Elections

Courthouse Parking Fees begin November 12

Let’s see, at every property revaluation, let’s lower the tax rate by 3 or 4 cents, and tap into the reserve funds to balance the county budget.

Then, we can justify fee-for-service where only those who use the service have to pay the fee.

It is simple, democratic, and fair for all who would be using the service, right?

Well in this case the newly instituted parking fees for “close in” parking near the courthouse in Gastonia have a few detractors who don’t like the idea of walking or being inconvenienced by a few extra feet.

In the case of attorneys who frequent the courthouse, we are sure that they have already figured a way to incorporate their “inconvenience” into their fee structures. So, who really loses and who really wins in this instance?

Did the county consider the parking “spread” in their plans when the new courthouse was built? They considered future use of the courthouse — by building an additional floor for future use. But where to put all the cars that people drive to get to the shiny edifice? Well, let’s plan for a parking deck — and figure out how to pay for it sometime later.

As our attention turns from municipal elections to county-related issues this might be one question to ask candidates and incumbents for any office. As with all OPM (other people’s money) questions, what are your plans to manage future costs and maintenance?

We feel that the $80-100,000 per year fee generation is a bit overly optimistic on county staffers budget estimates, and who is to say that this particular designation for offsets will hold past any election rhetoric?

As for us poor people who occasionally need to go to the court house, the one-block walk or the cross-over from the Main Avenue free parking side of town is not that big of a deal, even for the in-and-out errands.

Gaston County School Bonds are Passed

Gaston County School Bond – $175,000,000
Yes 12,281 65 %
No 6,520 35

Gaston voters embrace school bonds

City Speaks – Even if it was less than 30% of Eligible Voters

There were some bright spots in the Municipal elections yesterday. 

Two new people were elected to council — Martha Stowe and Ron Foulk. One incumbent, Charlie Flowers returned to office.

Belmont Council

* Martha S. Stowe 852 20 %
* Ron Foulk 710 17 %
* Charles Flowers 556 13 %
Richard Turner 517 12 %
Curtis Gaston 509 12 %
Irl Dixon 501 12 %
Becky Burch 361 8 %
Dennis Boyce 230 5 %
Karen Valentine 56 1 %
Write-in 8 0 %

Congratulations to the new and returning council members. However, the dynamic does not change al that much.

Becky Burch was replaced by an ally in Ron Foulk. His positions on growth management  are still fuzzy and we wonder if his job responsibilities may interfer with his ability to be an effective member of council. He is a vert smart and articulate administrator and that pleases all of us, because he will take the time to read and research issues that come before council – not blindly vote as directed by others. As a community, we encourage you to watch Mr. Foulk carefully on issues such as city personnel and public safety, strategic planning, view points on annexation-related services and timelines. A person can do a lot of damage in 4 years.

Charlie Flowers’ support has diminished in this election, earning only 556 votes this time around. The overall turnout and number of candidates certainly contributed to the number. We hope that he would have promised to stay awake through the council meetings and work sessions in return for his re-election bid, but he didn’t offer that to the voters. It is difficult to see if he will still carry his chip on the shoulder towards newcomers to the community or if he will embrace the positives that come with planned growth and management.

The new triumvirate will line up with Flowers, Foulk, and Martin setting the tone and quite possibly fighting the manager’s and mayor’s overall strategic comprehensive growth agenda. Basically, this election result guarantees that we will see at least two more years of personal agendas over what is best for the community.

Martha Stowe brings a good mind and energy to the council. We hope that she will remain even-handed in this public role. She is certainly articulate and will speak her mind.

All are supporters of parks and recreation plans. That is a good thing. With the approval of the Bond, the Parks and Recreation Department can seriously begin work on their master plan of 2003.

Belmont Park and Rec. Bond – $12,000,000
* Yes 1,046 69 %
No 477 31 %

We certainly expect that Mr. Dixon and his 100-year family legacy will be back for either another run for council or to challenge as Mayor. That will bear watching the next two years.

Again, we will support — and watch carefully — as the new council members are seated and begin their term. 

Bonds, City Council big draws for Belmont voters

From a Gazette Update today:     vote.jpg

By Daniel Jackson
November 6, 2007 – 11:55AM
Voting got off to a busy start at Belmont Central Elementary School with only a few minor mix-ups, said Barbara Parker, the chief judge of that voting precinct.

“It started shortly after the polls opened and it’s been a steady stream ever since,” Parker said. Parker said volunteers at the other two voting precincts in Belmont sounded like they were busy, as well.

A few voters showed up that were not registered to vote at the school, but poll workers helped them find the correct precinct, she said.

