Commissioners Delay Action On Vass and Airport Requests
Board members expressed reluctance to set a precedent by waiving building permit fees and water and sewer tap fees for the municipal building Vass is constructing. Instead, they decided to defer action until they can determine alternative ways to work with the municipality.
No discussion was held on the request from the Moore County Airport for transfer of $292,678 as the county's commitment to Delta air service. However, an objection was raised by a speaker during the public-comment period early in the meeting.
Board Chairman David J. Cummings said this item was being deferred at the request of the county manager, the airport director and the finance officer.
Information provided to the commissioners about the airport request indicates that $242,677 remains in the Airport Enterprise Fund, where entries date to 1992 when the county transferred the airport's fixed assets. However, county officials have been unable to find documentation as to the purpose of the transaction.
In a financial impact statement, the county finance director advised the commissioners that the money has remained on the balance sheet for both entities for 14 years and is unusable by either party.
The sum requested by the airport includes the Airport Enterprise Fund total plus the $50,000 previously committed by the county as an incentive to attract Delta to the airport.
One person took exception to the airport request during the public-comment period held prior to the board's regular agenda.
Floyd Frye, a neighbor of the airport, said he objects to paying "any more money" to the airport until the highway work is complete and "some of that mess" has been cleared up. He complained of garbage thrown on the porch in places where property has been sold to make way for the highway realignment and mentioned such public health nuisances as maggots and rats.
"You won't believe the mess that's there next to me," Frye said.
Frye was referring to the scheduled realignment of Airport Road and N.C. 22 at the intersection beside the airport.
Although the commissioners were sympathetic to the Vass request, they said it would set a precedent in which other municipalities would expect the same treatment in the future.
"As a resident of the area, I do understand the situation," said Cummings.
Cummings pointed out that Vass has felt a negative economic impact from the opening of the widened U.S. 1 which bypasses the town, resulting in business losses and a substantial drop in the tax base.
When bids were opened for the building project, the town found itself some $129,000 short of the amount budgeted for new construction.
The town has asked the county to help out by waiving building permit fees and water and sewer tap fees.
"Their present building is very small and not adequate, but I'm not too keen on a waiver because it would set a precedent," Cummings said.
Instead, Cummings said he would favor considering some other form of assistance, perhaps a grant.
Commissioner Tim Lea said he is also sympathetic with the town's plight but said he is also "sensitive to that word 'precedent.'" He asked the staff if there is precedent for such a waiver.
County Manager David Cotton said he had researched the issue back to 1996 and found no evidence of such waivers being granted. However, he said the record shows that the county has received a number of requests for waivers.
County Attorney Lesley Moxley advised the board that it would be wise to adopt a policy on the issue and then to stick to it.
Commissioner Michael Holden suggested that the board defer action and explore alternatives, including whether the county could share the facility in Vass. He noted that no one from the town was in the audience to answer questions or discuss the matter.
Fellow board members agreed and unanimously voted to defer action.
In other business, the board approved a request to authorize the recreation director to change concession items and prices as needed at Hillcrest Park.
Finance Officer Lisa Hughes told the board that Recreation Director Billy Ransom keeps an eye on what is selling and what is not popular at the concession stand. She recommended that Ransom, with approval by the recreation advisory board, be authorized to make adjustments in products and prices.
She said this added flexibility would enable him to make changes suitable for the people who attend athletic events and other functions at the park. She said sales are geared to cover expense.
Also Monday, the commissioners also called five public hearings for their 6 p.m. meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.
One hearing is to consider the closeout of the 2003 Community Development Block Grant for scattered-site housing improvements.
The others are to decide on proposed text amendments to the zoning ordinance, additions to the Road Naming and Addressing Ordinance, and two rezoning requests.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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