Morrisville councilman Steve Diehl admits that he filled out a town survey about a possible bond referendum 12 times, but denies that he was trying to skew the results.
The online survey was meant to gauge public interest in issuing bonds to pay for parks, roads and recreation facilities. Diehl accounted for about 12 percent of the 101 responses.
Diehl said he believed there was a glitch with the online survey and that he kept submitting them because he never received a completed survey message.
Councilman Mark Stohlman initiated the investigation into the survey results when he noticed 12 nearly identical surveys had come from the same IP address. He said there was no glitch in the system.
Fellow councilman Michael Schlink said Diehls explanations left more questions than answers.
I dont understand how someone in a position of authority could submit 12 anonymous surveys ... (and) later call it a glitch without reporting it to someone at town hall as a problem, Schlink said. Residents and council members are not required to believe (Diehls) explanation or abandon common sense.
Of those who filled out the survey, 36 percent, including Diehl, said they would be willing to support a $20 million bond, while another 37 percent said they would support a bond for as much funding as needed. The 101 responses represented a tiny fraction of the towns 20,000 residents.
The council is expected to vote June 26 on whether to move forward on a $20 million bond referendum.
Durham councilman gets unidentified bill
Once in a while, elected officials get to see government like a plain old citizen does. It happened to Durham councilman Steve Schewel this week.
Schewel, like a lot of his constituents, got a bill for $60 from the solid waste department, the annual charge for the city to pick up leaves and other yard waste.
But Schewel noticed that nowhere did the bill state what good or service it was for: just a cryptic YWA. And there was an instruction to mail the bill with payment so that the return address shows in the envelope window. But there was no envelope, much less a window.
There also were instructions that the bill could be paid by credit card, to a Web address that was hard to read because it was printed over another block of text. Schewel tried to pay online, but found no way to do it, so he called the city hotline only to be told the bill was wrong and it couldnt be paid online after all.
Following proper procedure, Schewel notified Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield, who notified Donald Long, the citys Solid Waste director, who checked with the finance department and notified Schewel, We are going to have a total review. ... Fixes will be applied to next years bills.
Little ruckus over Raleigh budget
As the Raleigh City Council prepares to vote on the citys $679 million budget Monday, there has been no big outcry from the public.
Thats a contrast to last year, when arts groups protested a proposed funding cut in support for the arts. That money was restored before the budget was approved.
Council members may put a transportation bond on the fall ballot for the second straight year. Adding a penny to the tax rate would get you $45 to $50 million, City Manager Russell Allen said in the last budget work session.
The city has a long list of roads in need of repair, and council members Russ Stephenson, Randy Stagner and Mary-Ann Baldwin said a bond might be the best way to replenish the depleted capital budget.
As the Wake county and school budget discussions neared an end this week, commissioner Tony Gurley continued to question the schools practice of building a fund balance each year to stay ahead of emergencies.
How can we consider a request when we know its been padded to build up the fund balance? Gurley asked at a commission work session on the budget.
Responded County Manager David Cooke: I dont know how to respond to that.
Said Gurley: Amen! would be a good response.
At issue was $8 million that state House budget planners have said wont have to be returned to the state. Should that happen, Cooke said, the school board would have to submit a new budget to commissioners for approval.
• Alexandria Sirota of the N.C. Justice Center will speak about the state budget, revenues and tax reform at a meeting of Wake County Senior Democrats Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue. A Dutch lunch will begin at 11 a.m. with the program to follow. The meeting is open to the public.
Compiled by Aliana Ramos, Jim Wise, Matt Garfield and Thomas Goldsmith.
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