Mocksville board members learn about town operations
Published 9:48 am Thursday, December 30, 2021
By Mike Barnhardt
Mocksville Town Board members shouldn’t be expected to agree on all issues.
They should vote and move on as a board.
“When you make a board decision, it’s the whole board,” Town Manager Ken Gamble told board members at an orientation session earlier this month. “It’s never me against them. Disagreements have to be solved here at this table by a majority vote.”
Gamble explained the council/manager form of government in Mocksville, where he is in charge of day-to-day operations and board members give vision, set the budget and decide on rezoning requests, ordinances and fees.
The board hires three people – the manager, the clerk and the attorney. The manager is in charge of all other personnel decisions.
“I’m responsible for all of the details. If you have a question, ask it. Staff is here for that. We have engineers and lawyers … you’re not expected to know everything. We have an excellent staff. Help us make you look good,” Gamble said.
He suggested that board members hold quarterly socials where they get together to get to know one another and conduct no town business.
Town Attorney Al Benshoff warned board members that any time they talk about town business, whether on the street, at home or in town hall, those conversations are public record.
“They belong to the people of North Carolina,” he said of the public records. “We can’t play games. When we are asked (to provide those records) we have to turn them over.”
He also said that if more than two board members ever meet, notices must be sent about the meeting, especially if town business is even slightly mentioned.
The session included reports from each town department manager.
• Town Clerk Lynn Trivette praised Gamble, saying he is more of a leader than a manager. That comment brought applause from other department heads.
“This town is going to see nothing but positive things,” Trivette said.
• Chuck Willis has provided engineering services for public works for some 13 years.
“One of the things I like about working in Mocksville is you get things done,” Willis said, adding that the town’s aging water and sewer systems will require some major expenses in coming years. “It’s the most cooperative environment we’ve ever had as far as town and county cooperation goes.”
• Public works director, Brian Moore, said the town has 78 miles of gravity fed sewer lines and some 34 miles of street it has to maintain. The 11 employees stay busy at all times of the day and night making repairs to the water and sewer distribution systems, and also handle things such as erecting flags for special events.
• Tami Langdon, community development coordinator and head of the Mocksville tourism committee and Historic Davie, said monies from hotel taxes are used to promote the town.
She said downtown Mocksville has changed drastically over the past eight or so years, with younger people establishing businesses here. She works with downtown businesses “to hear what their concerns are,” she said.
• Rustin Harpe oversees the parks and recreation department, which is also in charge of maintaining Rose Cemetery.
• Fire Chief Frank Carter said the board needs to be prepared for the day when the department is entirely paid.
“The volunteer fire service is dying a slow, painful death,” Carter said.
Mocksville employees 17 part-time firefighters, and has 14 volunteers. The biggest issue, Carter said, is scheduling those volunteers, almost all of whom work full-time at another fire department. Because of that, they can only be scheduled for a certain number of hours. “Staffing, that’s our biggest issue.” Firefighters are paid $12.36 per hour.