Mayor Harold Weinbrecht publishes his weekly blog post on his personal blog (mayorweinbrecht.com), sharing his thoughts and updates on local news and events in Cary, NC. The Cary Report, with permission from the town, will be re-publishing the Mayor’s blog as they are posted each Sunday. The following is the latest from Mayor Harold Weinbrecht.
Town Manager One-On-One
Monday I met with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. Topics included the upcoming quarter meeting, the budget, sports venues, and the DEI task force.
Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships Board Meeting
Monday night I met with the board for the Atlantic Tire Tennis Championships. We mostly talked about this year’s tournament and sponsors. We also found out that we will be holding an additional ATP 75 tournament this year starting the week of August 7th. As Cary continues to improve the Cary Tennis Park, we will get more and more opportunities to hold events. Even if you don’t like tennis, the economic benefits help all of us.
Cary Senior Housing Symposium
Tuesday I gave welcoming remarks at the Cary Senior Housing Symposium. Here is an excerpt from remarks that I spoke from:
“…I am honored to be here with all of you today as we discuss such an important topic – providing affordable and accessible housing for our seniors. Also joining us from the Cary Council is Lori Bush.
Our latest census data shows that Cary’s senior population is growing. In fact, out of the top 14 municipalities we are the oldest. It is essential that we find and provide the support that our seniors need, including a diverse range of housing options, to ensure those who love Cary can stay in Cary, in a safe and comfortable place.
I’m glad that this is the topic for today’s event and that you all are here to listen, give input, and share what you learn with others while we tackle this issue as partners. …
Events like today would not be possible without our community partners. Ensuring the aging population is cared for and can thrive in Cary cannot be achieved by only one organization. I encourage you to meet others today, learn about their expertise areas, and look for ways to collaborate on strategies. …”
It will take all of us working together to make a difference in the affordable housing crisis.
Tuesday afternoon I met with a potential candidate for Cary Town Council. My practice is that I endorse incumbents but will talk with and help everyone that is interested.
Honor a Teacher
Tuesday night I joined Mayor Pro-Tem Frantz and council member Eades at Prestonwood for the Cary Chamber Honor a Teacher Program. This program originated in 1991 with the Discovery Award by the Ashworth Family and shortly followed with the Clara Knoll Excellence in Teaching Award by Barry & DJ Mitsch. This program has since grown to awarding over 30 teachers representing Cary Area Schools. The teachers are nominated by parents, colleagues, administration, and the business community leading to five final nominees per school. After the nominations are complete, the representing sponsor has the option to participate in the selection process and/or present the award directly to the teacher at the ceremony on May 9th. I, along with my colleagues from council, awarded a Civic Education Award to a Green Hope Elementary teacher and an Excellence in Teaching Award to a Wake STEM Early College High School teacher. Congratulations to our winners and all the teachers for their dedication and commitment to changing lives and building the future generation.
Senior Appreciation Day at Cary Tennis Park
Wednesday I participated in a Senior Appreciation Day event at Cary Tennis Park. I provided remarks, read a proclamation, and played an exhibition with Sean Ferreira (the Director of Tennis) along with two players chosen from the attendees. It is important to know that the latest research by the Physical Activity Council shows that more than 23.6 million Americans played tennis in 2022. This is a 33% increase in participation from 2019 and is the highest number of players since the study began. I have played tennis for almost 50 years and credit it for my physical and mental health. I would encourage all citizens to take up this lifetime sport.
MPO Executive Board Commuter Rail Subcommittee Meeting
Thursday morning I attended a meeting of combined MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations) from Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and the Capital Area as part of a subcommittee on Commuter Rail. A loan consultant presented funding options to do phase 1 of commuter rail without federal funding since no federal funding was available. According to research, it would cost $1.6 billion to go from Garner to a little past RTP. The consultants recommended RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing). The group instead decided to focus on BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) since federal funding was available for that option. In addition, while BRT is being established, infrastructure on rail lines, such as grade separated crossings, could occur. These infrastructure projects could also receive federal funding. This was a big pivot from what the committee was established for but is probably the best use of resources and funding and will accomplish a goal of providing transit options.
