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Tarboro requires agency heads to live in town

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BY JOHN H. WALKER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

TARBORO — An easy moving, almost sedate meeting of the Tarboro Town Council became lively following a 37-minute closed session when, during council comments, Ward 8 Councilman Garland Shepheard made a motion that would require any future department heads to live within the town limit.

The proposal sparked a half-hour discussion before passing 6-1 with one abstention. Only Ward 6 Councilwoman Deborah Jordan opposed the ordinance while Ward 1 Councilman Othar Woodard abstained.

The ordinance is effective immediately and does not affect any current department heads — a point Shepheard reiterated several times.

Jordan said she had a problem with the ordinance because it would require a family to move when a member took a department head's job.

"It's not our business, because the whole family doesn't work for the town. (It's) too much in someone's personal business."

But District 2's Leo Taylor said he agreed with Shepheard and referred to Rocky Mount, where the residency of Community and Business Development Department head Landis Faulcon was questioned for months as no local address was available and her vehicle still carried Virginia license plates.

"We don't want to be in a situation like Rocky Mount," he said. "As part of a job offer, we're not making anybody do anything. If you don't want to live in Tarboro, you don't have to accept the job."

Woodard said he understood Shepheard's position that a person living in Tarboro would be more dedicated, but added that to make it a requirement was going too far.

Ward 4's C.B. Brown said he had heard from citizens who have told me, 'We love to see department heads live in Tarboro'.

"Because they don't live here, they have no financial investment in the community."

Taylor added, "We need to hire the best qualified person with the expectation being that they move to the Town of Tarboro."

District 7's Sabrina Bynum said, "I agree that if a department head lives in town, they're more interested in the town. If I was a council member in Rocky Mount and lived in Tarboro, I wouldn't care (as much) about Rocky Mount."

Woodard asked about persons living just outside the town limit and Town Manager Troy Lewis suggested some sort of exemption for existing employees, citing several who live outside town, but could become a department head some day.

Town Attorney Chad Hinton suggested that the council's role is to set policy and they should allow staff to manage the policy.

In other action, the council:

■ Held a pair of public hearings on assessments for the demolition of buildings in the amount of $5,711.52 on 805 Bradley Ave. and $12,478.71 on 1201 Elm St. Both passed unanimously.

■ Heard that Tarboro was approved for $750,000 from the Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Revitalization program. Under the program, seven as-yet-to-be-determined houses will either be repaired or replaced. Property owners applied for the program and selection will be made following a scoring of the property's issues.

■ Heard that all corners in Tarboro, both on state and town streets, will be made ADA accessible through NCDOT. Federal monies will cover NCDOT roads while non-state maintained roads will be 80 percent covered with federal funds through NCDOT, The total cost of the non-state roads is $548,000 with Tarboro paying its $109,680 share from Powell Bull funds.

■ Authorized action in regards to a property at 400-402 E. Baker where the property owner had failed to meet a deadline to bring the policy up to standard. County set a 30-day timeframe.

■ Approved a proclamation regarding Arbor Day as part of the town's designation as a Tree City.

■ Appointed Jonathan Coltrane to the Parking Authority.

Earlier in the evening, Pitt proclaimed the month of March as Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and March 25 as Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day in Tarboro.

The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 8.

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