Wadesboro Town Manager John Witherspoon will retire next month.
He announced his retirement at the Town Council meeting Monday.
Witherspoon has been town manager for nine years. He talked about his career and accomplishments he was proud of in a brief statement at the meeting.
He was hired to rectify deficits in the general and water and sewer funds, which he said could have led to a “major disaster.”
He said property was overvalued. He recommended raising taxes and cutting positions to fix the roughly $750,000 deficit. “I didn’t intend to stay but I did,” he said.
The town’s fund balance eventually rose to $2 million. He pointed to the straightening of “the curve” on U.S. 74, as well as the construction of Little Park as accomplishments.
He said he was proud of the improvements to a “neglected” water and sewer system and the town’s avoidance of an expensive water plant “saving a lot of money.”
Witherspoon said the town had improved water quality and was working hard to eliminate the manganese that discolors the town’s water.
With the economy tightening in recent years and funds becoming scarcer, the town directed staff to target income tax returns for money owed on delinquent water bills. The town recovered $44,000 using this method.
“We have a great staff here,” he said, singling out Town Clerk Nancy Huntley and Public Services director Hugh James for praise. He also called the police and fire departments “great.”
“People here are wonderful people,” he said.
Mayor Bill Thacker thanked him for his service. Former Mayor Lynn Horton spoke as well.
“We had a lot of issues [when he was hired],” she said. She called him “a leader,” “trustworthy” and said his “integrity was beyond reproach.”
Afterward, the crowd at the meeting gave him a standing ovation.
In other business at the meeting, the council approved a higher tax on Internet cafes.
“Maybe we could make some revenue off of them while they are here,” Witherspoon said. He proposed a tax of $350 per machine. He said this was lower than other municipalities and gave examples, like Fayetteville charging $2,000 per location and $2,500 per machine. Wadesboro charges $25 per location.
He said this would raise roughly $50,000.
Councilman Fred Davis said he would like to maximize revenue from the cafes while Councilman Bobby Usrey said he wanted to be realistic.
Usrey moved to adopt the $350 per machine rate. Davis moved to substitute a $500 rate. The motion was substituted.
Davis, Councilman John Ballard and Councilman Jeremy Burr voted for the $500 rate. Usrey and Councilman James David Lee voted against it. The new $500 per machine rate will take effect July 1. The tax per location will remain the same at $25.
The council approved the demolition of a home at 507 Astor St. after notifications were sent and procedures were followed. Nobody responded to the notification. Witherspoon described the home as in “really bad, terrible condition.”
The council recessed until June 7 to discuss the budget. They will meet at 5 p.m.