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THE TOWN CHARTER
WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA
PUBLISHED BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Catchlines have been added and a uniform system of capitalization has been utilized. A frontal analysis has been added for the convenience of the user.
Some of the provisions of the Charter, though not specifically repealed or amended, are now obsolete because they have been superseded by general law applicable to this town and other municipalities. For this reason, some material is indicated as having been omitted. However, the material remaining should be carefully checked against the General Statutes of North Carolina in determining the present applicability of any provision of this Charter.
The Charter herein set out is contained in Private Laws 1889, chapter 240.
§ 1. Town boundaries.
§ 2. Town government.
§§ 3 to 10. Omitted.
§ 11. Election, term of office, compensation, etc., of mayor.
§ 12. Oath of office.
§§ 13 to 15. Omitted.
§ 16. Board of commissioners–Mayor to be presiding officer.
§ 17. Same–Meetings.
§ 18. Same–Ordinances generally.
§ 19. Same–Powers generally.
§ 20. Appointment of clerk and treasurer.
§ 21. Duties of clerk.
§ 22. Powers and liabilities of tax-collector.
§ 23. Police force generally.
§ 24. Fees of chief of police; temporary police.
§ 25. Suspension of police.
§ 26. Police uniforms; police powers generally.
§ 27. Weighmaster; inspector; town engineer; town attorney.
§ 28. Auctions and auctioneers.
§§ 29 to 37. Omitted.
§ 38. License taxes.
§ 39. Tax levy.
§ 40. Streets and sidewalks.
§ 41. Condemnation of land.
§ 42. Cemeteries.
§ 43. Fire companies; fire limits.
§ 44. Additional miscellaneous powers of board of commissioners.
§ 45. Nuisances.
§ 46. Street and market sales.
§ 47. Alcoholic beverages.
§ 48. Fines and penalties.
§ 49. Conflicts of interest.
§ 50. Public buildings.
§ 51. Penalties for violation of ordinances generally.
§ 52. Recovery of penalties.
§ 53. Omitted.
§ 54. Violation of ordinance a misdemeanor.
§ 55. No increase or diminution of salary during term.
§ 56. Vagrants.
§ 57. Omitted.
§ 58. Repeal of conflicting laws.
That the inhabitants of the Town of Wilkesboro, living within the territory bounded as follows, viz.: Beginning on the south bank of the Yadkin River at the iron bridge, running westwardly with the base of the hill on to a poplar and three white oaks at a spring in the edge of Col. E. J. Cowles’ bottom; thence same general course to a large red oak on bank of old Jefferson Road at the top of the Curtis Hill; thence across said road southwest to a white walnut, J. M. Walton and L. T. Pruette’s corner; thence southwardly across the river road on to a bunch of dogwoods in D. E. Smoak’s line; thence eastwardly to a red oak on the old Burke Road; thence across the same, including C. H. Craven’s lot, to a stake at I. S. Call’s gate on the ridge above his barn; thence east to bend of mountain road near Wm. Harris, and on east with said road, including James Harris et al., on to a large poplar and Spanish oak on east bank of Still-house Branch; thence down said branch to Cob Creek, and down the same to a birch on north bank of said creek south of J. P. Rousseau’s house; thence north to the base of hill; thence eastwardly with the base of said hill to the old Salem Road; thence across same with base of hill in Capt. J. T. Peden's bottom and north to a sycamore on the bank of Yadkin River; thence up said river to the beginning, containing the Town of Wilkesboro.
The Town Board of Commissioners does hereby adopt a Council-Manager form of government pursuant to G.S. 160A-101(9)b. Wherein, “The city shall operate under the Council-Manager form of government in accordance with Part 2 of Article 7 of this chapter and any charter provisions not in conflict therewith.” The Town Manger shall appoint the Chief of Police with the advice of Mayor and Town Council.
Further, in accordance with G.S. 160A-101(3), the governing board shall be styled the Town Council.
This section was amended by the Town Board of Commissioners by ordinance with the intent to amend the governing board to be styled the Town Council. Said ordinance was passed on June 5, 2006.
