Morganton strives to keep up with the ever-changing environment of local government. This is an ongoing charge to the elected officials as well as the City staff.
In October 2009, the Morganton City Council officially adopted the 2030 Comprehensive Land Development Plan. The long-range, comprehensive plan will guide investment and decision-making over the next 10 to 20 years for the City of Morganton. The policies and vision outlined in the plan were created through broad community involvement and consensus. The plan is intended to provide local leaders with guidance on development and zoning decisions in Morganton.
The plan seeks to create a vibrant central core, supported by employment and retail nodes, strong neighborhoods, and ample open spaces.
The City Council took the initiative in 1987 by appointing the Morganton 20/20 Committee, designed to outline a strategic plan that would guide the City into the next century. Most of the committee's focus is on the community as a whole as opposed to the specific plans of the City government. However, this demonstrates the importance placed by City officials on the establishment of plans and goals for the future.
During FY 1996-97, a Comprehensive Recreation Plan was designed to address current and future recreational needs in the City. In fiscal year 1997-98 the City purchased property near the Catawba Greenway to construct a soccer complex. Grant dollars totaling $324,000 were awarded to the City for this project. During 1999-00 the first phase, two soccer fields, restrooms, fencing and lighting was completed.
Plans for a new City Hall began during the 1998-99 fiscal year. An innovative public/private partnership led the City into a multifaceted City Hall complex. In addition to housing City Hall, the complex will include residential units, a park and a restaurant. City Hall relocated to its new facility in spring 2002. In 2007, he project developer completed the residential and commercial portions of the development.
The City Council has directed that a portion of the Electric Fund's retained earnings be to designated for use as a rate stabilization fund. In short, this fund is to be used in the future to curb the rising costs of purchased power rather than passing the cost increases along to the city's customers. The city council feels very strongly that it must incorporate long-range plans for all city utility services in order to facilitate the needs for the ever-changing environment of the industry. As of June 30, 2003 this designation totals approximately $8.9 million.
This is a very historic area, but quality of life certainly has not lagged behind here, as evidenced by the Greenway along the Catawba River and many other recent improvements. Other efforts to preserve a bit of Burke County's environmental heritage for posterity have resulted in the establishment of Lake James State Park and South Mountain State Park. The area hosts numerous festivals every year and Burke County offers more than 180 places to worship. "Money" magazine named the region as one of the 20 best places to live in the South.