Murphy thanks Payne for service, pays extra for election

   Murphy – Ann Payne hung around for a month-long encore to help transition the town she has helped run for 24 years into a new era.
   The reins of the Town of Murphy will pass to Chad Simons later this month, but council members made sure to thank Payne on her way to retirement at her last meeting Jan. 2.
   “(Retired longtime mayor) Bill (Hughes) could not have done it without you,” said Councilwoman Barbara Hughes, Bill’s wife.
   “The town owes a big debt to you,” Councilwoman Karen Watson said. “You do one job that four people should be doing.”
   In other town news:
   * A developer is hoping to get a hand from Murphy to build luxury apartments in town later this year.
   Vince Merolla appeared at the meeting to ask for a few discounts to get his construction project up and running. The plan is for a 75-unit building behind Ingles off U.S. 19/74 that will “provide housing for additional growing companies.”
   The units would be leased between $925 and $1,300 per month. Merolla hopes to break ground by May.
   “I want to make sure I can develop this thing at the right cost,” he said. “This is something where everyone can win.”
   Merolla asked for a reduction in water/sewer tap fees from a projected $301,875 to $75,000, or $1,000 per unit. He also asked for the town to pay for two fire hydrants as part of that cost as well as waive land and permit fees.
   Councilman Frank Dickey said Cherokee County was in charge of building inspection fees, which would have to be paid. He also asked that Merolla pay for the fire hydrants.
   Councilman Barry McClure wanted to see the numbers on what it cost the town to do the water/sewer taps. He wanted to see at least that much covered before making a decision.
   “There are more benefits to this than hard dollars,” Merolla said. “There is a big need for this housing here.”
   * The Republican primary election cost the town $11,660, which was more than the general election. Mayor Rick Ramsey’s two opponents got a combined seven votes, or about $1,665.71 per dissenting vote.