Town Council

Our Cary Budget

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It’s Budget Time

Wake County Commissioners just passed their budget, and the NC General Assembly just dropped a big budget document on all the members’ desks on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.

For a vote on Wednesday, June 17, 2015. That’s right. The very next day.

The good news is that, here in the Town of Cary, we have a participatory budget process. It allows lots of time for involvement from you, our citizens. Read More…

Town of Cary Planning Retreat 2015

As many municipalities do, Town of Cary elected officials and staff go off once a year to plan for the upcoming year and have time to discuss procedural issues or concerns, and to just reconnect in a less formal environment. In general, we have had these retreats outside of Cary, so that we aren’t distracted from our work and home life while focusing on our Town jobs.

Since I’ve been on Council these “retreats” have been planned to be in areas where we can learn from the local experience. For instance, when we went to Winston-Salem, we spent time with the local folks getting a sense of what it took for them to revitalize their downtown. What did they do? How did they do it? What would they NOT do again? ☺  The idea being that we could learn so much from others who have attempted much of the same thing.

This time, our retreat agenda was focused on exactly THAT – but in Charlotte. We know we aren’t Charlotte and folks would probably say that we don’t want to be Charlotte, but there are always things that we can learn from another municipality that has, and is, facing similar issues and struggles.

Since I know that Councilman Frantz is posting HIS feeling on our trip, I’ll try not to cover what he did, and focus on what I learned during my “sick stupor” in the Queen City. (Yes, it’s true that I was sick during the whole trip – my biggest worry was that I didn’t want infect anyone while there.)

All Aboard

When we were first discussing Charlotte as a location, I asked if we could take the train, and what a great plan that was. The trip was fantastic – a real opportunity to use our transit system while having time to connect with staff and other council members. We had lunch on the train so that we could hit the ground running when we arrived.

Getting on the train

Getting ready to board the train

travelbytrainteam

Don, Harold, Jennifer and Lori – ready to go (Jack and Ed were already in their seats!)

We were lucky enough to have our own train car for our group of folks. After settling in we had several presenters from Amtrak that provided us with background on the Piedmont Improvement Program underway. This program’s goal is to make the train more reliable and safer, and the results are pretty impressive. The Carolinian (train from Charlotte to Raleigh and the return) has gone from a 4 hour 20 min trip in 1990 to a 3 hour, 10 min trip now. With their safety awareness outreach programs, they have seen a reduction in fatalities on the tracks as well.

Here are some interesting stats:

• Travelling at 55 MPH, it takes a mile for a train to stop

• Trucks are involved in 10 times more accidents than trains

• It is illegal to walk on the railroad tracks, they are private property

• Amtrak in NC also allows you to check a bicycle as luggage for free!

• Because of the increase in interest and ridership, a new midday service has been added between Raleigh and Charlotte

• The Cary Amtrak Station received an award from OneRail for being a National Example of Success

• The Cary Depot is the 4th busiest station in NC with 89,000 passengers

• The Cary Depot is the 2nd in the nation for customer satisfaction with a 94% customer satisfaction rate

• NC Train volunteers all over the state act as good will ambassadors – and they volunteer their time to help passengers. A number of Cary citizens are volunteers, including the president of the Train Volunteers, Bob Warner, who was on our trip

• The NC Train Volunteers are having their annual meeting in Cary this year, to be held at the Cary Theater!

Me and Bob Warner (Train volunteer extraordinaire)

Me and Bob Warner (Train volunteer extraordinaire)

Read More…

Planning for the Future

Last week/weekend was my second Cary Town Council retreat. So, I guess that means I’m not a newbie anymore. Seems weird to say that. 

Staff and Council

This retreat felt a bit different than last time – a little more relaxed, with more deep dives into some of the specific issues headed our way rather quickly. Last year’s retreat was more of the strategic, longer term planning – where we made some decisions regarding our Bond referendum (now since passed), the Cary Community Plan (in full planning mode), and received more information regarding demographic trends impacting our community.

Our Town Council retreat (which is ANYTHING but a retreat, more like a MOVE FORWARD) includes Town Council members, a facilitator, the Cary Department Directors and Administration, Town Clerk and a few others.  We generally arrive Thursday night, work all day on Friday and through about 3:30pm on Saturday.   Read More…

Cary’s Technology Task Force Begins

I promise, there WILL be a time when I DON’T blog about technology. (Ok, maybe that isn’t a promise I can keep.)

Our very own Cary “Geek Squad” aka the “Technology Task Force” met Wednesday for the first time at Town Hall. I was impressed with the breadth and depth of their experience, their passion for making Cary a better place, and their willingness to take valuable time out of their lives to help in this important endeavor.

First things First

The Technology Task Force is a “special committee” sanctioned by the Town Council to determine how the Town’s use of technology services can better serve its citizens.  As volunteers for the town, these folks were treated to an overview of the Town’s ethics policy, North Carolina Open Meetings Law and Public Records Law by the Deputy Town Clerk and Town Attorney’s office.

Read More…

Fracking, Round 2

There are two questions I get most often from people when they learn that I’m a member of Cary Town Council.

  1. How much time does it take? (I haven’t figured that out, yet.)
  2. How different is working on council than in the private sector? Now that’s a harder question. 

Normally, my answer is that I’m surprised how much longer things take in the Public Sector.  Not because there aren’t good people – in fact, quite the opposite.  But, if you can imagine doing your whole job, where just about every decision you make is out in the open, that just takes more time.  Also, because you and I and all citizens have the right to ask questions, provide feedback and input, and need to be informed – that can lengthen the process.

Read More…

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