Secs. 3 to 10. Omitted.
The mayor shall be elected by the qualified voters of the Town of Wilkesboro for the term of one year and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. The town commissioners may allow said mayor an annual salary not exceeding three hundred dollars, to be paid out of the town treasury. In case a vacancy shall occur in the office of mayor, the town commissioners shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy for the unexpired term. In case two or more persons receive an equal number of votes for the office of mayor, the sheriff of Wilkes County shall determine the matter by his vote. If a vacancy occur in the office by death, resignation or otherwise, and there is not a board of commissioners competent to fill such vacancy, the board of commissioners of Wilkes County, on such fact being certified to them by the town clerk, shall appoint a recorder for said town, whose duty it shall be to preside at the town court, known as the mayor’s court, with as full and ample authority to try and dispose of all cases within the jurisdiction of said court as the mayor has under this Charter, and to perform all other duties incumbent on the mayor, who shall for the time being be entitled to the emoluments of the office, and shall continue to hold his office and exercise the duties thereof until the office of mayor is filled according to law.
That on or before the fifth day after the election, the mayor and commissioners so elected shall meet at the town hall or some other place by them appointed and shall then and there take an oath to support the constitution and laws of the United States and the constitution and laws of North Carolina, and to discharge the duties imposed upon them by virtue of their office as mayor and town commissioners with fidelity and integrity to the best of their ability, which oath shall be administered by a judge, justice of the peace or former mayor.
Secs. 13 to 15. Omitted.
That the mayor, when present, shall preside at all meetings of the town commissioners, and where there is an equal division upon any question or in the election of officers by the board he shall determine the matter by his vote. He shall vote in no other case; and if he shall be absent the board may appoint one of their number pro tempore to exercise his duties.
That the commissioners shall form one board, and a majority of them shall be competent to perform all the duties prescribed, unless otherwise provided. At their first meeting they shall fix stated days or times of meetings, which shall be as often, at least, as once in every two months. Special meetings of the commissioners may also be held on the call of the mayor or a majority of the commissioners. And of every such meeting, when called by the mayor, all the commissioners shall be notified, and when called by a majority of the commissioners, such as shall not join in the call shall be notified.
That the board of commissioners, when convened, shall have power to make and provide for the execution thereof such ordinances, by-laws, rules and regulations for the better government of the town as they may deem necessary, not inconsistent with this act or with the laws of the land.
That among the powers hereby conferred on the board of commissioners, they may borrow money or create a public debt by issuing bonds or otherwise, only after they have passed an ordinance by a two-thirds vote of the entire board at a regular meeting submitting the question of creating a debt to a vote of the people, and a majority of the qualified registered voters have voted in favor thereof. Thirty days notice shall be given of such an election in some newspaper published in Wilkesboro, at which election those who favor creating the debt shall vote “approved,” and those who oppose it shall vote “not approved.” The board may order a new registration of voters at any and at all such elections, if they deem it proper to do so. They may provide suitable town water works to supply all the necessities of the town’s public and private wants, and regulate toll for same; take all proper means to prevent and extinguish fires; regulate the markets; make regulations to cause the due observance of Sunday; to appoint and regulate a police force to execute such precepts as the mayor and others may lawfully issue to them, to preserve the peace and order of the town, and to execute the ordinances thereof; to suppress and remove nuisances; preserve the health of the town from contagious or infectious diseases; and may appoint and provide for the pay and prescribe the duties of all such other officers as may be deemed necessary.
That at the first meeting of the board of commissioners, or as soon thereafter as practicable, they shall elect a town clerk, who shall act as treasurer, and a tax-collector, who shall respectively hold their offices during the term of the board electing them and until their successors are elected and qualified, subject, however, to be removed at any time and others appointed in their stead for misbehavior or neglect in office. Before acting, each of said officers shall take an oath before the mayor to faithfully discharge the duties required of him by the board of commissioners, and each shall execute a bond in such an amount as the board may require, with security to be approved by the board. The bonds required by the clerk and tax-collector shall be renewed every year.
