Murphy City Council approves budget, non-partisan elections

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MURPHY, N.C. – At the Monday, June 4, meeting, the Murphy City Council unanimously approved and adopted the city budget for fiscal year 2018-19.

The council began the meeting by opening the floor for a public hearing on the proposed budget. Receiving no public comments regarding the budget, the council, later in the meeting, briefly discussed the proposed budget as prepared by City Manager Chad Simons.

“I’m very impressed in the job you did,” Mayor Rick Ramsey told Simons. “I think we all are. The detail, the openness that you applied to it has been expressed I think by everyone.”

“We did do our best to curtail as much spending as possible,” Simons answered.

Councilman Barry McClure also praised Simons’ efforts saying, “I think Chad has done a phenomenal job … I appreciate his conservativism on the spending and how each line item is written out and you can look at it.”

As for Simons, he took time to thank City Clerk P.J. Siler as well as all the city department heads for their assistance in preparing the budget.

The budget, which will take effect July 1, contains a total of $4,041,610 in expenditures with the same amount in estimated incoming revenues.

The general fund accounts for the majority of the budget at $2,108,355 and the utility fund amount is $1,571,130. Other amounts include $9,800 for the firemen’s relief fund, $56,000 for the Powell Bill fund, and $296,325 for the rural fire district fund.

Appropriations for the general fund break down as follows:

  • Administration – $494,545;
  • Police – $786,100;
  • Fire – $190,500;
  • Streets – $155,900;
  • Sanitation – $138,360;
  • Recreation – $23,000;
  • Library – $195,350;
  • Cemetery – $25,000; and
  • USDA Debt Service – $99,600.

As for the utility fund, appropriations are as follows:

  • Water Filter Plant – $461,075;
  • Utility Maintenance – $604,795; and
  • Wastewater Plant – $505,260.

The council also approved a town charter amendment to change town elections to non-partisan. At the April city council meeting, a resolution was passed to schedule a public hearing for the May meeting. Councilman McClure stated at the initial meeting, the Murphy City Council is one of only eight remaining partisan city councils out of 533 in the state of North Carolina. McClure also stated the majority of registered voters in the town of Murphy are non-partisan (415) as opposed to 392 registered Democrats and 389 registered Republicans.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Ramsey explained the amendment proposal had been publicly advertised for two weeks, upon City Attorney Ronald Cowan’s legal opinion, and opened the floor for discussion.

“I’m going to vote for this amendment for non-partisan because I feel like the state law … is archaic and needed to be changed years ago,” Councilman Frank Dickey stated, “and it discriminates against anybody that’s an independent registered voter … I feel like this is a good step maybe in the right direction to direct other elections.”

As a whole, the council seemed to agree with Dickey’s sentiments and approved the amendment unanimously.

Representatives from the Murphy Business Association were present to speak of the overall success of the Spring Festival, which took place in downtown Murphy last month, and also petition to the council to amend town ordinances to allow open-container alcohol consumption along sidewalks in front of restaurants and within the closed perimeter during such festivals.

Dickey protested that state law prohibits open-container consumption in parking lots and closed streets if those streets are state highways.

“We can pass all the laws you want. It won’t be legal,” Dickey said.

Larry Simons, an attorney speaking on behalf of the business association, cited the town of Belmont, North Carolina, as having a similar downtown festival, also along a state highway, in which open-container consumption coinciding with the festival has been legalized through a local ordinance.

To this, Dickey stated he disagreed with the legality of that town’s festival and also expressed concerns over parking and potential noise disturbances accompanying such future festivals in Murphy.

“As far as having open alcohol on the streets on a regular basis, I don’t think that’s good for Murphy,” Dickey said.

Ultimately, Mayor Ramsey accepted the information presented by the business association and stated he, the council, and the city attorney would review it, take it under advisement and reopen discussion over the issue at a future meeting.

The mayor also took time to congratulate the baseball team coached by Adam Fox and girls track team coached by Penny Johnson at Murphy High School. Each team recently won its respective state championship for its sport.

“So whatever they’re coaching, telling them, feeding them or whatever, there’s something going on good there at the school,” Ramsey stated.

Additionally, Ramsey thanked city and public works employees for their hard work during the recent flooding experienced across the region during the last week of May and first few days of June.

“Our public works team has been working around the clock since the flood,” Ramsey explained. “They’ve been working four hours on, four hours off.”

The mayor also added, as of the meeting, workers were still having to access the wastewater treatment plant by boat through the Hiwassee River because the road to the plant was still under water. Ramsey stated the city had difficulties with several automated lift stations within the town’s sewer system during the flood.

