Wilson City Council approves 2-cent tax increase

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With a vote of 6-1, Wilson's $242,400,260 budget — including a two-cent property tax increase — was approved at Thursday's city council meeting.

The public hearing on the budget was one of several scheduled during the 7 p.m. meeting, but no residents spoke up about any of the issues. With little discussion, the council approved a demolition order for 801 Black Creek Road, the rezoning of 4509 Country Club Drive to residential mixed-use and 6601 Ward Blvd. to heavy industrial as well as a $20,000 allocation to stabilize the former Anderson Apartments and a nearby house at the intersection of Vance and Bragg streets.

Anderson Apartments at 503 Vance St. was part of a $9.2 million housing development project back in 2013, but when the Winston-Salem developer did not get state assistance with funding, the project fell apart. The property has been vacant and neglected for years, but historic records show the Colonial Revival apartments were constructed in 1922 and officials want to save the structure.

Other actions taken at the meeting included approving a $1 per mile decrease in the rate for Safety Cab and construction bids for improved drainage, added pickleball courts and an improved walking trail at Cavalier Park, which will be renamed Rotary Park after a $100,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Greater Wilson. 

"Early on, this project was sort of contentious with some individuals who were against what was going to happen to the park," said Councilman Donald Evans. "We had an old-fashioned tent meeting there and brought all the area people out to explain what was going on and ask questions. We've still got some people who don't like it, but if everything we did got 100 percent agreement, we wouldn't be doing anything right. I want to thank (Parks and Recreation Director) David Lee and his staff along with the Rotary Club for getting this going."

A late addition to the agenda was a resolution pertaining to Greenlight Community Broadband service in Pinetops. According to a 2017 law, Greenlight has to cease operation in the Edgecombe County community within 30 days of a private company adding high-speed broadband service to the town. Earlier this month, Suddenlink Communications started serving the town, so Greenlight will stop serving Pinetops on July 12 and passed a resolution to sell the fiber optic system. 

National Network Holdings submitted an offer for $280,000 to purchase the Pinetops network, but the city is required to advertise for upset bids on the purchase. Interested investors must submit a bid of $294,050 or more by July 5.

There also were several presentations that took place at the monthly meeting, including the annual report from the Wilson Youth Council, which seeks to provide volunteer, service and leadership opportunities for area high school students. 

"One of the best parts about being a member of the Wilson Youth Council is being able to develop our leadership skills," said Cynitha Saunders, a rising senior at Wilson Early College. "Through our meetings and projects we develop confidence and learn how to work with new people. These are things we can read about in school, but actually getting to lead teams, make decisions and create projects gives us real-world experience."

The 125 active members during the 2017-18 academic year contributed to more than 30 community projects and completed 5,792 service hours. 

"It was hard work, but it was definitely worth it," said Sydney Buzard, a rising Wilson Early College junior.

The group of teens was selected as the state's best youth council - an honor Wilson has received five times in 10 years.

The meeting also served as an opportunity to highlight Wilson's recent reaccreditation as a national Main Street Community and Wilson Fire/Rescue Services earning an ISO Class 1 insurance rating.

"I commend you and your department for your dedication and commitment to making your community a safer place to live," said N.C. Fire Marshal Mike Causey.