That the clerk shall have such reasonable salary as the commissioners may designate, and it shall be his duty to keep regular and fair minutes of the proceedings of the board, and to preserve all books, papers and other articles committed to his care during his continuance in office, and deliver them to his successor; and he shall receive and faithfully keep all moneys which shall be paid to him for the use and in behalf of said town, and disburse the same according to an order given in obedience to the directions of said board appearing on their minutes. He shall keep a fair and correct account of all moneys so received and disbursed by him in a book kept for that purpose, showing from what source money is received and for what purpose paid out, and shall submit said accounts to said board whenever required. He shall pay to his successor all moneys in his hands belonging to said town, and faithfully perform all duties imposed on him as clerk by the laws and ordinances of said board.
That the tax-collector whose appointment is herein provided for shall be vested with the same power and authority in the collection of taxes that sheriffs have, and be subject to the same fines and penalties for failure or neglect of duty. He shall be charged with sums appearing by the tax-lists as due for city taxes. He shall be credited in settlement, as sheriffs are credited, with amounts in suit by appeal, all poll-tax as in personal property certified by the clerk of the commissioners of the county by order of the board of county commissioners to be insolvent and incollectible. He shall at no time retain in his hands over one hundred dollars for a longer time than seven days, under a penalty of two per cent per month to the town upon all sums so unlawfully retained. The board of commissioners, at the meeting before the last regular meeting in each year, shall appoint one or more of their number to be present and assist at the accounting and settlement between the tax-collector and town clerk and audit and settle the accounts of the town clerk. The accounts so audited shall be reported to the board of commissioners, and, when approved by them, shall be recorded in the minute books of said board, and shall be prima facie evidence of their correctness and impeachable only for fraud or specified error. It shall be the duty of said board to remove any tax-collector who shall fail to settle and fully pay up the taxes by law due from him, and he shall not be eligible to re-election to said office: Provided, however, that any male person so certified to be insolvent or delinquent as aforesaid, not previously exempted by order of the board of commissioners, who shall fail to pay said taxes to the collector for six months after such return of insolvents or delinquents as aforesaid, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction before the mayor shall be fined double the value of the taxes so due, not to exceed in any case fifty dollars; and the mayor, if said person be committed to prison for failure to pay the fine, may employ such offender in working the public streets and public works of said town, as set forth in section fourteen of this act, and said mayor may allow such offender a credit of so much per day on said fine and costs as to him may seem just and reasonable.
That the board of commissioners shall have the power to appoint a police force, to consist of a chief of police and such number of policemen as the good government of the city may require, who shall hold their office during the term of the board appointing them and until their successors are appointed. The chief of police or marshal shall give bond in such sum as the board of commissioners may prescribe, for the faithful discharge of the duties imposed by law and the ordinances of the town, and to faithfully account for all moneys that may come into his hands from fines, penalties and so forth. The chief shall have the supervision and control of the police force, and it shall be his duty to report to the mayor any dereliction of duty on the part of any member of the police force. It shall be the duty of the chief of police to attend the mayor’s court each day and report any violations of law or ordinances of the town, to collect all fines and penalties imposed and pay the same to the town treasurer, and to execute the orders and judgments of said court, see that the laws and ordinances of the town are enforced, and to do such other things as are required of him by the board. The chief of police and each member of the police force shall have all the power and authority vested in sheriffs and constables for the preservation of the peace of the town by suppressing disturbances and apprehending offenders; they shall execute all process directed to them by the mayor or others, and in the execution thereof shall have the same power which sheriffs and constables have. The chief and members of the police force shall take an oath before the mayor for the faithful performance of the duties required by law and ordinances.
The chief of police shall be entitled to and shall receive the fees arising from the execution of all precepts issued by the mayor or others, which shall be the same as that of sheriffs and constables for like services. The board of town commissioners shall pass ordinances for the government and direction of the police, and fix their compensation. In time of exigency the mayor may appoint temporary additional policemen for such time as may appear necessary, not exceeding one week, who shall take the same oath and be subject to the same control as regular policemen.
