HAMLET – Discussion concerning possible politicking at the Seaboard Festival stirred up Hamlet City Council’s monthly meeting Tuesday.
The meeting was held in the chamber of the administration building at 201 Main Street, as five of the six members were present. Mayor Bill Bayless called the session to order.
The primary issue of the evening (at least in regard to amount of time) was related (albeit indirectly) to the Seaboard Festival and certain actions that transpired at some point during that event.
Specifically, it was alleged that one or more members of the Seaboard Day Festival Committee, a non-profit 501-C3 tax exempt (and thus apolitical) organization, may have conducted (inadvertently or otherwise) some form of political activism or campaigning in conjunction with the initial opening ceremonies of the Festival.
Discussion of the nuances and technicalities of what exactly constitutes a “political action” notwithstanding, the ultimate decision was to motion for a draft a request to the Internal Revenue Service – ostensibly as a means of separating the City of Hamlet from the action(s) of interest – for its interpretation of the situation and, at most, the issuance of a warning if indeed any degree of inappropriate activity is identified.
The RO will continue to monitor the situation and report on it as new details emerge.
In other news, consideration for a contract for maintenance of Raleigh and Charlotte streets was discussed, as was a continuation of last month’s focus on the establishment of a lowered speed limit near the intersection of 177 South/Marlboro Road and Battley Dairy Road.
Councilman Jonathan Buie reiterated the need for an extension of the 35 MPH zone, “at least another 50 yards” as a means of ensuring that truckers entering the city would not need to apply the noisy compression brakes in that residential area.
It was noted by the city attorney that a request to the State Department of Transportation would be in order; such was so moved and subsequently approved by the Council.
An issue was noted in regard to signage and, in respect to a recent court ruling, how the City addresses the regulation of such. Citing a recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court, discussion followed as to the details of such and exactly how it might affect and apply to Hamlet signage regulations.
Noting the difference between “temporary” items (e.g., political signs, yard sale notices, etc.) and permanent signage (e.g., business billboards, directional signs, etc.), it was determined that minimal concern was necessary in regard to the Court’s ruling that “content” could not be a consideration in making determinations about the specific placement or duration of stay for any particular sign.
A series of items followed. Two rezoning requests were submitted and quickly approved, after which budget amendments were adopted and an approval of tax releases was confirmed.
The “Jacksonville Project” (restored railroad car of some distinction that may be coming to Hamlet as a showpiece) discussion continued and will be carried forward into the next meeting in December.
Another area of interest was a review and clarification regarding the specific actions of individual members of the Council and how such might relate to the day-to-day activities of the city’s operations.
Councilman Jesse McQueen had requested that “a re-evaluation of policy” be conducted; in response to such it was reiterated in no uncertain terms that the “council/manager” form of government that is utilized by the City of Hamlet allows for the city manager to direct and oversee that which falls under the purview of his position (i.e., daily city operations).
It was also noted that the City Council acts as a unified body rather than a coalition of individuals and is thus prohibited from allowing any single member or members of this elected body from exercising undue influence on any aspect of activity which normally falls under the city manager’s authority.
Two proclamations were issued by Bayless: on behalf of the City of Hamlet, the mayor officially recognized November as National Palliative Care Month, as well as National Alzheimer’s Month.
Council members’ comments focused upon their appreciation for having been re-elected (Bayless, McQueen and Martin) to their respective posts.
“I am privileged to serve the people of Hamlet,” said Bayless. “And certainly look forward to working with the Council to make our city the best it can be.”
The final note of the evening was directed toward the voters themselves. Reflecting upon the fact that less than 10 percent of Hamlet’s registered voters actually exercised that right in the last local election, the need to entice citizens to do so in the future was emphasized by several members of the council in their individual commentary.