Name as it appears on Ballot: Evelyn P. Lloyd
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: https://www.facebook.com/EvelynLloydforHillsboroughTownBoard/?ref=bookmarks
Occupation and employer: Pharmacist, Lloyd’s Pharmacy (Self-employed)
Years lived in Hillsborough: 77
1. In 300 words or less, please give us – and our readers – your elevator pitch: Why are you running? Why should voters entrust you with this position? What are your priorities, and what would you want to see the Board of Commissioners do differently or better over the course of your term?
I am running to continue work I believe in for our residents and Town. I have had the privilege to serve on the Town Board for 28 years, which has enabled me to contribute valuable institutional knowledge to fellow commissioners and Town staff. This knowledge will be important as many of our Town department heads are expected to retire within the next four years. A life-long resident, I have deep familiarity with Town history, operations, and local issues. Because of my experience, I am able to provide historical context to current issues that are rooted in past board decisions or Town history which helps the board in our decision-making. For example, I have first-hand understanding of the issues and helped build support for federal money to bring indoor plumbing to many Fairview residents. As a local small business owner, I always keep my door open to discuss resident concerns and help them resolve any issues they have with Town services. I routinely hear from residents who share concerns with me that they say they don’t share with any other board members. I want to continue to provide a voice for these residents. My priorities for the Town include fiscal responsibility, completion of Riverwalk across the Eno River to Occoneechee Mountain, and completion of our water/sewer infrastructure including completion of the reservoir expansion and upgrades to the water and waste-water treatment plants. I love my hometown, and my goal always has been to improve the lives of our residents, informed by our history and experience but not constrained by our past.
2. Given the direction of Hillsborough government, would you say things are on the right course?
Although I wish the Board had not voted for as many houses in the Collins Ridge development, overall I am pleased with the direction of Town government. I am especially pleased that we have been able to increase the level and quality of services provided to our residents without raising taxes, and am pleased we reduced the property tax mils after the County completed the valuation to ensure revenue neutrality. We also have made strides to recruit and retain qualified, dedicated employees and have made improvements in Town infrastructure, such as moving Public Works equipment storage from out of the flood plain, maintaining a 20-year repaving cycle, and continuous pipe relining/replacement/maintenance. Hillsborough is one of the few, if not the only, governments in the state to use a rolling three-year budget window every year in order to better understand current budget decisions against future needs and risks. I continue to support careful scrutiny of future development requests, and believe that overall, we have balanced business need for rooftops against resident preferences for preserved neighborhood and community character.
3. What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific?
By far, our most pressing issue is the budget. It is likely that the Town will face recession conditions in the near term at the same time it faces capital expense needs that exceed $30 million. These needs include completion of the reservoir expansion, upgrade of the water and wastewater treatment plants, adding a second fire station, upgrading police facilities, upgrading public works facilities, additional sidewalks, just to name a few. Meeting these needs will require raising revenue through bonds at some point in the coming years. Traffic continues to challenge us. The Board recently learned that NCDOT traffic studies indicate that Churton Street widening is not likely to reduce the time it takes for residents to traverse through Town. Meanwhile, because the main arteries are NCDOT-owned, we remain limited as to how we can reroute traffic. Typical sidewalk connectivity and bike lanes, which would provide many benefits to our town are prohibitively expensive. Thus, I continue to advocate that our staff look at transportation options that could be eligible for grant, state, and/or federal funding and which would be feasible. A third issue relates to affordability. Our small budget and state law restrictions limit interventions that have worked for places in other parts of the country and other parts of the state. Most options require increasing housing supply, access to transportation, and increased employment choices. Our water supply limits housing supply. Our budget and population limits transportation options, and limited land availability limits development and redevelopment options. To overcome these challenges, I believe we need to continue collaborating with the county and sister towns to leverage transportation and affordable housing options, continue to advocate retention of existing businesses, and recruitment of additional businesses willing to locate in a small town.
4. What prior experiences make you qualified for and passionate about the Board of Commissioners and its duties? What made you seek this position?
I am a lifelong resident and grew up loving this Town and am a fierce advocate for our residents. In addition to my Town board experience, I offer experience gained from serving on other Town, county, and state boards and commissions that brings a unique understanding and perspective. As the first elected woman member and president of the NC Board of Pharmacy, I know what it is like to break barriers, and I continue to support the Town’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion. I served over 40 years on the Historic Hillsborough Commission, 20 years as the Town’s liaison with the Fire Department, and many years serving on the Orange County Boards of Health, Elections, and Human Rights Commission, among others. I am known to staff as being well-prepared for meetings, and I bring an understanding of both detail and the big picture. I have watched other Towns lose valuable knowledge and perspective when experienced Commissioners no longer serve. I still love serving my Town as Commissioner believe my experience continues to be valuable to my fellow board members and staff.
5. In light of the recent Klan protests—thought he Klan members were not from Hillsborough—how do you believe the town can best project an image of inclusivity? Has the town done a good job in the past?