“Thank them please, when you see them. You don’t have to know them, but if it says ‘Public Works Town of Murphy’ on the side of the truck, it’s either stolen or they do work for the town of Murphy,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey also reminded the council and all others present for the meeting that the deadline for being added to the public commentary list for council meetings is noon on the day of the meeting and arrangements to speak in public commentary could be made with City Manager Chad Simons.

“That’s the way that anyone can make public comments to us. We encourage public comments. We need to hear what people are thinking,” Ramsey stressed.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

Council rezones property, Mack wins logo contest

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[Featured image: A prototype drawing of the winning logo in the Town of Murphy Logo Contest created by artist and local resident Justin Mack.]

MURPHY, N.C. – The Monday, May 7, Murphy City Council meeting saw the council rezone property on the Hiwassee River and announce the winner of the City Logo Contest.

A public hearing on the rezoning of four parcels located on the Hiwassee River between Petrie Street and U.S. Hwy. 64 kicked off the meeting. The rezoning proposal of the parcels, owned by Charlene M. Smith, Noland Smith, William H. McKeever, William H. Forsyth Jr., Marion Forsyth, would rezone the property from R-2 Residential to H-B Highway Business.

When asked by a citizen of the reasoning behind the rezoning and the potential tax implications, Councilman Frank Dickey provided an explanation, saying the move updates the zoning in the city.

“The property owners requested it. The natural growth since the four-lane came through has been in that area. It’s not conducive for R-2 Residential,” Dickey stated. “Taxes will probably be the same, and hopefully, they’ll triple … We reviewed it and recommended it and passed it on to the board for this public hearing.”

Of the rezoning, Mayor Rick Ramsey stated, “It gives the town of Murphy (an opportunity) for that property being productively used in a way that current zoning would not really afford us as a town.”

Later in the meeting, the council approved the rezoning with Councilman Noland Smith, being one of the property owners, recusing himself from the vote.

The council also held a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the town charter to consider non-partisan council elections.

Melody Johnson, a resident, spoke in favor of the proposed change stating she felt a non-partisan election would attract more voters. “I don’t want to vote for the party; I want to vote for the person,” Johnson said.

City Attorney Ronald Cowan explained the council could vote to approve the amendment at its next meeting after publicly advertising the proposed change. That approval would change the elections to non-partisan without the need of a referendum. However, Cowan added if 10 percent of the city’s registered voters petitioned to have the issue presented as a referendum in an upcoming election, the referendum would have to pass before any changes could be made to the current election format.

The six finalist designs in the Town of Murphy Logo Contest.

Ramsey announced the winner and the winning design of the recent Town of Murphy Logo Contest. The mayor told of the success of the contest and a participation celebration held Thursday, May 3, which featured attendees U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows and state Representative Kevin Corbin. According to Ramsey, there were 42 entries in the contest that were narrowed down to six finalists by city employees. From those six, residents had the opportunity to cast their vote and there were 572 total votes.

Turning the presentation over to Councilwomen Karen Watson and Gail Stansell, an enlarged copy of the winning design was unveiled from underneath a black cloth revealing a colorful sketch from Justin Mack to be the winner. The circular design features the words “Murphy North Carolina” at the top and “The City of Flowers” at the bottom of the logo along with “Est. 1851” flanking the center on the left and right of the logo, respectively. In the center inset, a mix of warm and cool colors portrays a sunset scene with the mountains to the west of the city in the background, a shadowy skyline view of downtown Murphy with the prominent courthouse dome in the middle ground, and a colorful array of flowers in the immediate foreground.

Artist Justin Mack stands beside his winning design for the Town of Murphy Logo Contest.

“It was a great competition and the art was very competitive. Congratulations, sir. You were up against the best,” Mayor Ramsey told Mack, who was in attendance for the unveiling.

Described as a “forever-more brand” of Murphy by Ramsey, the design will be adopted as the city’s official logo. In addition to the honor, Mack received a cash award of $100 for his winning design.

In other business, the council approved a $4,500 budget request from the Cherokee County Arts Council for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The council announced a public hearing will take place Monday, June 4, at 5 p.m. during its regular meeting to address the proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget. Following this, the budget is expected to be adopted at the meeting.

Councilwoman Barbara Hughes announced the city will have a Fourth of July parade this year. The route, according to Hughes, will start at the historic L & N Depot and will commence to Konahetta Park. Hughes stated the city is still in need of volunteers to help organize the event.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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