Council Quarterly Meeting
Thursday the council met half a day for its first quarterly meeting of 2023. Topics included Capital and Community Projects, a Development Update, an Environmental Update, a Financial Update with the Proposed FY24 Budget, and Potential Ordinances for Public Safety and Quality of Life. The following are some of my notes.
Capital and Community Projects
Multi-Generational Community Centers
Cary Tennis Park Clubhouse Expansion
USA Baseball Indoor Training
- Higgins Greenway Phase 3 is close to bid. Construction will begin in the fall and will take approximately 12 months.
- Higgins Greenway Phase 4 will pick up where phase 3 ends and take it to the downtown park. This will be a 12-foot path that includes a bike path that is separated from the road and pedestrians.
- There will be a new crossing at Kay Struffolino Park.
- Several downtown roads will have a significant water main, sewer, sidewalk, pavement replacement over the next few years to prevent potential breaks. Projects include Harrison from Chatham to Heater, Byrum, Park, Page, and S. West.
- Meridian on Chatham will have road extended to Cedar and major sewer line replacement. The project includes retail, parking, and residential.
- PRCR master plan is being updated and will include a public survey, existing system analysis, needs assessment, and community workshops.
- The town is planning two multi-generational community centers at Mills Park and South Hills. Next steps include completing base programs for the centers, floor plans, and finalizing budget costs.
- Walnut Creek Greenway will be from the downtown park to Fenton and then to South Hills which is about 3 miles. Cary already owns 2 of those 3 miles.
- Cary Tennis Park will see expansion of clubhouse and courts to meet community need and to position for higher ranked professional tournaments. Pickleball will be part of the expansion to include 20 to 32 courts. There is also a parking deck proposed.
- Connectivity Improvements are being made with the Crabtree Creek Greenway, Black Creek Greenway, and the Pedestrian Bridge for Black Creek Greenway.
- USA Baseball expansion will have a 22,000 square foot indoor facility. It is about 75% done and will be completed this year.
- Only 1 out of 29 rezoning proposals were approved last quarter.
- 39 site plans were approved.
- There are 56 permits for active development this quarter.
- Future projects include Duke Health hospital with 500 beds, office, and multi-family.
- A GoCary Bus Maintenance facility will be built for $37.7 million funded by Wake grants.
- South Hills will have plans submitted soon.
- The Crossroads Area is showing interest in redevelopment.
- Weston Parkway owners are interested in redevelopment.
- Town Hall campus will likely have redevelopment. The process will include developer interviews, select a developer, negotiate a development agreement, and begin the rezoning process. RFQ is to get information from developers. It is not a plan.
- 51% of Cary is covered by tree canopy and the canopy is growing. We are focusing on quality as well as quantity.
- Downtown Park will have over 600 new trees.
- 80% of Cary’s tree canopy is on private property and will require help from citizens.
- Staff is currently working on an Urban Forestry Master Plan.
- We are planting more trees on town owned property.
- The Count Me In Cary initiative is underway. It is about stewardship strategies for a sustainable future. Areas include energy, transportation & mobility, natural resources, solid waste, water infrastructure, and community.
- Property Tax Collections are up 3%.
- Sales Tax Collections are strong.
- Expenditures are up 26% due to inflation, personnel, and new employees.
Proposed FY24 Budget
- If a recession were to occur, Cary would likely be insulated from the impacts.
- A Smart Asset report that found Cary to be the #1 most resilient economy in the nation.
- Cary’s median household income (stated in 2021 dollars) of $113,782 reflects its highly educated citizenry of which 69.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- As of February 2023, projections place Cary’s unemployment rate at 2.7%.
- Cary is transitioning from a growing community to a maturing community.
