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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials View of the Mayor: Research The Facts When Making Decisions

View of the Mayor: Research The Facts When Making Decisions

By ROBERT LEWIS
Carolina Beach Mayor

In last week’s publication in a letter to the editor the uninformed writer stated information on a number of issues which are not substantiated with any real facts. 
The contention that our town needs an operations building and needs to purchase a large parcel of land to house the operations department is just not valid and in my opinion makes no business sense.  
Making a claim that there is no savings to the town by outsourcing our fleet maintenance department is not substantiated by real financial data (actual town costs). 
When this same author attacks council for developing a plan to use allocated state grant money to repair, upgrade and expand our wooden boardwalk is clearly unfounded.  I guess this individual resident proposes council tell the state of North Carolina instead of investing $1.1 million of state grant money in Carolina Beach please send it to some other more deserving area of the state.
That would be like me calling the governor’s office and telling him our taxpayers would rather pay for the required repairs and upgrades of our wooden boardwalk out our own property taxes and we do not deserve any part of our annual state taxes we pay to North Carolina.   
Just to be clear this current council did not create the mess and problems which forced the Army who manages the Sunny Point property to require our town operations department to comply with the conditions of and land lease and move off of the property. 
Over the years former town managers ignored the Army when they were denied requests to dump materials, junk, garbage, equipment and personnel onto the property against the conditions of the original lease.  This council took up the challenge to find a solution to comply with the lease and rectify the problems created by others and we made decisions which are fiscally responsible. 
If the Army was willing to give us an extension of time to evaluate and find the best option to handle operations why not take advantage of it.   Since we were first informed of the issues at Sunny Point council developed solutions and implemented our plan of action. 
We first took some of the under-utilized office space at town hall and made it into an operations office for the department.  Now all of the town’s employees with the exception of those operating the Waste Treatment Plant and the Fire Department are now housed at town hall.  If you haven’t been to town hall the place was build with an inefficient office design and that means we have lots and lots of wasted space.  
This move proved to be an improvement for the employees from their former facility (a doublewide trailer).   Please come see for yourself and visit town hall and look around at all the under-used office space we still have available. 
Next council leased space at the Federal Point Shopping Center at a very low cost and removed all the equipment, junk, materials and garbage off the Sunny Point Property and moved the salvageable pieces and parts to the Federal Point Shopping Center.  
We sold and tore down the former greenhouse and double wide trailer on the lot.  We also forced our operations department to incorporate a totally new business practice by having them conduct an entire inventory of all equipment, parts, materials and supplies remaining in the department. 
Council also identified a town owned parcel of land and voted to change the zoning of this 9 acre parcel to temporary house a garbage compactor and transfer area and potentially a fleet maintenance service building if needed.  
At the same time that council voted on this rezoning we also continued to evaluate other options to house the garbage compactor and transfer area. I voted against the rezoning because the property was formerly zoned residential and the land has some civil war historic value.   Council initially rezoned property to establish a fallback position if the Army would not give us an extension of time to move all the operations functions.   We have since identified a couple parcels of land in the Industrial zoned sections of town which should provide enough room for the compactor and transfer area.
We continued to evaluate the cost benefit of having our own fleet maintenance department over the past year. 
Our town manager and assistant manager prepared a line item by line item comparison spreadsheet and the factual financial analysis proved the town can save money by outsourcing our entire fleet maintenance. 
Over the years the Town of Carolina Beach has outsourced repair work on our heavy equipment and the large mechanical repairs.   The question then become why not outsource all of our fleet maintenance if it saves money for our taxpayers.  
There is an additional benefit for outsourcing our fleet maintenance to a professional service facility and that is they will record all maintenance and provide the town manager an entire history of all maintenance and associate cost over the life of the vehicle electronically by vehicle.  
It will provide our staff a preventive maintenance roadmap for every vehicle going forward.  This is a standard practice in most companies who operate a fleet and this technology has traditionally lowered the cost of our fleet maintenance.  
Just like any other business we would like to keep all of employees working and our management staff went out and found a local automotive service company who has agreed to hire the two individuals we had in the Fleet maintenance department. 
Council is still working on finding a permanent place for all of the town’s large equipment stored at the Federal Point Shopping Center. 
One plan council is working on is a potential property exchange of town owned property with property owned by the State of North Carolina.  One such state owned parcel abuts our current town hall facility and would be a perfect fit for all of our town needs.  
Any person with common sense would have to agree that exchanging old un-used town property makes more sense than buying more land. 
Again my objective and that of our town council is to use a fiscally responsible business approach when considering how we spend your hard earned tax dollars.  We could, like others in our community suggest, just go out and waste your money and acquire some more land for the town and build a huge operations building (Estimated cost over $4 Million Dollars).  
My question is why would anyone believe that is the best approach for the town?   Why waste more of our taxpayer’s money on land and buildings when we own a whole boat load of property?   Every time we acquire a parcel of land we lose the property tax revenue it generates. 
Call me crazy but does that really make financial sense to you?
I have said since the first day I took office I do not believe in big government and I believe we should run our local town government more like a business.  If any resident is interested I will gladly provide you or personally show you an inventory list of all of the land the town owns and you can make your own decision if we should go out and increase the town debt by buying up more commercial land and build more buildings. 
Bob Lewis
Mayor, Carolina Beach
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(910) 599-2879