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Irene Fanelli sworn in as Gibsonville’s newest alderman

By Charity L. Cohen

Special to The Alamance News

Irene Fanelli was sworn in to fill the vacancy on the Gibsonville board of aldermen left by past alderwoman Yvonne Maizland-Sturdevant during Monday night’s regular meeting. Maizland-Sturdevant announced her upcoming retirement and plans to move to Virginia with her newly-wed husband Jack in January.

She announced her resignation to the board at its regular meeting on May 15 and formally resigned from her position as alderwoman the next day, May 16.

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Fanelli was nominated by alderman Clarence Owen and received a unanimous vote from the board on May 15; she was sworn in as a board member by state representative Jon Hardister on Monday night.

Fanelli has lived in North Carolina for 18 years, having previously lived in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California.

“People asked me, ‘why did you move to North Carolina,’ and the number one reason is that people have manners,” Fanelli said jokingly.

She quickly fell in love with the state and the town of Gibsonville and became an active member of the community, serving on the committee for long-term planning and eventually running for alderman in 2021 alongside Paul Thompson who was elected that year.

Although she wasn’t elected in 2021 (she fell short by two votes behind Thompson), she still has the same drive to help the town and views her appointment to the board of aldermen to do just that. Fanelli was not selected to fill Thompson’s seat after his death, as the board turned to former alderman Paul Dean, the fourth-place finished in 2021 election, instead.

“I share a lot of the same ideas as Yvonne Maizland and Paul Thompson did and would like to continue some of the efforts that they did as well as my own,” Fanelli said.

Her vision for Gibsonville includes seeing more new development for the town that will stimulate growth while preserving the town’s unique personality.

She supports the new police department building and a new library and wants to advocate for more direct involvement in the community by members of the board so that the needs of the town’s residents can be heard.

Fanelli’s current agenda as alderwoman mirrors that of the rest of the board in putting together a budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year that will consider the revaluation of real property in Alamance County while continuing all the services that the town of Gibsonville provides on both sides of the county line.

In January, Alamance County’s real property was revalued with an increase of 79.4 percent in the overall value of the county’s real taxable property. Gibsonville’s increase was just under the county average, at 75.18 percent.

This drastic increase in property value will cause a hike in property taxes for Gibsonville residents who live in Alamance County. Many residents are looking to the board to recommend a budget that will offer relief from this tax increase, many hoping for a “revenue neutral” approach that would leave the cumulative tax revenues at a level similar to the pre-revaluation levels.

“It is a difficult balance, it’s a delicate balance, and I understand that there’s a lot of people that are very upset and are potentially going to be heavily financially impacted by the changes that have come through from Alamance County,” she said.

Fanelli wants residents to understand that the board is aware of this change and its effect.
During Monday night’s meeting, Fanelli reassured the town that their concerns were heard and valued.

“I know that everybody is struggling, I understand that, and I know that we will all take into consideration the things that we need to know and that we need to take to try to come to some good decisions here,” she said.

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