Maiden strives to maintain finances

Maiden officials are optimistic about the town's financial stability and are hoping for continued success in the upcoming year.

"We've had a good year," said Maiden Mayor Bob Smyre. "And to do that in this economy is a good thing."

Every department in the town operated under budget in the last fiscal year, and town officials didn't have to access its reserves to make it through the year.

The town operates at 72.42 percent of its unreserved fund balance as compared to total expenditure, which far exceeds the Local Government Commission's recommended 8-12 percent.

"(That) means we are prepared for one or two rainy days if they pop up anytime soon," said town manager Todd Herms in an e-mail message.

The town has revenues in its general fund of about $3 million. Its expenditures were about $2.8 million, which means about $200,000 goes back into the town's reserves.

The economic downturn affected Maiden, as it did most municipalities in the country. Herms said town officials took the economy into consideration when they bid on projects and looked for ways to save money without sacrificing services.

Town residents continue to face uncertain economic times, but Herms said the town will continue to provide high-quality services for its people.

Herms told The O-N-E in January that one of council's goals for 2010 was to recruit and retain new businesses to Maiden and its downtown area.

That goal was realized, with about 15 businesses opening this year in the town, Herms said.

But the town doesn't want to stop there. Herms and Smyre said they want to continue recruiting more businesses to the downtown area to further the town's economic development.

More than $1 billion was brought to Maiden through investments or expansions since 1999. Getrag Gears, Lawrence Lumber, Ethan Allen and Von Drehle invested in the town, and a large investment came with Apple's data center.

Officials close to the project continue to be tight-lipped about what the data center will entail, but Catawba County Economic Development Corporation president Scott Millar recently told The O-N-E the facility obtained its certificate of occupancy.

Herms said another goal for the town is to start replacing items in the town that are in disrepair, such as water and sewer infrastructure, departmental equipment and town facilities.

The town brought in about $2.2 million in its water and sewer fund and spent about $2.1 million. Herms said the remaining $100,000 will be placed in the town's reserves and will be used to fund improvements on the town's infrastructure.

As officials look to new businesses and investments in the future, they're also taking some of the town's older elements and making them new again. Maiden Town Council started reading and revising the town's entire code of ordinances this year.

"It's a long process, but the key thing is that we're doing things right, and we're doing things fairly," said Maiden planing director Sam Schultz.

The town finished the revision of its nuisance ordinance code and worked to implement those codes to clean up the town's neighborhoods.

The town's nuisance ordinances were among the first set of codes revised and implemented. Schultz identified properties within town limits in noncompliance of nuisance ordinances. After following required protocol to notify the property owner and resident, he brings the offending matter to council.

Council members review the evidence and then choose whether the town will proceed in cleaning procedures at the homeowner's expense.

It will take Maiden a few more months before its ordinance revision is complete.

Schultz said in the future he wants to put those ordinances and codes online, so residents will have access to the rules and know exactly what they entail.