The mayor, at any time, upon charge being preferred, or, upon finding said chief or any members of said police force guilty of misconduct, shall have power to suspend such member from service until the board of commissioners shall convene and take action in the matter, and upon hearing the proofs in the case the board may discharge or restore such member, and the pay of such member may, in the discretion of the board, cease from the time of his suspension to the time of his restoration to service. Any violations of the regulations or orders of any superior shall be good cause for dismissal, and the mayor shall suspend the chief or any member of the police force if drunk while on duty.
The board of commissioners shall require the entire police force to wear badges, and be so armed and uniformed as to be readily recognized by the public as peace officers. And the police shall generally have power to do whatever may be necessary to preserve the good order and peace of the town and secure the inhabitants from personal violence and their property from loss or injury.
That the said board of commissioners may, in their discretion (as soon after their election as necessary), appoint a weighmaster, whose duty it shall be to weigh all merchantable commodities sold in said town; and an inspector, whose duty shall be to inspect all flour, provisions, forage, and all other marketable produce in said town in their judgment requiring weighing or inspecting. And the weighmaster and inspector so appointed shall give bond with approved security, payable to the Town of Wilkesboro, in an amount to be fixed by the board, conditioned for the faithful discharge of all duties imposed by law and the ordinances of the town; and shall take an oath before the mayor before entering upon their duties. And the board of commissioners shall have power to remove either of them for misbehavior or neglect or malpractice in office and appoint a successor, in his stead. And the board of commissioners are hereby authorized and empowered to regulate the fees to be paid for such weighing and inspection, and by whom to be paid; and to make all necessary ordinances for the government of said officers, and to impose fines and penalties for their violation. They may also appoint a town engineer, a town attorney and a sanitary policeman, and prescribe the duties of each and fix their compensation.
That the said board of commissioners shall have power, at any time, to elect one or more auctioneers for the Town of Wilkesboro, who shall give bond, with approved security, in the sum of one thousand dollars, payable to the State of North Carolina, conditioned that he will faithfully perform the duties of auctioneer by law, which said bond shall be filed with the mayor to be by him safely kept; and when the town commissioners shall have appointed said auctioneer, and he shall have filed his bond, no person shall exercise the office of auctioneer in said town except those duly appointed by the board of commissioners; and the said board may make ordinances regulating auction sales in said town; and the said auctioneer shall pay as a tax a certain per centum on all sales, hires and profits made by virtue of his or their office not to exceed one per centum, to be levied by the board.
Secs. 29 to 37. Omitted.
That in addition to the subjects listed for taxation, the commissioners may levy a tax on the following subjects, the amount of which tax, when fixed, shall be collected by the town collector immediately, and if the same be not paid on demand, the same may be recovered by suit on the articles upon which the tax is imposed, or any other property of the owners may be forthwith distrained and sold to satisfy the same, viz.:
1. Upon all itinerant merchants or peddlers selling or offering to sell in the town, a tax not exceeding fifty dollars per year, except such only as selling books, charts or maps.
2. On every bowling alley, and every billiard table, and every pool table, and every bagatelle table, and every other table or gaming contrivance, the object of which is gain, and for the use of which a charge is made, a tax not exceeding fifty dollars, reserving the right to remove it or them at any time as a nuisance.
3. On all keepers of eating-houses or restaurants, fish or meat or vegetable or bread stands or fruiterers, a tax not exceeding twenty-five dollars per year.
4. Upon every company of circus riders who shall exhibit within the town or with-in one mile thereof, a tax not exceeding one hundred dollars for each day, the tax to be paid before the exhibition, and if not, to be double.
5. Upon every person or company exhibition [exhibiting] in the town stage or theatrical plays, sleight-of-hand performances, rope-dancing, tumbling, wire-dancing or menageries, a tax not exceeding fifty dollars for every day they exhibit.
