OMG! As the teenage daughter of my dear friend would say. Apparently during the 2016 Planning Conference while at Ocean Isle Beach on Sunday February 28, 2016 @ 8:00 am it was discussed to increase the Technology Allowance by $100.00. You will not find any detailed written notes (not surprising) just one simple sentence that refer’s to the increase “Board Meets with Manager – The Board met with Mr. Blodgett to discuss various issues.” During the August 8, 2016 Board of Commissioners meeting a follow-up to the 2016 Planning Conference ‘To Do List’ was presented and approved. Within this ‘To Do List’ is the listing of the increase and if you blink your eye’s you will miss it. According to Town Manager Hazen Blodgett and Town Clerk Lori Canapinno the increase was first requested by Commissioner Jeff Miller. In email on August 31, 2016 Commissioner Miller was asked “With so many residents feeling the Technology Allowance is a misuse of taxpayer funds, why did you request and feel there should be a increase of $100?” Commissioner Miller responded with ” I don’t think that ‘so many residents’ feel that way, but it was done for budgeting reasons. $3600 divided by 24 months =150 per month even, not 145.83. This is a difference of $4.17 per month.” All Commissioners and the Mayor are receiving the increase so in reality the total comes to $29.17 a month, 700.00 divided by 24 = $29.17. I am a believer in ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ if this was done for budgeting reasons by trying to make the amount even then why not decrease the amount to $3,000.00 per term. This then would only be 125.00 per month a savings of $3,500.00. Isn’t it funny how changes are always in favor of the council members not the citizens. According to information I have received, our Fire Department is in desperate need of a new computer, the vent system that removes the sooty exhaust from the trucks which keeps it out of the station is in disrepair, our Police Department has one of the highest turnover rates for officers due to insufficient income. If the Town continues to see the same turnover rate for the rest of this year the Town will experience a 25.7% overall turnover rate by the end of the year. This will not only be higher than national averages but significantly higher than the Town has experienced in recent years. This council’s first concern should be taking care of our first responders not raising their Technology Allowance and discussing who may travel to St. Maxime, France to improve relationships.
What is important to understand is that the increase does not fall upon Commissioner Miller’s shoulders alone. This had to be agreed and voted upon by all current council members. During the election Commissioner John Ross listed “Conservative fiscal policy” as one of his three most important issues that Matthews is currently facing. Hmmmm, I’ll just let you ponder on that.
Below is the Technology Allowance statement that is currently listed on the town website. Out of curiosity….would you know from reading they currently receive $3,600.00? Would you know all items purchased become their personal property? Would you know they can purchase two computers in one term? Yes, Commissioner Chris Melton has done this and then criticized the citizenry for not attending the Planning Conference meetings. If the $100.00 increase is such a small amount, not a big deal, then why all the secrecy? Why not disclose all that was discussed during the planning conference to the citizens? We’re flipping the bill. So much for transparency.
“TECHNOLOGY ALLOWANCE TOWN OF MATTHEWS BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS Each year, in conjunction with the adoption of the budget, the Board of Commissioners shall appropriate a technology allowance for each Commissioner. The technology allowance is for the purpose of acquiring computer hardware, software, communications equipment and services and related equipment and related training to assist the Board of Commissioners in fulfilling their duties by enhancing communication and information processing with each other, staff and constituents. The technology allowance shall not be used for paper shredders, office equipment, office furniture, etc. All technology related items will be reimbursed upon approval by the Town Board. Receipts will need to be submitted for reimbursement. Any unused funds can be transferred from one Board member to another if agreed upon by both parties. Adopted November 28, 2005”
I have been asked many times ‘who and how much has been spent’ and ‘what has the mayor purchased sense in office”? So far, Commissioner Melton and Commissioner Whitley have turned in receipts for refund. We are unable to know who and how much until the Commissioners or Mayor request a refund by submitting receipts for approval by the council. Mayor Taylor normally waits until the end of each term. This falls in December and with people busy with Christmas and family it is normally over looked and is a good way to keep it off the radar in my view.
Instead of telling you what Mayor Jim Taylor has purchased below are the receipts submitted for refund for the past three terms.
So, if you are wondering what surrounding town’s are doing, here you go.
Huntersville – Elected officials receive a Technology Allowance of $150.00 per quarter (three months). They may use it on their cell phone bill, internet service….whatever technology they may use to conduct town business.
Indian Trail – Mayor and Council members do not receive any Technology Allowance. However, I-pads are purchased by the town for their use while serving, when no longer serving the I-pads have to be turned back in.
Mint Hill – Elected officials are provided with a Technology Allowance of $100.00 per month to use toward cell phone service and internet service.
Apex – The Mayor or the Council members do not receive a Technology Allowance.
Statesville – The Mayor or the Council members do not receive a Technology Allowance.
Monroe – Elected officials receive an internet stipend of $45.00 per month and they receive a I-pad to use during their term of office. However, at the end of the Mayor’s or Council member’s service, they are given the option of purchasing the I-pad.
Stallings – The Mayor and Council members do not receive a Technology Allowance.
Please remember to vote next month. October 20th is the beginning of one-stop early voting and ends on November 5th. Election Day is November 8th. Polls open @ 6:30 a.m. and close 7:30 p.m. Want to learn more about the candidates? www.ncsbe.gov
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