After each meeting of the Kings Mountain City Council, we are going to create a report card to share with the community what went on in the meeting and how your elected representatives are performing.
This week’s meeting, on June 8th, was a Work Session – a meeting recently implemented by our new City Manager to encourage much-needed debate and discussion of issues and decisions. The last several Council meetings have been civilized, positive, functional, and productive. Kudos to the City Manager for showing Kings Mountain how to work together in a transparent environment to get things done for citizens.
Topics Of This Meeting
- The 2023-24 Budget for the city, which included spending priorities as well as changes and hikes to several taxes and fees
- The presentation of KM Forward Inc, a non-profit collection of business and community leaders that will manage business and private sector initiatives regarding business promotion and downtown redevelopment and standards, as well as represent the wider KM business community’s needs and interests
- Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) changes that streamline the submission and approval of site plans and engineered drawings for proposed developments
Councilwoman Annie Thombs – A+
The shortest tenured council member exhibited the strongest leadership, the strongest backbone, and the character traits that we all desire in our elected representatives. She rose to the occasion and the challenge of her role, spoke eloquently and passionately about the budget and the impending tax hike, and showed a mastery of the issues at hand. Tough decisions take intestinal fortitude – and it clear that Ms. Thombs has the courage and the conviction to do what is best for our community. Well done, all around.
Councilman Tommy Hawkins – B+
Councilman Hawkins has come out of his shell the last few meetings, and he has spoken from the heart. His passion for this City and its citizens is clear. He acknowledged the failings of past councils and his determination to correct mistakes they have mad. He took an early vocal stand in support of the new City Manager, despite pressure to “go along to get along.” He spoke in favor of working with KM Forward to advance the KM business community and local economy, as what the City has been doing the past twenty years obviously has not worked.
Councilman Keith Miller – B
As one of the longest tenured Council members, he was able to offer a comparison of the 2006 budget to the 2023 version. While interesting and relevant, it does raise the question of where he was during the years of financial mismanagement by the previous City Manager. Nonetheless, his input was valuable and based on extensive research and experience. This grade would have been slightly higher had it not been for the long-winded nature of his remarks.
Councilman David Allen – B
Councilman Allen’s remarks were short, direct and to the point. With extensive experience regarding planning and zoning, he spoke from a positive of knowledge regarding the UDO amendment to shorten the review process and leave it in the hands of the professionals. He correctly stated that politicians need to get out of the way and let professional staff do their jobs. This sentiment needs to be heard continually.
Councilman Jimmy West – B
Councilman West’s internal debate regarding the tax and fee increases was obvious. It’s a tough decision, as he said. Regardless of his vote on the budget, Councilman West acknowledged the need for righting the financial ship and correctly pointed to past City Management and Councils as the source for many of the City’s problems. The gravity of the financial situation that Kings Mountain faces is clearly not lost on him. His concern was not so much for citizens who simply don’t want to see their taxes go up slightly, but for those who can’t afford it. His courage and convictions in his comments – and his vote – were clear. He also spoke up to support streamlining the development process, noting the community need for housing. We are continually impressed – and grateful – for Councilman West’s ability to speak his independent mind and make the decisions he feels are right for his constituents.
Mayor Scott Neisler – F
Where every member of the Council correctly acknowledge the gravity of the City’s financial situation, it is clear that Mayor Neisler either does not care or will not care. And being a long-time elected official who is part of the problem, he cannot bring himself to admit fault. The Mayor clearly does not – or will not – understand why we are at this point in time where we need to make critical investments in our community. He took a hard stand against repaving roads, saying that what we have been doing over the past several years is fine. The potholes in our roads beg to differ. The City has not been able to meet the basic needs of the community for years due to negligence and mismanagement, and the Mayor argued last night that we simply need to double-down and continuing cutting corners.
His election year pandering to voters was weak and lacking of any conviction outside of his own personal interests. He thinks that we can simply keep robbing utility funds for pay for car allowances, private catering and parties in Patriots Park. He even suggested that citizens have been spoiled – which is news to anyone who has been paying attention. Mayor Neisler continues fighting the new City Manager who has been hired to manage our City’s finances and affairs. He continues to try to play a role that he legally does not have. In our style of government, the Mayor is a figurehead – representing the City at functions, getting his picture taken, etc. The Mayor does these things well, but has proven to be a poor leader. He is not the City Manager. He needs to get out of the way and let the professionals do their jobs.
Councilman Jay Rhodes – F
After nearly a decade on Council, one would hope that Councilman Rhodes would understand the procedure and flow of a Council meeting. But, nope. Also disappointing was his lack of ability to understand what was being discussed at times. When staff was discussing, at length, engineeer drawings and site development plans, Councilman Rhodes was confused – thinking they were taking away the Council’s control of rezoning. Not at all. In reality, the change is meant to avoid redundancy and the wasting of Council’s time. His desire for control of things that do not concern him (or that he doesn’t understand) is fascinating.
Regarding the budget, he wanted to direct and limit how future tax revenues can be used, showing a lack of understanding and knowledge of budgets, municipal finance and accountability. Grandstanding for a few votes in an election year, his lack of big picture understanding was sad after almost ten years on the City Council. Like the Mayor, his lack of accountability and conviction was also apparent.
Councilman Mike Butler – Incomplete
Councilman Butler has missed numerous meetings, including the last two pivotal Council meetings, due to poor health. Personally, we wish the Councilman well and hope he makes a full recovery. But professionally, who is representing his ward and his constituents during this critical time of pivotal decisions for our City?