6. Upon every exhibition for reward of artificial curiosities (models of useful inventions excepted) in the town, a tax not exceeding twenty-five dollars, to be paid in advance.
7. Upon each show or exhibition of any kind, and on each concert for reward, and on every strolling musician, except for charitable purposes, a tax not exceeding ten dollars, to be paid before exhibition.
8. On every license to sell wines, cordials, malt and spirituous liquors, a tax not to exceed two hundred dollars, reserving the right in each instance to levy a tax on wines, malt and spirituous liquors as merchandise.
That taxes for town purposes shall be levied on all real estate and personal property, trades, licenses and other subjects of taxation as provided in section three, article five of the State Constitution; that all moneys arising from taxes, donations or other sources shall be paid to the clerk, and no appropriation thereof shall be made but by a board constituted of a majority of all the commissioners.
That the board of commissioners shall have power to grade, macadamize, pave, curb and otherwise keep in repair the streets, alleys and sidewalks, to lay out and open new streets, widen those already open, build and repair bridges within the corporate limits, construct a system of sewerage or drainage and make such other improvements in the streets as the public convenience may require.
That when any land or right of way shall be required for the purpose of opening new streets or for widening those already opened for other objects allowed by this Charter, and for want of agreement as to the value thereof, the same cannot be purchased from the owner or owners, the same may be taken at a valuation to be made by three freeholders of the town, to be chosen, one by the land-owner and one by the commissioners, which two so chosen shall choose the third freeholder, or if the land-owner shall refuse or fail to choose one of the freeholders as above directed, the town commissioners may choose two, who shall select the third; and in making said valuation, said freeholders, after being duly sworn by the mayor or justice of the peace or clerk of a court of record, shall take into consideration the loss or damage which may accrue to the owner in consequence of the land or right of way being surrendered; also any benefit or advantage such owner may receive from the opening or widening such street or other improvements, and ascertain the sum which shall be paid to the owner of said property, and report the same to the board of commissioners under their hands and seals; which report, on being confirmed by the board and spread upon their minutes, shall have the effect of a judgment against said board of commissioners, and shall pass the title to the board of commissioners, in their corporate capacity, of the land so taken: Provided, that if any person over whose land the said street may pass or improvements be erected, or the commissioners, be dissatisfied with the valuation thus made, then, in that case, either party may have an appeal to the next superior court: Provided, however, that such appeal shall not hinder or delay the commissioners opening or widening such street or erecting such improvements.
That the board of commissioners shall have power to purchase suitable land for public cemeteries at a convenient distance from the center of the town; that they may cause the same to be laid out in lots and kept in proper repair, and regulate the terms and manner in which bodies may be interred therein. They may sell the exclusive privilege of burial in any given plot and execute a deed for the same, and the moneys so realized may be expended under the direction of the board in beautifying, extending and keeping said grounds. Suitable provision shall also be made for the interment of the poor.
That they may provide for the establishment, organization and equipment, government and pay of such number of fire companies as they shall deem necessary and proper. And in case of a fire occurring in said town, the mayor, or, in his absence, a majority of the commissioners who may be present, may order the blowing up or pulling down or destroying any house or houses deemed necessary to stop the progress of the fire, and no person shall be held liable, civilly or criminally, for acting in such case in obedience to such orders. They shall also have power to establish fire limits within said town within which it shall not be lawful for any person to erect or build any wooden house, make any wooden addition to any building or cover any building with any material other than metal or slate; they may prohibit wooden buildings from being removed from without into said fire limits, or from being removed from one place to another within the same, under such penalties as the board of commissioners may establish, and such penalty may be sued for and recovered from the owner in an action of debt in any court having jurisdiction.
