PINEHURST — The Village of Pinehurst Council met Tuesday, Sept. 12, with the meeting being the first for its new member.
To start the meeting, new council member Tom Hennie undertook the oath of office.
Hennie replaces the late Jane Hogeman, who passed away suddenly in July and will serve out the remainder of her term, which expires in November.
“We welcome Tom to the Village Council to fulfill the term of Jane Hogeman, and although that’s a period of only a couple of months, we know that your contribution here and interest in the Village is strong,” said Mayor John Strickland. “We look forward to your comments and participation in all of our decisions.”
Hennie was selected by unanimous vote at a special called meeting on August 21. He was one of four applicants, including Kevin Drum, Brandon Lankford and Brett Anthony.
“I just want to say that I am really, deeply honored and very grateful just to be here,” Hennie said. “Something totally unexpected fell in my lap, so I will do the best that I can for everyone. Thank you very much.”
The council also approved the appointment of Thomas Schroeder as the Chairperson to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The council also approved the updated statewide mutual aid agreement.
“The mutual aid system was developed following Hurricane Fran in 1996, at which time, there was no uniform agreement among North Carolina’s cities and counties so that they could help one another during and after a disaster,” said Fire Chief Carlton Cole. “With no policies and procedures to address those logistical concerns, deployment compensation and liability issues, intra-state cooperation was limited and inefficient.”
“By participating, it opens up avenues for us to have the ability to request specialized tools, equipment or personnel from jurisdictions,” Carlton said. “The Village currently participates in the agreement, and that agreement was updated by the State of North Carolina Emergency Management through feedback from county and municipal management partners. The most significant change to the agreement is the ability for us as a municipality to make a direct request for assistance such as specialized tools, equipment or personnel from other governmental entities during times of disaster or emergency. Previous versions of the agreement required that there be an emergency declared by the mayor for us to be able to make that request, and we also had to route it through the county to be able to get assistance.”
The council was also given an update on the Village’s FY 2023 financial statements for Q4.
“In FY23, we had a very favorable year,” said Financial Services Director Dana Van Nostrand. “We added $5.1 million to our general fund fund-balance, which even just out of our operating revenues and expenditures, we basically broke even. This year, where we had budgeted more capital with the anticipation of the $5 million of ARPA funds being received into the general fund, we still basically had enough tax and other revenues to cover the expenditures that we had.
“Therefore, that allowed us to add those funds from the ARPA funding. We were able to contribute $1 million to the library capital project fund and add to our fund balance. So we ended FY23 with over $20 million in our general fund fund-balance.”
According to Van Nostrand, the extra revenue can be attributed to reduced personnel costs.
“The primary reason is due to our personnel expenses,” Van Nostrand said. “So almost half of that, about $1 million, was unspent salaries and benefit funds. This is really related to lapsed salaries for vacant positions. Police and fire are the two largest contributors to that. While this is favorable financially, it’s not ideal operationally. This is not where we want to be seeing a massive amount of savings.”
Due to the higher revenues than projected, however, the Village is projected to have a bit more of a financial cushion for the upcoming years.
“In the original FY24 SOP, with what we had projected at the time, we were ending right at our policy minimum for fund balance, but now we are projected to end over 5% higher, which gives us a bit more cushion built into this plan which will be very helpful to execute our five-year plan,” Van Nostrand said.