On February 25th thru 28th the Board of Commissioners held their annual Planning Conference. Two days were spent at the Town Hall and two at Ocean Isle Beach North Carolina. I do agree the Planning Conference meeting is necessary but respectfully disagree on a two night stay in a 5,000 square foot beachfront home. A total of twelve attended the Ocean Isle meeting and it included Mayor Jim Taylor; Mayor Pro Tem John Higdon; Commissioners Chris Melton; Jeff Miller; John Ross; John Urban and Larry Whitley, Town Attorney Charles Buckley, Town Manager Hazen Blodgett, Assistant Town Manager Becky Hawke, Town Clerk Lori Canapinno and Communications Director Jen Thompson.
On Friday February 26th during the Planning Conference it is noted that Commissioner Melton stated – “CM – he applauds the board and committee members who are here today but it seems clear to him that the ppl who complain about going out of town/not making it convenient for citizens to attend aren’t even here. He will continue to say that argument is invalid but he thanks those folks who are actively here.” I think someone’s been drinking the Kool-Aid. Even during the 2014 Special Meeting Commissioner Melton is noted as saying “CM – this meeting was fully advertised and no public showed. Indicates going out of town wouldn’t negatively affect the public”
2014 Special Planning Conference meeting – Chris Melton **to see all notes please see bottom of page**
When I read or hear statements such as these I really have to ask myself, do they even care?Do they even understand? This is not about anyone attending, this is about responsible government. This is about the abuse of taxpayer dollars for a two night stay in a 5,000 square foot beachfront home to discuss on Saturday the town’s Strategic Plan, Lunch, Consider Items Remaining from the 2015 Planning Conference, Making MLK a town holiday, Discuss Legislative update, Open Discussion then dinner. Sundays agenda consisted of Meeting with Town Manager, Other Topics from Commissioners, Recap, Adjournment. Really? This could not be discussed here in Matthews saving the citizens over $5,775.00? The amount spent for the two days spent at the Town Hall was $1,123.88. I found Commissioner Melton’s statement to be very arrogant so I questioned him via e-mail on his comment. “Commissioner Melton, I find it very arrogant to attack and criticize the citizenry because they are working to feed/cloth their families, put a roof over their head and to pay the taxes that you have voted to increase. When the Planning Conference is held during normal business hours how are they able to attend? I think it is not so much the citizens attending it is the fact that you feel you have every right to use taxpayer dollars totaling $5,352.22 for a two day weekend beach retreat. When you and the council members are dinning on $28.95 Surf and Turf, $21.95 Prime Rib, $27.95 Stripped Sea Bass and $29.92 Filet there are families struggling and wondering if their taxes are going to be increased again. I wonder how many families in Matthews are not even able to have a vacation because they are unable to afford it. So, please help me to understand why you feel spending $6,693.18 of taxpayer dollars was money well spent.” Commissioner Chris Melton has not responded.
This is a public meeting and there are many citizens who feel this is an inappropriate use of tax dollars. Below are the 2016 Planning Conference notes and receipts, read them and decide if spending $6,899.06 of taxpayer dollars for food and a two day weekend retreat was money well spent. The way I see it is, Six Thousand Eight Hundred Ninty-nine dollars that could have been used for the Matthews Help Center or Matthews Free Health Clinic, but that’s just my opinion.
FYI – amount spent in 2015 for Planning Conference $5,646.93 plus $2,069.80 for facilitation services of Margaret Carlson bringing total to $7,716.73 2015 Planning Conference Receipts
Amount spent in 2014 for Planning Conference $7,037.64 2014 Planning Conference Receipts
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