Hillsborough formally adopted equity and fairness as governing values and has come a long way from the Hillsborough of the 20th Century, when community values and board policies were not as inclusive or welcoming to all. Since joining the Town Board, I have supported and seen the Town make great strides in encouraging diversity and fostering a sense of home for people from all origins, backgrounds, and walks of life. The Town has and will continue to promote inclusivity through policy, practices, and open dialog with our residents. Over the past five years, alone, we have stood as a united board and government condemning hate, white supremacy while taking a stand affirming our Town’s values of being welcoming and inclusive. Although the Town has room for improvement, we have made strides in institutionalizing equity and inclusion in Town operations. Equity and inclusion are considerations for budgeting, land use, recruitment, and hiring processes and procedures. Every year, the UNC School of Social Work evaluates a Town policy, process, practice, or ordinance for racial equity. Doing so helps our Town consider viewpoints and explore unintended consequences from the perspective of community members who are outside of government. Although we are not where we want to be, the Town has implemented diversity scholarships for hiring and retaining police officers from communities of color and more representative of our broader community, and continue to explore ways we can increase diversity of town staff, advisory board membership, business ownership, and residences. We were one of the first communities to hold Town summits within our Latinx community. We also continue to have a very positive relationship between the Town and our African American communities. Areas where we can improve includes increasing outreach. Although our Fats/Oils/Grease Town staff routinely has a booth at Last Fridays and other community events, there is value in having staff members representing other service areas participating not only to share information but also to be more visible to the public beyond those times when someone has immediate needs for help at a specific time.
6. Do you believe the town’s storm water management plan is effective or is there a way to make it more efficient and less costly? How can the town decrease the cost of water and sewer services?
The Eno River should be protected from intrusive development and pollution, and I am proud to have supported the creation of a dedicated storm water department that implements a robust storm water management plan. Storm water is one of the main contributors to river and groundwater contamination, and storm water management continues to challenge towns the size of Hillsborough across the state. Hillsborough has been ahead of the curve when it comes to storm water, and our storm water program is one of the strongest for a town of our size. Because of our proactive approach, Hillsborough has heavily invested in staffing, budget, policies, and practices that help keep the hundreds of ponds, run-off channels, and miles of surface water from endangering our water supply. This, along with investment in a wastewater treatment plant that is considered to be the best in the state and among the very best in the entire country helps keep the Eno River and Town drinking water clean and healthy. The water that leaves our wastewater plant is cleaner than the water pulled in from the river into our water treatment plant. Although the legislature has limited what towns can do to support water quality, I continue to support our land use policies and operational practices that limits pollution, supports storm water quality preservation, and support conservation. Riverwalk, which I supported from the very beginning over 20 years ago, continues to be one of the most effective strategies the Town adopted to protect the Eno and ensure water quality for generations to come.
Water and sewer rates continue to concern me. Yet, I believe that maintaining financial breakeven operations and continually evaluating the impact of growth on water capacity are keys to long-term sustainability. Over 200 towns the size of Hillsborough or smaller have water systems that are failing. Ours continues to rank high in quality and continues to be one-third the cost of merging with Durham water (which is our only other option per State law). I am proud of having a highly competent water/sewer advisory board, who rigorously challenges, evaluates, and provides resident advice on water/sewer matters. I support their efforts in looking at the different rate structure options allowed by the NCGA. I also support the rigorous evaluation of our consultants and revenue bond attorneys who specialize in water/sewer fund viability and health. The Town’s water capacity model has been invaluable and has been adopted by other jurisdictions because of its ability to help me and fellow Board members understand realistic impacts of drought, growth, and changing water supplies.
7. In your opinion, what are the best methods to lure businesses to Hillsborough? How should the town seek to make itself more attractive? What types of industries should pursue to grow its tax base?
I am committed to ensuring the Town supports our existing businesses, and as a small business owner, understand first-hand how our ordinances impact our business community. Having a healthy local business community serves as a foundation for a thriving community, and unlike Orange County and our sister jurisdictions, Hillsborough has a healthy 40%/60% split between commercial and residential taxes. I am committed to ensuring that Hillsborough is welcoming to a variety of businesses, that Town policies are easy to comply with, and that our staff is easy to work with. I am proud of the investments the Town has made in Riverwalk, improved sidewalks downtown and on South Nash Street. These improvements have led to increased sales, evidenced by year-on-year increased sales tax revenues and increased tourism. Over 20,000 cars travel through downtown every day, and the residents and visitors sitting outdoors downtown are attracting more of those people to stop and eat at our restaurants and shop with our local merchants. I continue to encourage our residents to shop local, eat local, and encourage businesses to come to Hillsborough. I continue to advocate for more commercial development in our commercial districts in Daniel Boone, Waterstone, Churton Street, and Highway 70, and I voted against Collins Ridge because it did not have any commercial development as part of the developer’s application. Although we continue to hear from businesses that we do not have enough density or rooftops for many of the stores, restaurants, and entertainment businesses our residents say they want, we are continuing to attract restaurants and businesses tailored for our area. I still want to see restaurants, a hotel, professional employers, and medical offices that do not use much water and who are environmentally sustainable in Waterstone and Daniel Boon as well as local services employing local residents in each of our commercial nodes, and will continue to vote accordingly.
