Current Wrightsville Beach Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson is an alternative healthcare practitioner and has served as a New Hanover County Commissioner in addition to serving on the board of aldermen.
What do you think being an alderman means?
Being an elected official can be looked at on different levels. It enables me to respond to, not only questions, but needs that are expressed by the citizens that contact me. I guess the thing I like the most is being able to help people that way and also to set town policy
Describe your budgeting outlook and financial philosophy.
The fund balance is 48 percent, which, according to the auditor, is just where we should be relative to other coastal communities. We have a very low debt service to revenue ratio … 1.8 percent, which is very low. When you look at those two things you have an indication that the town is being very well managed and we are not in a financial crisis, and I see absolutely no reason to even begin discussion of any kind of tax increase. There are some people that call themselves fiscal conservatives. I hate putting those kinds of labels on things, what I am talking about is fiscal responsibility.
How do you feel about soft revenues like parking and ROT funds? What should their role be in the town’s budget?
Instead of paying lip service about how soft revenues are not a thing you should build your budget around, I think we need to look at it how it is sort of like a windfall and every year should be treated differently from every other year in that way. The fact that parking covers around 30 percent of our budget is coming very close to the danger line.
What would be your first step as alderman to address Biggert-Waters?
I think we need to do more outreach to these local communities and to do it under one umbrella. The problem is you have NC20 doing its thing up in the northern part of the coast and down here you have the homebuilders and Realtors and the local jurisdictions that are working together to a common end.
The next step I see is the state of Mississippi has filed suit … to stall this law and Florida has filed an amicus brief supporting Mississippi. I see no reason why North Carolina shouldn’t do the same and I think reaching out to the state legislation, the governor and the attorney general is a relatively easy next step to have them do the same kind of thing.
Considering the cost to the town of our present recycling arrangement, would you favor or oppose mandatory curbside recycling?
Let’s say [maintaining the main recycling area] does cost $63,000. If we got a bid from an outside company or municipality … for just recycling, and for the sake of argument, that the Requests For Proposals were only viable if we went to mandatory curbside but they included containers of certain sizes according to need and scheduled pickup. Then I would be favorably disposed to looking at that, particularly if we could use that $63,000 to offset any other charge.
Are you in favor of or opposed to increasing the height limits in the C-3 commercial zone?
I think that the decisions on the height limits in the past were probably fine given the conditions that prevailed at the time. I think that looking at the possibility of some flexibility with respect to new commercial is something reasonable to look at. The public also needs to be informed of the consequences of what it means to keep things as they are with no flexibility built into it.
Are you in favor of or opposed to modifying the Galleria property to allow permanent residential structures?
One thing you are not supposed to consider when you are making zoning decisions for Conditional Use Permits … is the profitability of the project. That is not the public officials’ job. The public officials’ job is to make the best decision they can for the good of their community and right now I’m not sure the good of the community would be best served by putting residential there. I am also dead set on not de-annexing that property for a number of reasons.
Where do you see Wrightsville Beach in 10 years?
Wrightsville Beach is going to have to figure out a more efficient way to deal with people who want to drive their cars here. If you look at the development going on in Wilmington on Eastwood Road you are adding a huge amount of traffic to our main corridor of entry. I see that traffic and parking are going to be two major assaults on the way this beach has been for a long time.
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
What most people probably don’t understand is how much my practice influences the way that I see things and consider and analyze situations. I am in the healthcare field so my primary goal is to help people and that is the driving force behind just about everything I do.