By: Carol Pritchett, Mayor
Town of Lake Lure
The Lake Lure Town Council held three Community Forums on 7/28/20 at the Lake Lure Classical Academy Gymnatorium. We held the meetings at 10am-12pm, 2-4pm, and 6-8pm to allow individuals with various schedules to be able to attend the meeting in smaller groups. I would like to thank the over 120 citizens who joined us for these important meetings in addition to the State oversight representatives, engineers, consultants, advisors, your Town Council, and Town of Lake Lure staff. Additionally, I would like to thank the following special guests for attending our forum: Don Cason (Executive Director, Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority), Barbara Cohen
(Director, Lake Lure Classical Academy), Walter Dalton (President, Isothermal Community
College), Morris “Moe” Davis (Candidate for NC House Seat, 11th Congressional District), Graeme McGufficke (Campaign Manager, Moe Davis for Congress, NC11), Steve Garrison (Rutherford County Manager), Ralph Hise, Jr. (Senator, NC Senate District 47), Ken Jordan (Chairperson, Rutherford County Democratic Party), Bryan King (Chairman of the Board – Rutherford County), James Ledgerwood (Superintendent , Chimney Rock State Park), Dick McCallum (Former Town Council Member and Chairman, Rutherford County Republican Party), Chuck McGrady (NC House of Representatives, 117th District), Roger Kumpf (10th District Director, Representative Patrick McHenry), Peter O’Leary (Mayor, Chimney Rock Village),
We realize this was a challenging time to hold an in-person meeting, but we found a way to hold the forums safely so we could share critical updates with the community through a partnership with the Lake Lure Classical Academy. We thank the school for their support. The School nurse took everyone’s temperature before they entered the school. Everyone wore face coverings and all seats were physically distant from each other for safety. For those that were unable to attend the meeting in person, you may view a recording of the meeting at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNkNHFE72AA
We were very pleased to have our state oversight at the meeting including Landon Davidson, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) Water Resources Regional Supervisor, Water Quality Regional Operations and George Eller, NC DEQ Dam Safety Officer. Additionally, the Town’s key engineers, financial consultants and policy advisors present included: Kurt Wright (SDG Engineering/Town Engineer-Dredging), Reese Walsh (LaBella Associates-Sewer System), Jonathan Pittman (Schnabel Engineering-Dam), Seth Robertson (WithersRavenel/WR Martin-Finance), Steve Metcalf (The Policy Group-Policy Advisors), and forum moderatorScott Dadson (Isothermal Regional Planning Commission).
The Town is moving forward with an extensive plan for Lake Lure Dam renovations, Sewer System rehabilitation, and Lake maintenance. Protecting and maintaining our community requires an aggressive plan to foster federal and state support, promote partnerships, and increase tax payer investments to set the conditions for our long-term success. The Town has addressed these issues with our FY20-21 Budget; however, these projects will be funded one budget at a time over many years to come.
We have partnered with the best engineering firms available and have worked closely with state agencies to develop a long-term infrastructure plan. The Town is working to fund the plan from multiple sources. We are implementing efficiency measures to mitigate the financial stresses on local taxes and user fees, but more is required. Higher Lake use fees, water and sewer rates, and taxes are required to build capital reserves and provide vital seed money for infrastructure repair/rehabilitation. These subjects were addressed during the meeting, followed by a question and answer session. You may review all of the questions and answers that were addressed during the meeting at the
following link on the Town’s website: http://www.townoflakelure.com/community-forum.php
These specific questions were highlighted during the presentations made by the consultants listed above:
1. What rates are going up? Property Taxes, Utility Rates, and Lake Use Fees
2. What critical repairs are needed? Dam, Sewer, and Dredging
3. Why repairs must be made now? Avoid Infrastructure Collapse, Remain a Viable Community,
and Implement State Mandates
4. Why rates must increase? Repairs and maintenance are not optional and must be made. We
must pay for repairs/maintenance. We have to pay our share while seeking state and federal
Your Town Council understands the hardships associated with increasing taxes and user fees, and we are committed to making good use of your hard-earned dollars. We are facing a convergence of state-mandated repairs, renovations, and replacements that will cost in excess of $100 million dollars over the next several decades. The resourcing of these projects is beyond the capacity of our small tax base, but we have to build a strategic cash reserve to bolster confidence in state agencies and outside investors. Lake Lure, in good faith, must impose new fees and taxes in conjunction with seeking external financial support. About two-thirds of your property taxes fund County services and only one-third may be applied to Lake Lure municipal services and infrastructure.
Your Town leadership has worked diligently over the past several years to keep Lake Lure’s tax rate in the lower third of municipalities within a 50-mile radius and for towns with a similar size population. An Ad Valorem Tax Rate increase from .36 to .42 is in keeping with similar municipal rates and is essential to maintain adequate public safety (Police and Fire), Parks, Recreation, and Lake Operations, and to move forward with the aforementioned infrastructure projects. This increase will result in a transfer to the Capital Reserve Fund in the amount of $483,936.
It is vital that the Town demonstrates to potential federal and state funding sources that we are doing everything on our part to implement the long-term infrastructure plan. If we are going to succeed, we are going to need their partnership for future funding. We ask for your understanding and support. Together, we will overcome our daunting infrastructure needs with a forward focus to successfully secure the natural beauty and prosperity of our Lake for generations to come.