Cary, NC – Happy New Year!
Since this was a holiday week there isn’t a lot to post.
Thursday – Economic Forecast
Thursday morning I attended the Economic Forecast breakfast held by the Cary Chamber. At the beginning of the event, I had the honor and privilege of administering the Oath of Office for my friend Gale Adcock’s third term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Mayor Pro-Tem Bush held Gale’s Bible (her grandmother’s). I have had the pleasure to know Gale since 2007 and served with her on the Cary council for years. I couldn’t possibly think of a better person to represent Cary. I am sure she will continue to do a great job on our behalf.
The featured speaker at the Economic Forecast breakfast was Dr. Michael Walden of N.C. State. Some of the interesting points I took away from his talk included:
- There was a GDP growth of 3.2% in 2018
- 5 million jobs were added last year
- The nationwide jobless rate was 3.7%
- There was a small recession in 2015
- Some believe there will be a recession in 2020
- Triggers for recession include: household debt, business debt, energy prices, the Federal Reserve, trade wars, foreign shock (China’s challenges), and the stock market.
- Contrary to media reports the Federal Reserve is independent and the chairman cannot be fired by the President
- The Federal Reserve increases rates to control inflation
- If the Federal Reserve increases rates too fast then it could stop growth
- There is a new NAFTA deal in the works
- Current trade war has hurt China.
- If all trade war threats are implemented China could go into a deep recession or even a depression. If that happens it would cause a big hit on the US growth rate
- China is seeing slower growth, high debt, a “wobbly” financial sector. Their growth impacts Germany and Japan significantly
- Stock Market may be overvalued. It is a daily evaluation of the economy. The market will react to fundamental factors.
- US national debt has tripled in the last few years but interest rates have kept the impact low
- Interest rates as a percent of the budget could jump from 7% to 14% by 2028 having a huge impact on what the federal government provides
- Challenges include an aging labor population, labor productivity, the “invisible” unemployment or those not looking for jobs, urban/rural divide, and technology
- 2019 outlook: GDP slows to 2.7%, jobless rate at 3.7%, inflation and the Federal Reserve
- North Carolina added 100,000 new jobs in 2018 and has a faster growth rate than the nation
- North Carolina has a slower GDP growth rate than the nation
- North Carolina economic indicators showed a significant drop last year after the Hurricane but is recovering
- Wake County job growth rate is 3.6%, Raleigh’s is 3.1%, that state is 2.2%, and the nation is 1.5%
- Cary’s population grew by 25% since 2010
- Cary’s average annual earnings are 39% higher than the nation
The information was very helpful to the business leaders and elected officials in attendance. His talk concluded after about 45 minutes.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report included the following:
First Walk 2019
The Greenway Committee and Teen Council helped residents kick off 2019 on the right foot with the annual First Walk. The White Oak Greenway provided a perfect setting for over 150 participants to begin the new year by exploring the greenway system, enjoying the mild temperatures and getting a start on healthy habits for 2019. First Day Hikes began over 40 years ago in North Carolina to promote healthy lifestyles and recreational opportunities.
Over 400 people enjoyed the colorful sights and sounds of the 24th Annual Cary Kwanzaa Celebration at the Cary Arts Center on Friday, December 28th. The annual event is a communal, cultural celebration that honors our African-American heritage and is a celebration for all people, focusing on family, friends and the fruits of the earth. Kwanzaa is co-sponsored by the Ujima Group, Inc.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Working to Build A Kind and Just World” and featured a wide array of performances including percussionist Bradley Simmons (pictured above), jazz ensemble The Mac McLaughin Group and Collage Dance Company. Vocalist Shannon and piano and flute duo of Elmer Gibson and Lori Barmer closed out the show. A highlight of the day was the traditional Kwanzaa ceremony with libation, candle lighting and Harambee Circle.
Swearing-In Ceremony at Town Hall
On January 10, a ceremonial swearing-in event for some members of our State Delegation will occur at 5:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Participants include Representative Robert Reives, Representative Cynthia Ball, Senator-Elect Wiley Nickle, Representative-Elect Allison Dahle, and Representative-Elect Julie von Haefen.
Town of Cary Asset Management Report
2018 was the Town’s first year with a formal asset management program, a collaborative initiative built with the support of stakeholders from across departments. As part of this program, the first annual asset management report was issued, providing a ‘dashboard view’ of the current state of Town assets. This report helps verify that program implementation is producing the expected results and that level-of-service standards are being met. Initial activities were focused on buried infrastructure such as water, wastewater, reclaimed water and stormwater. In the future, other linear assets and vertical infrastructure will be included.
The next Rezoning Neighborhood Meeting will occur at Town Hall on Wednesday, January 9 at 6:30 p.m. Neighborhood meetings provide an opportunity for applicants to present information on new rezoning requests and receive feedback from nearby property owners prior to the formal public hearing. Staff will provide general information regarding Cary’s rezoning process.