8. As with most places in the Triangle, Hillsborough is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
Our housing situation is exacerbated with the inability to increase the total number of housing units enough to stabilize or reduce home prices because of water supply and The Town budget is small, with a penny of property tax generating less than $100,000. Our town-owned land is minimal, and our future development potential is limited. Therefore, I believe that the most effective way to grow affordable housing is to support local affordable housing non-profits, such as Habitat and Community Home Trust. While I have served on the Board, the Town has welcomed over 60 Habitat and Empowerment Homes, including Crescent Magnolia and Odie Street redevelopment, and I supported requiring the developers to commit to up to 88 affordable rental homes in Collins Ridge. I voted for keeping the corner of Latimer and Nash Street zoned for mobile homes to keep housing on Latimer, Nash, Hayes, and Alma affordable. I also voted for establishing a rental assistance fund to help keep our residents in town. I support the Town’s continued collaboration with the County to find ways to ensure housing is affordable for those on fixed incomes, seniors, those who serve our community, and those from all walks of life and income levels. Although accessory dwelling units could increase home prices, I voted to allow for ADUs in order to give residents more flexibility to accommodate aging parents, boomerang kids, and non-traditional family units so that all can better remain in their homes for as long as possible.
9. Like most surrounding areas, Hillsborough is currently experiencing growth. What are the best ways for the town to manage this growth and capitalize on it?
My approach is to ensure that the town follows our Vision 2020 plan, listen to developer presentations, ask questions, gather public opinion to address residents’ concerns, and to make sure the development is beneficial to the Town and consistent with our values and visions. Important issues I consider include water capacity, traffic, environmental impact, walkability, and cost of town services weighed against the benefits to the tax base and to the overall well-being of the community. These reasons were why I voted against the Collins Ridge development and against more houses in Waterstone.
10. Describe something you think the town should have prioritized differently in the current budget.
With a tax base of fewer than 3000 households and land that represents less than 1% of the entire county, Hillsborough has operated with a lean budget that ensures that safety and mandates are met, that focuses on maintaining current assets and infrastructure, that invests wisely in our future, and which avoids raising taxes as much as possible. Due to wise financial oversight, Hillsborough is financially healthy when many towns of our size across the state are not. We have not raised taxes in seven years even though residents demand more services and expensive amenities, the cost of services keeps increasing, the cost of construction and materials has exploded, and the labor market needed to hire town employees from has gotten tighter. Because our budget looks at three years for annual operations and more for capital expenses, we have a clear line of sight into both current and future needs, such as public works facilities upgrades, fiber loop installation, additional fire services facilities, police facilities upgrades, water and wastewater treatment plant upgrades, and more. Our strategy map and balanced scorecard ensures that our dollars and actions are measured and matched against our Town objectives, values, and vision.
11. Walkability and recreation are important to town. What environmental initiatives would you like to see change or improved?
One of our continuing challenges is that our main thoroughfares, which our residents want to bike and walk are DOT roads. Sidewalks and bike lanes, which are greatly needed in Town, are prohibitively expensive. The Nash Street sidewalk was $1.2 MM several years ago. Construction costs have more than doubled, while our operating budget remains under $11MM. I continue to support seeking grant, state, and federal funding opportunities and continue to support collaboration with NCDOT to find ways to increase connectivity and walkability. I remain concerned that too many of our school children have to walk in the road or in rough terrain to get to school. However, our challenge is that the NCGA prohibits town taxpayer dollars be used for projects outside of town and the cost of sidewalk installation in Town would require us to forego delivery of basic services. My goal is to continue to look for ways to collaborate with DOT and the County to find ways to provide walkable access to our schools without reducing the services or quality of services expected by our residents.
My father donated land on Occoneechee Mountain that became part of the state park, and I am proud to carry on that legacy by having supported Riverwalk for over 20 years. Twenty years ago, there were no parks; today every neighborhood as at least one park. We continue to improve, and I am pleased that we are looking to increase park accessibility to those with disabilities. I also am glad we continue to look for ways for the Town to ensure that Exchange Club Park is preserved and maintained for years to come. I was glad to support our Town’s Clean Energy resolution, and I continue to look for ways to increase walkability, protection of our tree canopy, protection of our water supply, and protection of our air quality. Our parks, storm water management plan, our pollinator gardens, our avoidance of toxic pesticides and chemicals whenever possible all are things I have proudly supported. One of the most important policies has been to protect the land outside of Town limits by focusing on containing Town development within the urban services boundaries agreed to with the County. By preventing sprawl, the Eno and surrounding farm land is protected from urban development.
12. If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.