Cary News

Morrisville puts historical records online

Morrisville’s budget and revenues from 1947.
Morrisville’s budget and revenues from 1947. TOWN OF MORRISVILLE

It cost $3,116 to run the town of Morrisville in 1947, and the town’s primary source of income was whiskey fees.

Morrisville has put thousands of town documents dating back more than half a century online, providing a glimpse of the town’s history. The Council Records Library, which went live in March, features meeting minutes, ordinances and resolutions.

The town was originally incorporated in 1875, but the charter was repealed in 1933. It became a town again in 1947.

“If you look at (the minutes), it gives you the perspective of what a small town was going through trying to establish themselves,” said Mayor Mark Stohlman. “It’s funny that they were struggling with some of the same things we are now – the railroad crossings and roads.”

Like today, the bulk of the town’s revenue was used for personnel and streets. Morrisville set aside $700 for streets and $900 for law enforcement and labor during the 1947 fiscal year.

Back then, the town’s first police officer was paid $50 a month. Later, his duties also included being the garbage collector. The town bought a pistol in 1949, a “38 special,” according to minutes.

A lot has changed in Morrisville since then. Meetings are no longer held in commissioners’ homes; now they take place at Town Hall.

And there’s a lot more money. The town’s annual budget is now about $26.5 million.

But some things haven’t changed so much in 67 years.

In 1947, the property tax rate was 30 cents per $100 valuation. Now the rate is 39 cents.

Public records more accessible

The records library started as part of the town’s goal to make documents more accessible and to increase efficiency for town staff, said Town Clerk Diana Davis.

“Number one, it’s searchable, and it’s not just the minutes,” she said. “It’s proclamations and resolutions as well.”

Three years ago, Davis helped worked with an intern to scan in the documents and backed them up with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ archives division. That way, the town’s historical records wouldn’t be lost forever if there was a fire or natural disaster.

Last summer, the Town Council approved a budget that included software upgrades that made it possible to make the scanned records available to the public, Davis said.

Before that, the town’s website consisted of meeting minutes dating back only to 1995. Workers will eventually merge the modern minutes with the archives.

Morrisville’s efforts to make its older records accessible to the public date back about eight years, Davis said.

Back then, the town planned to create a physical records library for people to page through. But when the economic recession hit, the plan was cut from the budget, she said.