By Clellie Allen
ROLESVILLE — When Rolesville town commissioners and staff gathered for their annual retreat Friday, the tone was decidedly different from the prior year. Although there are still many needs different departments have and the lack of more commercial development means the burden for providing services falls on residents, much was accomplished in the past year and it seems the town is on better footing than previously.
It didn’t hurt at all that Rolesville has again seen exponential growth in the residential arena. Planning Director Thomas Lloyd told commissioners the 2013 calendar year was the best on record for residential growth with 321 permits issued.
Those permits represented $82.5 million in improvement value,” Lloyd said and were more than Knightdale, Morrisville or Garner issued for the year.
Before each department got started sharing with commissioners what their biggest needs were, Town Manager Bryan Hicks began with the need for a new plan of action or Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
A CIP is the short-range plan municipalities use to identify capital projects, equipment and improvements needed over a 5-8 year timeframe. It gives commissioners and staff an outline of what needs to happen and how it will be paid for.
It has been six years since Rolesville updated their CIP. If growth had been more average, six years wouldn’t be too long. But when a town experiences explosive growth, the CIP needs to be updated more frequently to allow for better budgeting and grant applications, Hicks said.
Each department presented project needs broken down into what was most important and urgent and what the total cost would be for the commissioners to evaluate.
Still more police needed
The police department made great advances in the past year, including bringing equipment in the office and in each squad car up-to-date, Police Chief Matt Anderson said.
The department received its grant for Tasers and has issued them to officers. Also, the staff has grown to 13, including the addition of a School Resource Officer for Rolesville High and a full-time investigator. They also updated their Records Management system to be able to exchange information with the county and other agencies, he said.
The immediate needs of the department, Anderson told the board, include adding three officers to align shifts to have a supervisor and two officers on duty at all times. Currently, the department cannot ensure having two officers on duty around the clock. And as Rolesville continues to grow — the increasing population of the high school, the opening of the bypass and the annexation of Rogers Farm for example — it will become harder to meet the needs of the community, he said.
The other immediate need is for additional patrol vehicles as new officers are added and as current vehicles hit their mileage ceiling. Police cars “age out” more quickly than average cars because of the inordinate amount of time they must be left to idle, which puts more stress on the engine than normal driving.
Lastly, Anderson brought up the need to start looking at new facilities for the department. They have been at the current location since 2007 and have had to rent additional storage space for records, for example. Anderson said the evidence room is filled and many officers share desk space with records. One option would be to move to the former Credit Union at 300 Southtown Circle. Another would be to upgrade the current facility, although that would simply make things fit a bit better without actually adding square footage.
Recreation needs abound
Another department requesting more staff was Parks and Recreation.
Director J.G. Ferguson proposed commissioners look at hiring a new program coordinator who could expand existing cultural programs and offer new ones — things in line with the currently offered Tai Chi, senior dancing, Fall Fun Fest and the like. The coordinator could also help with sports programs as they continue to grow.
One area Ferguson would like to see expanded are the movie nights, to draw more families together. Also needed is lighting for the Rolesville Middle School softball fields, which would allow for more teams to play.
Ferguson turned the tables on commissioners and asked them what they would like to see, especially for areas like Millbridge Park. The lack of good parking hampers being able to hold events there currently — like the movie night. Commissioners even tossed around getting rid of the amphitheater and turning it into a dog park. They also discussed purchasing adjacent land to create a better parking area.
New town hall on the table?
In keeping with the theme of thinking big, Hicks presented to commissioners ideas like creating a farmers market at 105 West Young Street, beside the old post office.
Also on the table is designing a new town hall campus. Hicks recommended commissioners consider laying out $34,000 in the new year for the development of a proposal for site preparation and what the design of the overall campus would be.
Ideas kicked around for such a complex were that it could include space for a library, police offices, parks and recreation and so forth.
Hicks also mentioned the need for new financial software for the town. The current system is more than 15 years old and some functions no longer work.
Another need is resurfacing several streets including Redford Place Drive, Wall Creek Drive, Perry Street and Theresa Drive.
As with any budgeting process, the ability to pay for what is needed or wanted is key. Hicks outlined that funding could come from several places: Thoroughfare Impact Fees are expected to bring in $475,665 over five years; Park Impact Fees could be $985,750 in the same time frame.
Powell Bill funds, which can be use for maintaining, repairing, constructing, reconstructing or widening of any street or public thoroughfare, could add an additional $773,225.
Commissioners also discussed the possibility of dipping into the General Fund, which functions like a savings account for municipalities, issuing bonds, applying for more grants and even considering if the time was right to consider a tax increase.
No decision was made on any of these suggestions as a retreat is more like a workshop to present a lot of information and get the ball rolling on discussion of needs.
The town board will hold its regular meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at which time it will also hold public hearings on four cases: an amendment to the town’s Open Space and Greenway Plan, an amendment to the Rural Mobile Home District standards, a request for rezoning of two parcels on Rocky Knoll Lane from R1 to Rural Mobile Home District and the creation of an R3 zoning district which would allow for multi-family construction without the usual restrictions of a Residential and Planned Unit Development.