Aberdeen discusses using American Recovery Funds help homeless

The Town of Aberdeen’s April 12 work session included a discussion on using the American Rescue Plan Act funds to support the homeless. The town council work session also covered the draft budget, goals for empowering the town, golf cart regulations, and held public hearings to include relocating easements.

Draft Budget for 2021-22 Approved and had no Significant Rate Increases

Purchasing housing for the homeless was suggested by Town Commissioner Teresa Beavers. She said they should use the American Rescue Plan Act funds and wants the town to commit. She hopes that other towns will see their philanthropy and help in their towns.

“It would be the first year we’re actually supporting them in some way,” Beavers said.

“Maybe able to spend more than what you think tonight,” Mayor Robert Farrell said.

The board will vote on appropriating funds for the homeless in May after the U.S. Treasury Department clarifies how American Rescue Plan Act funds may be used.

Town Manager Paul Sabiston said a big factor in creating the draft budget was the American Rescue Plan Act due to the coronavirus pandemic. Aberdeen will receive $2.34 million over 14 months.

“We have relied on those funds in this budget,” Sabiston said.

The draft budget does not want to overspend based on those funds because the U.S. Treasury Department has not made final statements on how the funds may be used.

Under the budget discussion, Police Chief Carl Colasacco said they need to hire one police officer. Colasacco also stated attaining ammunition was almost impossible. He said they had a small surplus but to maintain state standards each day, he researches possible outlets.

Fire Chief Phillip Richardson said the three needed firefighters will be partly funded by grants, including stimulus grants. He said he applied for the Safer Grant and has received it twice in the past 10 years.

“It’s the only way we’ve got new personnel in the past and then we maintain them,” Richardson said.

The fire truck delivery has been pushed back until August, and they will not have to make the first payment until 2023, so the budget will not show the fire truck.

The planning department expects to hire a full-time landscaper at a cost of $38,000.

To be more cost-effective, the parks and recreation department plans to move from official sports coaches to more part-time staff for the younger sports where official coaches are not required. It plans to request a park maintenance person at $27,000.

The General Fund is $318,000 over budget due to seven new full-time staff members and a 38% healthcare insurance increase. 

The Water/Sewer Fund is under budget by $22,086 in excess revenues.

Strategic Plan, Goals and Objectives for 2021-23

The board’s discussion on the strategies of accomplishing goals, which included building or acquiring an indoor sports center, adding parks and improving existing parks, was approved.

A main goal is maintaining beautification to attract new residents and businesses. This goal includes improving economic growth with a strategy that includes adding retail spaces with living quarters above.

The board agreed to continue working with other towns to benefit Aberdeen and to grow citizen participation as volunteers and members of committees.

The town plans to work toward community participation in the Fourth of July, Christmas Parade, Reindeer Fun Run and other Aberdeen events.

Continued safety inspections, utility upgrades and evaluating new technologies are strategies for improving public services and public safety goals.

The board also plans to establish a digital record of town events for historical preservation.

Public Hearings

During the public hearing, a background on the golf cart ordinance was included. The ordinance for golf carts in Legacy Lakes subdivision was approved 10 years ago. The ordinance allowed golf carts on their existing streets, but since the ordinance was approved, seven new roads have been added.

Planning Director Justin Westbrook recommended the new streets be added and that upcoming streets be included, and the board agreed.

Golf carts may now be driven by licensed drivers on the following streets with a speed limit of 35 or under:

*Baden Court (new)

*Fontana Lake Road (new)

*Hyco Road (new)

*Kerr Lake Road

*Keowee Circle

*Lake Lure Lane (new)

*Leesville Loop

*Legacy Lakes Way

*Michie Place

*Moultrie Lane

*Norman Circle

*Oconee Lake Way (new)

*Salters Lane (new)

*Tillery Drive (new)

*Tippecanoe Place

*Warren Lake Road

Page 38 of Aberdeen’s ordinances on golf cart regulations includes the list of safety regulations on driving golf carts on public streets. It is important to know the regulations because drivers can be ticketed and fined for not obeying the regulations.

Public Works Director Harold Watts recommended the Duke Energy Easement Relocation along Roseland Road, and the board approved. There is no cost to the town to move the easement and add poles, and the property will be better suited for development with the new power line easement.

The Duke Energy representative said that adding the poles will save the town money later if they decide to add streetlights at the intersection of Roseland Road and Seymour Street and at Dogwood Street and Roseland Road.

Under the Consent Agenda

Westbrook recommended replacing Bill Prevatte, who resigned from the planning board, with a member of the existing team. He said that it was best management practices to replace from within and that they had two alternates who were well-versed in operations.

Prevatte was sworn in January 2016.

“Bill’s been a faithful member of the planning board for a number of years … and I hate to see him leave,” Farrell said.

File photo from October 2020: Matthew and Stephanie are part of a growing population of homeless in Moore County ~Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers.

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