As we review the history of modern day Mint Hill, we have to review the involved plans necessary to incorporate the town of Mint Hill in March, 1971.
During the 1960’s, as Charlotte was annexing her borders by leaps and bounds, concerned citizens in Mint Hill expressed deep concern that Charlotte would absorb us, thus taxation of great proportions would result. At that time, a very active Jaycees organization led by Lauren Quillen arranged meetings that were held in Bain School Auditorium.
Comments made at pre-incorporation meetings haunted the first elected commission. One member of a committee to investigate the process stated that a “minimum of .05c per hundred would be assessed after incorporation”. A second member of the committee replied, “but it doesn’t have to be paid”. Not until the advertised delinquent tax list was publicized did those statements subside.
Following the incorporation in March, 1971, more than 25 people filed for the commission. Due to the boundaries presented to the general assembly being temporary, few candidates were declared to be ineligible.
The first commission was installed May, 1971, in the VFW building. The first commission elected me, Robert B. (Bob) Long, from within. I called in Mr. Olin Flowe for the first prayer and declared that as long as I was mayor, prayer would precede all meetings. That continued until recently.
Upon taking office, I (Bob Long) soon realized that I was involved in an organization unlike any I had experienced. I wondered if hot dog sales or any other means would be necessary to start a local government. Prayer became part of the solution???????????
Being installed too late for the adoption of property taxes, no taxes were assessed for 1971-72. How would we pay our bills? That is where prayer played a pivotal role. Out of the clear blue, a telephone call came from Glenn Blaisdell, Mecklenburg County Manager, who stated that Harry Weatherly, recently retired county manager, just might be interested in assisting us.
Mr. Weatherly was most interested with the understanding that we would NOT pay him more than $300.00 per month. Needless to say, that prayer was answered. The very first week, he had applied for and received approval for enough beer and wine taxes, excise taxes and others to pay for his salary for the entire duration of his employment, about 2 years.
The town operated without any zoning except what existed at time of incorporation by Mecklenburg County. Shortly after taking office, I enrolled in a course at the Institute of Government at UNC-CH. I was advised by that staff to meet with Mecklenburg County for their continued enforcement of their code. This enforcement continued for many months until a committee was formed, hearings were held and adapted Mint Hill’s own zoning???????????
The first assessed taxes collected were a record for the successful first year new town. This success was primarily
due to the insistence of Mr. Weatherly to make phone contact with property owners to prevent disgruntled citizens.
He and I went door to door to collect from those citizens. We left each with taxes (including penalties) and new friends. Several thanked us. Mr. Weatherly seemed disappointed that I would rather attend my daughter’s graduation from Duke rather than collect delinquent taxes. I would have returned the town’s charter if I couldn’t attend that memorable day!
The mayor only voted to break a tie until years later. I only voted two or three times but the one I will be most proud of was to establish an ambulance service in 1975. This service continues to this day and is recognized as “the best in the state”.
Those 4 ½ years (that extra ½ year being due to general assembly changing voting from May to Nov.), taught me to appreciate the sacrifices made by public servants. It also entitled me to make many friends all over this state. As I remarked in reference to my service in World War II “Wouldn’t take anything for the experience but wouldn’t do it again for anything”.