Town board retreats are interesting opportunities to gain new perspectives on people. Wendell's town board held a retreat last week and topping the list of issues to discuss was the town's difficulty meeting its payback obligations to Raleigh as part of the water and sewer merger between Wendell and Raleigh.
Commissioner Buddy Scarboro listened to the presentation from the City of Raleigh, sat up straight in his chair and started asking questions about the payback options and how the payback schedule was established in the first place.
If you've ever heard a presentation from the City of Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, you know it can get long and confusing, even when former Zebulon Public Works Director Kenny Waldroup is doing the explaining.
But Scarboro was at the top of his game. His questions were short and to the point. They were lead-ins for the rest of the board to consider options for dealing with the shortfall.
The shortfall is the result of several issues:
1. Larger than anticipated rate increases by Raleigh which ate up money the town of Wendell was using to pay off its debt.
2. Slower than anticipated growth. Wendell Falls was projected to be building houses by now. They aren't, so there isn't as much water being sold.
3. The drought of 2007 which forced people to conserve, a habit they haven't entirely broken.
The town has several options and Scarboro's questions will help commissioners wade through them all. It was clear Scarboro had done his homework. Scarboro pointed out last night that he was on the board when the merger negotiations took place, so he had some experience and insight that many other members of the board and staff did not have. That'll be an asset for the town as it tries to figure out how to handle a costly problem.