Frustration boiled over for Michael Walker and he let it be known at Monday’s Jonesville Town Council meeting just how he felt.
For a number of years, he has been in dispute with the municipality over taxes the town says he owes and which he says has been paid; were it not for the constant clerical errors and the (no pun intended) passing the buck, this situation would have been resolved a long time ago, according to Walker.
“I’m ready to go to court,” he said. “But for $400, it’s a joke.”
One of the problems Walker pointed to was how the money he paid has not been applied to the proper year.
“They say I owe for 2005, but I’ve got a check for 2005,” he said. “But I was told it was applied to 2003.”
Walker, of Boonville, who owns a number of properties in several nearby communities said he has had no problem with the other towns.
“But this is the only place I have a problem,” he said.
Walker elaborated on a meeting he had with town manager Scott Buffkin and town clerk Lynn Trivette, which he said Trivette walked out of before it was concluded.
Buffkin responded that a meeting had taken place in January or February, and that it had lasted approximately 45 minutes. He (Buffkin) said that nothing was resolved, that the meeting ended in a standstill.
Mayor LIndbergh Swaim apologized for the inconvenience Walker has had to endure, but said that at this point there was nothing the council could do, that because it had been turned over to the town’s attorney “it is out of the town’s hands.”
While the mayor was sympathetic, it was not sufficient to placate Walker, who said at this point it is not the principal but the principle.
Prior to the 7 p.m. start, a public hearing took place in which the flood prevention ordinance took place. After Buffkin explained the ordinance, he was questioned by councilman Gene Pardue if the ordinance was limited to the land by the river.
“It includes creeks,” said Buffkin.
The purpose of the ordinance, said Buffkin was not only to come into compliance with federal regulations.
“By adopting this ordinance, we are making all the owners eligible for flood insurance.
Later in Monday’s session, fire chief Keith Macy pressed for a burning ordinance to be adopted.
“The last two summers, the state forestry has issued a burning ordinance,” said Macy. “But towns are not required to observe.”
Macy said the ordinance he was proposing that when the state issued one, the town’s ordinance would also go into effect at the same time.
Macy added that the ordinance would also give the fire department and the police department some “teeth” in making sure it was obeyed, and gave an example of events from prior summers.
“Some things can’t be burned, only yard waste grown on the property,” he said. “What I’m seeing in town are people burning mattresses, couches.”
Currently, there is little he or any member of the fire department can do other than request the fire be extinguished. With the passage of the ordinance, the fire department would have the authority to extinguish the fire, whether the person who began it wanted it doused. The ordinance would also allow the police to issue citations.
The measure was unanimously passed.
Another matter of importance was raised by Tim Collins of the Water Service department: the need for a taller, heavier gauge chain link fence around the reservoir. The current height is 4-foot and holes have been cut in it, allowing children (some as young as 7 - 9 Collins estimated) to play around it. Collins said there are a number of spots that are dangerous and steep and said he would hate for someone to get hurt or worse.
In a police department report, Captain Roger Reece said that the effort to fight drugs in Jonesville was productive. He said several known drug houses had ceased to operate, in part because those residing there had moved out of town because of the crackdown.
In other business, the town council:
• Set the budget workshop for 8:30 a.m. May 7
• Appointed Amy Cave as tax collector
• Retained Jack L. Wilson, CPA, PLLC, of Mount Airy as the independent auditor for 2009 - 2010. Although the fee went up $200 from last year, it was still less than that charged by a previous firm several years ago.
• Unanimously approved two resolutions regarding small amounts of underpayments or overpayments; to not pursue underpayments or dole out refunds if the effort cost more than the collection or reimbursement.