There are three rezoning cases for Wednesday’s meeting:
- Sorrell Acres (18-REZ-28): request to rezone three properties (with a total of 8.42 acres) at 6610 Holly Springs Road and other unaddressed properties in the northwest and southwest quadrants of the intersection of Holly Springs Road and SE Cary Parkway from Residential 40 (R-40) to Transitional Residential Conditional Use (TR-CU) with zoning conditions that include limiting land use to a maximum of 40 townhouses, increasing community gathering space, imposing architectural conditions, and requiring the use of public streets within the site.
- 2832 Carpenter Upchurch Road (18-REZ-29): request to rezone 13.82 acres at 2832 Carpenter Upchurch Road from General Commercial Conditional Use (GC-CU) (12.72 acres) and Residential Multi-Family Conditional (RMF-C) (1.10 acres) to Residential Multi-Family Conditional Use (RMF-CU) with zoning conditions that include limiting land use to townhouses with a maximum density of 8 dwelling units per acre.
- Twyla Road North PDD (18-REZ-30): request to create a new Planned Development District (PDD) by rezoning 36.84 acres at the northeast quadrant of Morrisville Parkway and NC 540 along Twyla Road from Residential 40 (R-40) to Planned Development District–Major (PDD-Major) to allow a mix of multi-family, hotel, commercial/retail uses, and associated amenities.
Transit Plan Annual Report
In FY18, the County collected $99 million for public transit in according to the Wake County Transit Plan Annual Report. This funding has facilitated progress on:
- Local transit service improvements in the urban cores of Raleigh and Cary, as well as rural portions of Wake County.
- A major planning study to address short- and long-term plans for fixed-route bus services, as well as coordinated human service transportation throughout Wake County.
- Initial planning activities to study specific corridor details related to bus rapid transit and commuter rail.
- Savings for future capital costs related to the design and construction of bus rapid transit and commuter rail corridors.
The FY20 Wake Transit Work Plan is currently being developed. A draft will be available for review and public comment in the spring.
Utility Assistance for Robbins, NC
In November, Triangle J Council of Governments requested utility operator assistance on behalf of the Town of Robbins. Cary and Durham County responded by offering temporary assistance while Robbins is recruiting and hiring a Water System Operator in Responsible Charge (ORC).
The Town of Robbins, population 1,200, is located in northwestern Moore County and operates with a small, multi-disciplinary staff who maintains streets, utilities, and public works. Robbins is still actively recovering from infrastructure damage associated with Hurricane Florence.
Davis Reynolds, a Cary Water Distribution System Operator and a resident of Moore County with 35 years of public service, agreed to serve in the same capacity for Robbins until they hire a new ORC. Davis has been instrumental in supporting Robbins through his contacts with Public Water Supply and the utilities operating in Moore County. Davis and his Durham County counterpart are meeting with the staff in Robbins at least once per week to support their water system management program. Davis also assisted in responding to a water main break in late December.
This is a great example of governments working together as Cary, Durham County, Triangle J and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Public Water Supply Section collaborated to support Robbins, ensuring that their citizens have continuous access to clean, safe drinking water. Special thanks to Davis Reynolds for demonstrating the Cary Way by going the extra mile in supporting our neighbors.
New Year, New You
To kick off 2019, community center staff is taking over @EnjoyCary on Instagram to showcase the amazing facilities and free classes being offered during New Year, New You. Showcased events include Goat Yoga at Middle Creek, fitness opportunities at Herb Young and a peak behind the curtain at the Senior Center. Still to come are a busy day at Bond Park Community Center and The Hive. Hundreds of followers are watching the Instagram stories and engaging with the fun polls and questions being posted by staff.
Public Records Request
WRAL requested the number of incidents for 2016-2018 in the following categories: homicides, robberies, burglaries, and aggravated assaults. You can see the results in the chart below. A special thank you to our records staff who processed this requested in a timely manner despite the New Year’s holiday.
2016 2017 2018 Homicide 1 0 0 Robberies 68 44 39 Burglaries 234 285 267 Aggravated Assaults 62 63 62
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens since my last post included:
- A complaint that leaves were not collected twice in December so that luminaries could be placed (Public works staff, responsible for the December snow event in addition to leaves. They have been working lots of hours including weekends. They worked into the evening on Christmas Eve collecting leaves. The director apologized to the citizen for not being able to collect his leaves.)
- A thank you for collecting leaves (interestingly the same day as the complaint).
- Support for another hotel proposal in Weston.
- Many well wishes for the holiday season. THANK YOU!
- Concerns about water runoff as a result of a future road widening project by someone from the Retreat at Reedy Creek (Staff will meet with them to go over their concerns).
- Questions about building pickle ball courts at the Prestonwood Country Club (Staff will meet with them).
- A request to recognize the postal worker who helped save a life on Christmas Eve (This has been all over the news and I made sure to thank him with a letter from town hall).
Next week’s activities will be more of a normal schedule. Those duties include staff meetings, a meeting with State Senator Searcy, hosting boy scouts, and a town council meeting.
Get In Touch
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, January 13th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications 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.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.