“We were able to figure out where they needed to be,” Parker said.

Parker said she doesn’t know what the turnout will be like compared to previous years, but she expects more participation this year because of the school and recreation bonds on the ballot.

As of about 10 a.m., voters trickled in a few at a time. Parker said the precinct had a line early this morning, when people stopped on their way to work. She said she expects things to pick up again at lunch time and after people get off work tonight.

“We’re just crossing our fingers that the rest of the day goes the way this morning did,” Parker said.

Check back at http://www.gastongazette.com for updates on today’s voting.

Belmont council talks higher fines for water use violations

water-tap.jpgfrom the Tuesday Gazette:Belmont Councilman Irl Dixon said the city should consider increasing fines for water violations, if a higher level of water conservation becomes necessary.And that time could come as soon as next month, City Manager Barry Webb told City Council at its meeting Monday.Webb said Duke Energy told members of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group at a meeting Friday that recent rain improved storage in the basin slightly. But, if the area doesn’t get more rain soon, Stage IV water restrictions could be imposed by mid-December or early January, he said.

“If we go into another stage, I think we need to go to heavier fines,” Dixon said.

Current Stage III fines for water violations start at $100.

According to city staff, some Belmont water users have been fined for watering lawns in the middle of the night. Dixon and Belmont Utilities Director Chuck Flowers said they have both seen several Belmont lawns that appear to be getting water.

“I know this stuff is going on. People are going out at two or three in the morning to water their grass,” Dixon said.

According to Webb, Belmont currently has the most restrictive ordinance in place for water conservation during drought conditions. Rules applied to the different stages of drought conservation vary for each municipal utility, though they all have the same goal of reducing water use by a certain percentage. Other cities in the Catawba chain have more lenient restrictions in place, Webb said.

“We’re probably stricter than anybody right now,” Webb said.

As part of the drought discussion, Webb said Duke Energy also presented a worse case scenario, projecting that usable water in the basin could become depleted by mid-March, if rainfall remains scarce. That means some water intakes in the Catawba chain would begin to lose the ability to draw water, he said.

That scenario is improbable, but just in case, Belmont is talking to the cities of Gastonia and Mount Holly about line connections to pump water to Belmont customers in an emergency, Webb said.

“If the worse case scenario happens, we’re going to have options to meet our needs,” Webb said.

You can reach Daniel Jackson at (704) 869-1833.

Bond Referendums

The Belmont Chamber of Commerce is endorsing both Bond Referendums on the November 6 ballot.

We are agreeing to this endorsement as well.

Vote yes for the $12 million Parks and Recreation Bonds.

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Vote yes for the $175 million School Bonds.

School Bonds Information: bond_small.jpg

school-bonds-critical-to-our-children.pdf

Endorsement Party Discussion

What a great evening !   endorsements.jpg

Food, drink, friends and neighbors. Discussing politics among friends can get touchy from time to time, but the great food made up for it.

Everyone walked away with a good feeling about the following recommendations:

  • Your vote is crucial to the foward movement of Belmont, its extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), and the next generation of families and citizens.
  • Every vote counts. Do not underestimate the power of one vote, just remember to get out and make the effort. Multiply your effectiveness by calling your neighbor and offering to help them get to a polling station.
  • Becky Burch and Charlie Flowers need to be retired by election out of office. Both have continued to perpetuate the good ‘ol boy backwoods emotion of pitting newcomers against the hometown-born and raised. They are inneffective as a team and inconsequential as free-thinkers.

The Belmont Front Porch is endorsing Dennis Boyce, Martha Stowe, and Richard Turner for City Council.

Dennis Boyce, no relation to Mayor Richard Boyce, has demonstrated a willingness to become involved with the community politics and represent the North Belmont Community that for years has been underserved. Mr. Boyce will represent the community in an educated manner, listen to both sides of a story, and not have preconceived notions about his own pocketbook.

We feel that Martha Stowe deserves your vote and support because she too will bring a sense of fairness to the council discussions. Martha is knowledgeable about the issues, has a good connection to the younger people of the community, and continues to work hard in a number of community activities that are not always sports-related. She will not be anybody’s patsie.

Richard Turner was the toughest decision for endorsement. However, we do feel that ultimately he too will be fair in his council decisions and processing of the issues. Our concern is over his axe-grinding on public-private partnerships. He has demonstrated a willingness to  learn more about an issue, even if he openly disagrees, he is civil in his overall behaviors and will talk to opponents.

Independent voices for an independent and thriving community. It is your choice, we still love you Belmont, whether you agree with our choices or not.

See ya’ll on Tuesday !

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