Ted Biggers has served as Mint Hill mayor for 14 years. He is an airline pilot with U.S. Airways and has been with the airline since 1980, when he finished seven and a half years of service in the U.S. Air Force. He answered a few questions for us about ongoing town business for a quick update on Mint Hill.
Q: The 2014 Mint Hill budget just passed. What do you think of it?
A: I was really happy that we didn’t have to go up on taxes. As you probably have noticed, a lot of the surrounding government entities have had to raise taxes, and I think it’s always an accomplishment-an admirable accomplishment-when a board can present a balanced budget and keep from raising taxes.
Q: Mecklenburg County has been making your job a little more interesting with revaluation and the fire tax overpayment. What’s the town doing with those issues and how is it affecting the town’s day-to-day operations?
A: It really hasn’t had a major effect on our day-to-day operations, because our budgeting has been so conservative and our town manager has done such a good job with the budget, it really hasn’t adversely affected us other than having to work with the two fire departments, Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Idlewild Fire Department, to make sure that they’re properly funded and that it didn’t hurt their operations. I believe through Brian’s (Welch) efforts, and working with their fire chiefs and boards, that we have been able to achieve that, and that’s been the only problem. The revaluation, we’re going to lose some revenue because of that, but we’re also gaining some revenue in other areas because it looks like the building industry is slowly coming back also. We’ve actually got a good number of new homes going up in Mint Hill and hopefully within the next 12 to 24 months, we’ll see some action out of the mall site.
Q: What are some development issues and projects you are keeping an eye on and what is the town doing with those?
A: The Bridges at Mint Hill is probably the most anxiously anticipated development in the town of Mint Hill and it has been since they announced it many years ago, and I know as time goes on, some people lose hope that it will ever happen, but we are constantly reminded or encouraged by communications with the owners of the property and the development contractor that it is going to take place. We have been reassured by the folks at Belk’s department stores that they still intend on being the anchor tenant there, and I think as long as Belk’s remains committed, that’s a good sign for the Town of Mint Hill. If Belk’s remains committed to that project, I believe it will eventually happen. The developer has been very slow and deliberate to make sure the economy has recovered to a level that will adequately support that site for all the retail businesses that they want to put in.
We are also looking forward to the railroad project that has recently passed down at Albemarle Road. That should bring in some very much-needed tax revenue for the town. And it will bring local jobs to the area, so we are excited about that project.
Q: How do you feel about restoring the Bain Auditorium and other similar town projects?
A: I’m hopeful that the community of Mint Hill will be able to do that (restore Bain). A private group is working now to try and seek out some donations and grants and the town, I’m sure, if that project does move forward, the town will be involved in some form that is yet to be determined. There are so many different factors involved. We hope that CMS will be involved in that effort, the town will be involved in that effort, the historical society will be involved in that effort, and all the citizens of the town will be involved in it. I am hopeful that will happen, and we’re lucky here that our historical society is so actively involved in preserving various historical sites in and around Mint Hill, so we more or less depend on them to identify places and bring them to our attention. It’s always nice when a town or a community can preserve and restore some of those sites to be there to preserve our history.
Q: Looking toward the future, what are some things on your “To Do” list, and what are you trying to accomplish in the near future?
A: Moving toward the future, I know the board, and we always work as a board, we are trying to focus and emphasize our sidewalk projects and continue to develop those and to not only add new sidewalks, but also to connect existing sidewalks where there are gaps. We’re also looking forward to the possibility of adding some more park land and park space to the town. I would like to see if it’s possible to put one or two pocket parks in the downtown area for our residents to be able to enjoy. I think as we move forward, our sidewalk system and our pedestrian system is going to be much more highly developed in our downtown area. I think that’s where you will continue to see most of that and it would be nice to have a park or two located so that folks could walk or ride a bike to get to those parks. Also, we’ll be looking at bigger park areas outside of the downtown area for other various uses, including athletic fields. There may be some opportunities for private endeavors to come in and locate some athletic fields, but we also may be able to do it in conjunction with the new park.
Q: That sounds good. Anything you’d like to add?
A: Yeah. We are looking forward to the completion of the new police department at our new town hall and that construction seems to be going well. I think the timeline is that it’s supposed to be done by August, so they’ve got a very aggressive timeline on that.
We also need to continue to work closely with the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce to support and ensure that small businesses, especially in our downtown area, have our support in further development in the downtown area. Our designated downtown area is very dependent on small business, and the Chamber has done a tremendous job in supporting those businesses.