The year-end audit, a concerned citizen asking to promote substance abuse treatment and this year’s Christmas lighting ceremony were discussed at this month’s Board of Alderman meeting in Old Fort.
During Monday’s meeting, Leslie Sigmon of Lowdermilk Church & Co. presented the board with the financial highlights of the fiscal 2017 year. Total cash and investments in the General Fund totaled $1,807,860, down $2,874 from the previous year. The fund balance was totaled at $1,842,154, a $27,400 increase from $1,814,734 last year, while total expenditures increased this year to $856,332.
The percent of taxes collected this year was 98.95 percent, an increase from last year’s 98.79.
“The state average is 99.02 percent, so you’re right there with that,” said Sigmon. “For towns your size, the average is normally 96, so you’re better than comparable towns your size.”
In the Enterprise Fund, cash and investments increased from $751,777 last year to $781,240. This year’s net income loss was $33,562, substantially better than 2016’s loss of $77,195.
“You had a loss, but it was a better loss,” said Sigmon.
Overally, Sigmon said that there were good improvements this year and didn’t find any issues.
Among other topics discussed, Crystal Allen, a concerned Crooked Creek citizen, addressed the aldermen about a drug and mental health recovery issue facing Old Fort and surrounding communities.
“There is nothing in town that is made available for citizens of Old Fort, especially those in rural areas,” said Allen. “We do not have access to literature or pamphlets or anything that’s available.”
Her request to the board was to spread the contact information for Vaya Health in Asheville to those in the community who need to seek help, through pamphlets, business cards and an awareness vehicle in this year’s Old Fort Christmas parade on Dec. 9.
“With this, I don’t want it to be pointing the finger at somebody. I’m not saying that doesn’t work – the crime and the time and that whole thing – but there’s also got to be a balance,” said Allen. “I can’t stop you from doing what you’re doing, but I have a number here that when you’re ready, let’s call them together or you call them when you feel ready.”
“I would suggest talking to the doctors’ offices here at Missions Hospital and Family Care,” said Alderman Andrew Carlton, who also suggested providing pamphlets and information to faith-based groups in town.
Mayor Rick Hensley also recommended the space on the inside lobby of the town hall and the police department be used to hold pamphlets, particularly so Old Fort P.D. officers would be able to carry them in their vehicles for appropriate circumstances.
The 24/7 access hotline for Vaya Health can be reached at 1-800-849-6127.
In other business:
• In public comments, Hensley congratulated aldermen Wayne Strickland and Melvin Lytle Jr. for their re-election to the board, who in turn congratulated the mayor for his re-election this year.
• In addition, Hensley gave thanks to Willie Hutchinson for working on the brick planning in time for the Old Fort Christmas parade, as well as everyone who was involved the Christmas lighting ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 18.
• The Old Fort Christmas Parade will be held on Dec. 9 on Catawba Avenue. Line-up starts at 2 p.m., the parade starts at 3 p.m.
• The aldermen held a meeting at the depot on Monday earlier in the day to meet with Emily Roberts, McDowell County Catalyst Coordinator for Healthy Eating and Active Living, and Bounty & Soul in order to coordinate a time and place to hand out free food and produce to the community.
There will not be a Board of Aldermen meeting in December. The date for the next meeting in Jan. 2018 is to be determined.