The West Jefferson Board of Aldermen approved the use of a portion of downtown as the site for the Second Annual Antiques Fair and learned the results of its annual audit, at its regular meeting Monday night in the town hall.
“It was a 100 percent success…it was really good for the town,” said Keith Woodie, one of the organizers of the fair held this past September.
Woodie was addressing the aldermen during the meeting for the purpose of requesting the fair be held downtown instead of on the Backstreet, where it was held in September.
He was proposing holding the fair on E. Main Street from N. Jefferson Avenue to Badger Funeral Home.
He told the aldermen that he had contacted all of the businesses that could potentially be impacted by having the fair downtown to determine whether or not they would support such a move.
Woodie said all but two downtown businesses were supportive of the venue change.
The owners of the Parkway Theater had reservations about blocking off the street during the fourth weekend in September 2013 from Friday afternoon until mid-afternoon Sunday, said Woodie.
Woodie assured the aldermen he would make every attempt to minimize the fair’s impact on the theater.
“I’ll break my back to make it work for them,” said Woodie.
He also said the owners of Parker Tie Co. had concerns about the potential impact blocking off the street would have on its customers’ ability to park.
However, Woodie said the owners of Parker Tie Co. were supportive of the fair being held downtown, as long as an effort was made to allow its customers to have access to parking.
Alderman Calvin Green recognized that blocking off parking in front of the theater would have an impact.
“You block’em off and it will really hurt them,” said Green.
Alderman Stephen Shoemaker acknowledged that staging an event that blocks off portions of downtown would have an impact on some businesses.
“If we have this, you’re not going to make everybody happy,” said Shoemaker.
However, he said later, “it looks good to me…I would at least give it a shot.”
Mayor Dale Baldwin said he and two town staffers had also surveyed the downtown businesses about blocking off the street and had heard the same concerns from the two businesses.
He added, however, that all other businesses potentially impacted had expressed support for the effort.
After the discussion ended on the request, the aldermen voted unanimously to allow the fair to be held downtown, with Aldermen Lester Mullis, Dr. Brett Summey, and Tom Hartman joining Green and Shoemaker voting yes.
The aldermen then learned the results of the annual financial audit of West Jefferson’s finances.
“You did have a clean opinion this year,” said Priscilla Norris, the CPA that conducted the audit.
According to highlights of the audit report submitted to the aldermen:
• The assets of the town exceeded its liabilities at the close of the fiscal year by $12,523,088;
• The total net assets of the town increased by $500,371, primarily due to increases in governmental activities net assets;
• West Jefferson’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $1,663,883, which includes an increase in operations of $151,743 in comparison with the prior year. Approximately 56.7 percent of the total amount, or $943,462, is available for spending at the government’s discretion;
• West Jefferson’s total debt decreased by $196,189 during the fiscal year, primarily because of a decrease in the payment of principal;
• The town’s overall property tax collection dropped slightly from 96.19 percent to 95.71 percent;
• The fund balance of the general fund increased by $236,129; and
• Total net assets of the Water and Sewer Fund increased by $186,271 mainly due to federal and state grants received for the Oakwood Road water line project.
West Jefferson Police Chief Jeff Rose reported that in December, the department had 197 calls, 14 for traffic accidents, issued 26 citations, and arrested 13, five of those on drug violations.
The aldermen also heard from Public Works Director David Hamilton.
He reported the town’s new sludge truck had been delivered and that his staff was still working some challenges with low water flows at the town’s wells.
Hamilton said that year end, the area had gotten 45.5 inches of rain, but only half an inch of snow, versus an average snowfall of 40 to 45 inches
Maintenance Director Eric Miller reported that 125 new water meters had been ordered and as soon as the town’s Christmas lights were taken down, his staff would continue installing the meters.
Miller also reported on plans to sweep the town’s streets when the weather allowed.
Town manager Brantley Price reported that tax collections were at approximately $971,000 or 89.4 percent of the levy.
He also reported the West Jefferson Tourism Development Authority would have a meeting on Jan. 17, and the group is looking to promote West Jefferson in the Raleigh-Durham area in the spring.
He also reported the town planning board will meet on Jan. 14, to continue drafting the new sign ordinance.
Planning Board Chairman John Reeves told the aldermen the board was working on the sign ordinance in hopes that it is not “too strict.”
The next regular meeting of the West Jefferson Aldermen will be held at the town hall at 6 p.m. Feb. 4.