Tryon council considers town’s financial future without annexation

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, December 10, 2009

by Jeff Byrd

The new Tryon Town Council will not likely vote on the annexation question at its first meeting next Tuesday.

If councilman Austin Chapman has his way, the Town Council will first undertake a full examination and understanding of the consequences of such a decision before a final vote.

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For his part, Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree said the annexation policy must be set by the board. Hembree and the town staff will work to implement whatever policy the council adopts, he said.

As for the towns financial future, however, Hembree said Mayor Peoples analysis seems correct to him.

We are seeing 1.25 percent growth per year in revenues, Hembree said. Inflation is outpacing that.

In the short term, it will have no impact. But in the long term, the town really has to make some strategic decisions: What level of services is it realistic for citizens to expect and what can the town offer?

Councilman-elect Wim Woody said in light of the current economy he thinks in future budgeting Tryon needs, to reevaluate everything. He suggested more businesses downtown might help the town budget and cutting back a bit on expenses might be necessary.

But Peoples said the town has already cut.

Weve cut everything I know we can cut, without going for services or more people, he said. The next thing would be to cut police officers or dispatch.

A county tax hike to replace those services would likely follow, Peoples said, and township residents would receive reduced service.

Councilman Jim Scott said city officials will likely see Tryon citizens up in arms when further service cuts are proposed. He contrasted this with the desire on the part of some to spend more money to improve downtown Tryon, and wondered how the two positions might be squared.

Arbogast, in his letter to Mayor Peoples, suggested that perhaps a utility tax or some sort of infrastructure tax might be adopted. But Peoples said the state places strict limits on what municipalities can tax.

Arbogast also suggested that the citizens in the areas surrounding Tryon might also offer ideas to help the town generate additional revenues and return in goodwill to the town fold to assist in bringing about a bright future for Tryon.

However, outgoing councilman Jim Scott, who lived through too much in recent years, doubted that. He said he saw no evidence that the CAFA organization cared at all about Tryon and its future.