“What are the most important issues, needs and opportunities facing the town of Wadesboro over the next three to five years?”
David Long, a moderator, asked the Wadesboro town council that question during the board’s annual planning retreat on Feb. 18.
Each councilman verbally contributed to the list, which Long wrote on large sheets of Post-it easel pads. Town manager Alex Sewell then stuck each sheet to the wall, creating a line of papers down the wall of the Carolinas HealthCare System-Anson meeting room the board met in.
Making updates to the town’s water line, performing street maintenance, ensuring future employee health insurance affordability and beautifying the uptown area were among the list of possible priorities until the board had come up with a total of 37.
Each councilman then took nine index cards and picked their top nine priorities, giving the lowest one point up until giving the top priority nine points. They turned their cards with their picks in anonymously.
Long and Sewell then used the cards to tally the points. Buying a new fire truck and lowering the insurance service office rating was the top priority with 40 points. The insurance rating, or ISO rating, is a score assigned based on data collected by the Insurance Service Office and includes information on fire departments. The rating can affect homeowner insurance rates.
The second-highest priority was ensuring the affordability of future employee health insurance. The council gave it 23 points.
Next was performing street maintenance, with 22 points. Buying a limb truck was the fourth priority with 17 points. Operating within the budget with no tax increases was the fifth priority with 13 points.
Maintaining good employee benefits had 12 points. Replacing the Burns Street bridge and making the current fire department into a town meeting facility when a new fire department is built tied for the seventh priorities with nine points each.
The town is looking at ways to pay for its top priority, a new fire truck. Sewell and Chief Marc Sessions said they will look for grants, but that they are hard to get. The council also discussed financing the truck or selling City Pond to make the money.
Sewell said that while the dam’s inspection letter did list some maintenance that the dam needs, the potential new owner should assume liability but that, “as far as we know, there is no imminent threat within the next five years.”
The town is waiting to hear back from the state about its dam emergency action plan.
Sewell said he will look at the state health insurance options and present the information to the council at its March meeting to pursue the council’s second goal of keeping affordable health insurance for its employees.
Councilman James David Lee suggested that the council meet its third goal of performing street maintenance in small sections rather than all at once in order to be most effective and keep within the budget. The town has a paving priority list the council set prior to the retreat.
John Marek, director of the Anson Economic Development Partnership, spoke to the council about his projections for the county economically. He estimated that the Monroe bypass will mostly affect the Peachland and possibly Polkton area, but have little affect on Wadesboro. He also thought the U.S. Highway 74 corridor would have a “profound” effect near Lilesville.
He also said he believes Anson has a skilled workforce that commutes outside the county for jobs, but that most would likely welcome the opportunity to work closer to home if businesses move to Anson, filling in immediate employee gaps.
Marek said he has identified several sites he hopes to market to various industries according to their attributes, and that one the town owns is on the list. He also asked the council to create an incentive policy for businesses similar to what the county created in order to make the area more attractive to potential businesses.
The town will hold its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m. March 6.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.