Ask Anything: 10 questions with Raleigh Mayor Meeker
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker answers your questions about illegal immigration, the drought, downtown parking and much more.Posted — Updated
Undocumented workers are a national issue, which needs to be addressed by Congress and the president of the United States. No state or city can prevent this problem or remove all illegal workers. When an arrest is made here of an undocumented person, the Wake County Sheriff's Office reviews whether deportation should be requested.
I do not have a single mayor in mind in terms of following anyone's lead. My sense is that successful mayors listen closely to their citizens, pay attention to management costs and, on occasion, take significant steps to strengthen the identities and economies of their cities.
The City Council considers 40-50 matter every two weeks, approximately one-half of which are on a consent agenda. I understand your point about disposals. On the other hand, it is also notable that many controversial issues are discussed and decided with a large degree of acceptance by our citizens. Impact fees, infill development and water conservation are three of these issues discussed in the past few months where our citizens have different opinions. Right now, Raleigh is highly rated as a place to live and work, which, in part, reflects on how our government is functioning. From time to time, the council does get out of step with the public and, fortunately, is willing to correct its course when it does so.
With the current conservation measures in place, the City of Raleigh and other municipalities on the system are using about as much as water as we did 10 years ago. Except in times of severe drought, such as last summer and fall, the City has had adequate water even without the conservation we are now undertaking. In addition, a new water treatment plant of approximately 18 million gallons a day is being built at Lake Benson and should be finished the first quarter of 2010. The River Little Reservoir in East Wake will have a similar capacity when it is completed. Finally, we are working with the Army Corps of Engineers to manage Falls Lake seasonally so that there is approximately 20 percent more drinking water available in the late spring or early summer.
The premise of your question is not correct. I have supported building the entire I-540 loop, both at the Council table in requesting funds from the state and at the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, making the same request. What has changed is that while the North Carolina Department of Transportation funded the northern half of the loop, it is now declining to fund the western and southern half. This is a state issue. There are no city funds in any part of the loop, including the northern part of I-540.
The idea of a river was mentioned in the newspaper, but the City Council has not discussed such a proposal. While the number of parking places on our streets is inherently limited by the number of streets, the City is building approximately 2,500 additional spaces in decks in the center city to accommodate future growth. These spaces are paid for by parking fees, not general fund revenues.
I, and just about everyone else involved, agree that mental health treatment is the top priority of the Dorothea Dix property as long as it is being used for that purpose. However, should the state close some or all of that facility and no longer use the land for mental health treatment, the city has taken the view that a large public park would be more beneficial than office buildings or commercial development.
The city manager will make a recommendation on the range adjustment as part of his budget on May 20. This is an issue since inflation, including the recent run-up in gas prices, is more than the range adjustment has been in years past. My understanding is that the manager is also looking at adjusting the salaries of certain categories of employees to make their compensation more competitive.
The Convention Center and new police headquarters are incorporating a number of sustainable design features. The Convention Center itself is expected to receive Silver LEED certification. The City is also increasing bus service and has encouraged citizens to install rain barrels to conserve drinking water. Finally, the city is acquiring more fuel-efficient vehicles to attempt to reduce consumption of fuel. There are, however, many more steps to be taken on these environmental issues.
While there has been some turnover, much of that relates to officers who are retiring or who decide not to complete the police academy. The council has authorized a lateral entry program, and I anticipate that the city manager's budget will include a upward adjustment in salary for younger officers.
CLICK HERE TO "ASK ANYTHING"
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.