- The FY 2024 Town of Cary budget totals $523.8 million supporting both operating and capital spending. Operating expenditures of $354.0 million increased 8.1% when compared to the prior year, while capital expenditures of $169.7 million are up 41.9%. It is not uncommon to see significant shifts in capital funding need as different projects are at different stages of progress from year to year.
- Property tax collections remained high at 99.8% last year, sales tax collections continued to experience record growth averaging 14.5 percent.
- The FY 2024 budget assumes that Cary’s property tax rate remains unchanged at $0.345 per $100 of assessed valuation and that 99.8% of that revenue will be collected.
- Each penny of Cary’s property tax rate generates approximately $3.4 million.
- The General Fund is at $239.9 million which is a 3.7% increase.
- Debt Service is at 9.8% of the operating budget, which is well below maximum goals.
- The solid waste fee will remain at $22.00 per month and will allow Cary to recover approximately 96% of operating costs.
- The FY 2024 budget recommends a 3% rate increase in Water, sewer, and irrigation ratesto support operational costs, capital infrastructure and debt repayment. The average family of four would experience an estimated $2.57 per month increase in their total monthly utility bill.
Potential Ordinances and Changes
- There are five changes that are no brainers. Add ordinances to prevent interference with property, public urination, public lewdness, and vehicle trespassing. There will be ordinance recommendations for parking decks as well as unattended property.
- There will be ordinances that will be difficult decisions that include charitable solicitation, commercial sales, sidewalk sales, and street performers.
The following is a summary of legislative actions for the week by KTS Strategies:
It was a very quiet week at the NC General Assembly. Most House members worked in District as there were no committee meetings or floor votes scheduled. The Senate conducted only one committee meeting to handle some local elections bills. No Senate floor votes were held. Senate leadership continued to finalize their budget details behind closed doors which could be released soon. We anticipate legislative activity to pick back up again next week.
Last week, the legislature passed S20, Care for Women, Children and Families Act. The bill would prohibit elective abortions after 12 weeks. Certain exceptions apply for rape, incest, fetal life-limiting anomalies, and risk of life to the mother. It also includes $160 million for maternal health services, adoption care, contraceptive services and paid leave for teachers and state employees after the birth of a child. Governor Cooper has announced he will veto the legislation on Saturday. The Senate could consider an override vote as early as next Tuesday.
This week, Representative Jeffrey Elmore (R-Wilkes) announced his run for Lieutenant Governor in the 2024 election. Elmore adds his name to a growing list of candidates for the position since current Lt. Governor Mark Robinson announced his run for Governor last month. Other Republican candidates include Hal Weatherman and Peter Boykin. Democratic candidates include State Senator Rachel Hunt of Charlotte and former Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey. There are several others that have announced their run for statewide offices in 2024.
For the Governor’s race, current State Treasurer Dale Folwell will challenge Mark Robinson in the Republican primary. Former North Carolina Congressman Mark Walker is also expected to announce his run in the coming weeks. On the Democratic ticket is current Attorney General Josh Stein. Announced candidates for the North Carolina Labor Commissioner race are Republican State Representatives Jon Hardister, Ben Moss, and Democratic Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Braxton Winston. For the State Treasurer race, State Representative Wesley Harris (D-Mecklenburg) announced his run in March. Another Mecklenburg County Representative, Republican Rep. John Bradford, has mentioned he is considering a run for Treasurer, but has yet to officially enter the race. The candidate filing period for the statewide 2024 elections begins at noon on Monday, December 4 and ends at noon on Friday, December 15, 2023. Primaries will be held on March 5, 2024.
- A request to pass an Inclusion and Equality ordinance (Cary did this last summer)
- A complaint about the Kanoy Property 22-REZ-13 proposal
- A thanks to an officer who helped a lost traveler
- Two complaints about town growth (Cary has grown at 2 to 2 1/2 % for the last 15 years)
- A complaint about a senior housing development on Lilly Atkins
Next week’s activities include staff meetings, two State of Cary addresses, a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, a Transportation Working Group Bike Ride, a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board meeting, a regularly scheduled council meeting, and a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Friday, May 19th, 2023. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communication with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.