W. Brian Hiatt has served as Concord's City Manager since 1998. He came to Concord from Hickory where he served as Assistant City Manager for over 10 years. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and Government Service from Appalachian State University where he was a summa cum laude graduate, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been recognized as a Credentialed City Manager by ICMA.
Active in the community, Brian is a Past President of the Academic Learning Center and continues to serve on that Board. He is on the Board of Directors for the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation and the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County. Brian has served as the Chair of the Cabarrus County United Way Board three times since 1999, most recently in 2015, and was Chair of the United Way Campaign in Cabarrus County in 2002. He is a Past-President of the Concord Rotary Club, where he was named Rotarian of the Year in 2012, and the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. He is also a former board member of Hospice of Cabarrus County. He is a Past President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association, having served as President in 2012-13, and has served on several committees supporting the International City and County Management Association. Brian was a member of the Board of Directors of the NC League of Municipalities from 2004 through 2008. Brian is married to Julie, and they have two grown children, Andrew and Erin.
by Brian Hiatt
Last summer, this column described the variety of master plan processes that were underway last year. The City Council has made sure our organization is planning for the future, not only in terms of how we grow, but also with regard to service and infrastructure needs. Planning for these service and infrastructure needs is imperative, along with how these needs are paid for.
Communities in North Carolina that are not growing (and those that are even declining) in population will quickly tell you the burden placed on their residents by a stagnant or decreasing tax base. At the same time, areas experiencing tremendous residential growth have to make sure that everyone helps to pay the cost of maintaining service levels and expanding infrastructure, so the financial burden is balanced and does not fall primarily on existing residents and businesses. When considering the cost to existing residents and businesses, tough decisions have to be made to protect the financial stability of impacted local governments. This is a good challenge to have, but it is still a challenge.
At their annual Planning Session in late January, Council heard the results of last year’s master planning efforts, and provided guidance on new ones. Presentations were made on the Recreation Master Plan and the Water System Master Plan, and an update was provided on the Wastewater System Master Plan. Detailed discussions of future transportation and stormwater needs and projects took place. Council provided feedback on prioritization of key projects and guidance for future staff recommendations on how to pay for infrastructure needs.
Council also held a joint meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission to provide feedback to the consultants assisting Planning staff with the City’s Land Use Plan update. This process will create a crucial document for our future. It will provide a vision through the year 2030, with long-range goals and objectives for development activities within the City. Representatives of both boards are working on the steering committee, and an extensive public input process is being developed. If growth is going to continue to be a benefit to Concord, it is essential to hear how residents and business owners think the community should grow and look in future years.
While growth is vital to a vibrant community, growth at all cost (and no benefit) is not financially feasible and can impact the quality of life. Those profiting from residential growth can make an extremely positive contribution to the local economy. However, it is important to balance that profit with the impact on the community, by contributing a fair share towards the infrastructure and service needs they create.