UPDATE: Boone reiterates: We want mediation
In the letter, dated April 19, Town Manager Greg Young continues to request a mediation session between the Town Council and Board of Commissioners.
"The town's proposal was for both boards, fully constituted, to go into simultaneous, separate closed sessions in an effort to find mutually agreeable solutions," Young wrote. "Following the sessions, we certainly would expect that the positions of each body and results of the mediation would be fully disclosed to the public, with an opportunity for public input and comment."
"Due to the threats of litigation, the complexity of the issues, and the various statements several commissioners have made, this is a very complicated and sensitive legal matter," he continued. "Along with the council's wish to avoid creating an atmosphere which will hamper the town's goal to seek a solution, the Town Council has come to the conclusion that mediation is the only method which might work."
"We, therefore, continue to request mediation," the letter concluded.
In a statement released Monday, Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson said there is not enough time before April 30 -- the date the county manager said he would submit the sales tax distribution changes to the N.C. Department of Revenue -- to legally advertise a public hearing on any changes to the town's Unified Development Ordinance. Some county commissioners have asked the town council to revise recently adopted multi-family housing standards, which they say threaten the sale of the old high school property.
"Any changes -- if we could reach agreement on them -- would have to go through a state-required public notice and hearing that can't logistically happen before the end of April," said Clawson. "In addition, Boone has a legitimate need to support affordable housing for people who work in Boone. We can't throw that completely out the window. We're going to have to weigh that against the recent demands for ordinance changes."
"The council and I want to keep Boone's services operating while avoiding a property tax increase," Clawson said. "The commissioners' decision would force the town to severely cut or discontinue many programs and essential services."
To read the full statement and view a graphic prepared by the town of Boone to depict the disparity of town sales tax distributions under the county's planned changes, click on the links to the right of this article.
Return to WataugaDemocrat.com later for more on this story.