 4 years shows an alarming trend (This chart is attached)  This is very burdensome on lower income families who know and love Blowing Rock and want to live in Blowing Rock.  Plus any tax increase that can be passed on makes everything more expensive for homeowners, renters, tourist, and businesses.  Probably no business will take a tax increase without trying to revamp their costs.  So all products go up also.  Tax increases spirals on every level.

 

If you are concerned,  email your mayor and elected council members as well as the chair of Watauga County and their elected commissioners.

 

The Town of Blowing Rock

 

Mayor – J. B. Lawrence   jb.lawrence.br@me.com

Mayor Pro Tem – Albert Yount  albertyount@gmail.com
Jim Steele – jfsteele88@att.net
Doug Matheson – dtheboss@bellsouth.net  – Up for reelection 2017
Ray Pickett – raybrinn@gmail.com – Up for reelection 2017
Sue Sweeting – sweetingsue75@yahoo.com – Up for reelection 2017

 

Watauga County Commissioners

 

Chair – John Welch  John.Welch@watgov.org
Vice Chair – Billy Kennedy  Billy.Kennedy@watgov.org
Jimmy Hodges – Jimmy.Hodges@watgov.org
Larry Turnbow – Larry.Turnbow@watgov.org
Perry Yates – Perry.Yates@watgov.org

 

ALSO REMEMBER YOUR VOTE COUNTS

 

Betsy Wilcox
Blowing Rock Civic Association

The Town of Blowing Rock Financial Facts and Trends

JULY 21, 2017

 

IMPORTANT FINANCIAL FACTS AND TRENDS FOR THE TOWN OF BLOWING ROCK, N.C. OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS TAKEN FROM BUDGET REPORTS BY THE TOWN AND OTHER SOURCES

 

FINANCIAL FACTOR                                          6/30/2013*                     7/1/2017                     % CHANGE

 

TOWN POPULATION                                             1232                                1241                                + 0.7%

 

PROPERTY TAX BASE                                         $ 1.123 BILLION              $ 1.129 BILLION              + 0.5%

 

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX                                     233.596                          244.524                         + 4.68%

 

ANNUAL BUDGET                                              $ 4.702 MILLION            $ 14.521 MILLION        + 256.8%

(ACTUAL)                         (ADOPTED)

 

 

PERSONNEL EXPENDITURES                            $ 2.222 MILLION            $ 4.466 MILLION          + 100.9%

(ACTUAL)                         (ADOPTED)

 

BASIC WATER RATE                                             $ 35.50                            $ 44.00                          + 23.9%

(5000 GALLONS)

RATE FOR EXCESS PER 1000 GAL.                       $ 4.75                              $ 5.75                          + 21.1%

 

BASIC SEWER RATE                                             $ 35.50                            $ 44.00                          + 23.9%

(5000 GALLONS)

RATE FOR EXCESS PER 1000 GAL.                       $ 4.75                              $ 5.75                          + 21.1%%

PROPERTY TAX RATE                                         $ 28 CENTS/$100          $ 37 CENTS/$100          + 32.1%

 

*TOWN FISCAL YEAR ENDED 6/30/2013