That they shall have power to make ordinances to prohibit or control the firing of fire-arms, fire-crackers, torpedoes and other explosive material, and to govern the sale thereof in the town; the pace and speed at which horses may be ridden or driven through the streets; the speed at which railroad engines and trains shall run within the town limits; to prohibit said railroad from stopping their engines or cars on said streets, and to require said railroads to keep the street crossings in good repair; the manner in which powder and other explosive and inflammable substances may be kept and sold; the manner in which commercial fertilizers may be stored; the manner in which dogs and hogs may be kept, and to prevent them from running at large in said town; to cause all alleys, cellars, lots, privies, stables, sties and other places of like character to be examined by a sanitary policeman to be appointed for that purpose. It shall be their duty, on complaint, to cause, by their order, the sanitary policeman to have said places cleaned and the nuisance abated, and the said sanitary policeman, or any other person appointed by the board and charged with that duty, shall have authority to enter the premises described to be in bad order and inspect and have the same cleaned; and the expense of abating such nuisance shall be recovered from the occupant or owner of said premises by action of debt in any court having competent jurisdiction.
They shall have power, and it shall be their duty, to prohibit all trades or occupations which are a nuisance from being carried on in said town. They shall have power, and it shall be their duty, to cause all ponds, sunken lots and other places in which water stands and stagnates to be drained and filled up, and to recover from the owner or occupant the expense as above, which expense shall be a lien on the lot: Provided, the owner or occupant of said lot, after ten days notice, shall neglect or refuse to remove or abate said nuisance. They shall have authority to cause all nuisances arising from any cause within the town limits to be removed or abated, and for the removing or abating any such nuisance the persons creating the same shall pay the expenses as above required.
That the said board shall have power to regulate the manner in which provisions and all other articles shall be sold in the streets and markets of said town, and to regulate the manner in which the streets and markets of said town may be used and kept.
That the board of commissioners shall have power to grant and cancel license to sell wines, malt or spirituous liquors within said town to any persons to whom they may think proper: Provided, the person to whom the license is issued shall pay first such tax as may be imposed by the board, and give bond for one thousand dollars, with approved security, conditioned for the keeping of an orderly and lawful house, and no person shall be permitted to sell wine, malt or spirituous liquors within said town unless licensed by the town commissioners.
That all fines and penalties imposed by this act, or which are or may be imposed by the ordinances of said town or the laws of the state, when tried and recovered before the mayor of said town, shall be paid to the town clerk for the use of said town.
That no mayor or commissioner, or other officer of said town, shall directly or indirectly become a contractor for work to be done for the town, and any person herein offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
That they may establish all public buildings necessary and proper for the town, and prevent the erection and establishment of wooden buildings in any part of the town where they may increase the danger of fire.
That for the violation of any ordinance or by-law made by said board of commissioners they may prescribe penalties not exceeding fifty dollars for each offense, to be recovered before the mayor without stay of process, mesne or final; and when judgment shall be given for any such penalty the party convicted may, unless the penalty and cost be paid, be immediately committed to jail for the space of thirty days or until payment thereof be made.
That all penalties imposed by law relating to the town, or by this act, by any ordinance of the town, shall be recoverable in the name of the Town of Wilkesboro, before the mayor or other tribunal having jurisdiction thereof.
That any person or persons violating any ordinance of the town shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be subject to the provisions of chapter sixty-two of the code, volume two, entitled “towns and cities.”
That the salary or pay of no officer elected or appointed under this Charter shall be increased or diminished during the time for which he is elected or appointed.
Any person who may be able to labor and who has no apparent means of subsistence, and neglects to apply himself to some honest occupation for the support of himself and family, or if any person shall be found spending his time in dissipation or gaming, or sauntering about without employment, or endeavoring to maintain himself or his family by any undue or unlawful means, such person shall be deemed a vagrant and guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine not to exceed fifty dollars or by imprisonment not to exceed thirty days, and the offense shall be cognizable before the mayor of said town, who may release the party on his giving a recognizance, with security, for his industrious and peaceable deportment for one year or less from the date thereof, or may also impose on him a punishment not to exceed that above mentioned. And the said mayor may cause such person or persons to be farmed out to work the public streets or other public work of said town as set out in section fourteen of this act.
That all laws or parts of laws in conflict with this act are hereby repealed, and that this act shall take effect from and after its ratification.
Ratified the 11th day of March, A. D. 1889.