Outgoing Wendell official leaves challenges for successors

jwhitfield@newsobserver.comNovember 29, 2013 

— Mayor Tim Hinnant didn’t want recognitions of outgoing town board members to be overshadowed as new board members get sworn in later this month, so he opted to recognize two board members whose terms will end Dec. 9 during their penultimate meeting.

What Hinnant may not have expected was a candid assessment of the state of Wendell from one of those outgoing commissioners.

At a meeting with little other business, Commissioner Christie Adams took an opportunity at the close of Monday’s meeting to review the priorities she started her board service with, including an effort to keep taxes and fees fair; ensure public safety; and working with other agencies to improve local schools, improve the downtown and support economic development.

In many areas, Adams said, those efforts fell short.

On keeping taxes and fees fair, Adams said the town succeeded in avoiding tax increases during her term, but she said that will eventually cause problems down the road.

“We’ve had very little increase, which is good. In the short term that’s good…. As a taxpayer, it’s really great, because it helps you every month, month to month. Long term, it’s gonna catch up. We’re gonna get to the point where we have to make up for some of the instances where we didn’t raise taxes and we didn’t raise fees as much as we should have,” Adams said.

She said it will be up to each individual taxpayer to be prepared for that.

“We’re all going to have to hope we’ve made enough personal progress to where we can make up for it because it eventually has to happen. It happens everywhere. It’s life,” she said.

Adams also called the town’s decision to end its relationship with the economic development firm of Holland Consulting and one of its subcontractors, Allison Platt the biggest misstep of her term in office.

That group was hired to help the town develop and implement an economic development growth plan, but the town later ended the contract after an incentives package was created, but no other projects had been completed.

Adams touted Platt’s work in revitalizing downtown Danville, Va., which she said took that city just two years to completely turn around its downtown.

“The moral of the story is that could have been us in a two-year time period. And it still could be us. Economic development is a huge priority of this board and will continue to be. I would encourage (the town) to bring someone on the caliber of Allison Platt to help with this,” Adams said.

Adams and Commissioner Ira Fuller were both recognized at Monday night’s meetings. Both were elected in 2009 and served one term. On Dec. 9, their seats will be filled by John Boyette and Jon Lutz.

Whitfield: 919-829-4823; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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