County Covers Fees For Vass Town Hall
But the vote was 3-2, with dissenting members of the Moore County Board of Commission-ers warning that the board is setting a precedent other municipalities will fall back on.
"That would be a tough one to answer," Vass Mayor Henry Callahan said when Commis-sioner Tim Lea asked how he would answer requests for similar waivers from other municipalities.
The town asked the county to waive $6,585 in building permit, water and sewer tap fees that the county would routinely charge the public and other local governments. The action taken by the board Monday took the form of a grant to the municipality, rather than use of the word waiver.
Vass is making plans to erect a new municipal building to house town administration and the police department and serve other community needs. But when bids were opened, the low bid came in $129,000 below the amount budgeted for the project. That low bid remained too high even after the town negotiated with the low bidder.
Callahan said the 5,700-square-foot building would also be a site for Meals on Wheels and would be available as a community center with meeting rooms available to the public. He said a generator would be available and the facility could be converted into an emergency shelter as needed by the county.
Under questioning by Commissioner Virginia Saun-ders, the mayor said that the building would be available for use as a polling place upon request from the Board of Elections.
Lea said he was sympathetic to the town's situation and was also aware of economic losses because of the rerouting of the widened U.S. 1 bypass.
"I'm very sensitive to your situation, but other municipalities have said that if we waive the fees for your building, they will want a refund on the fees they have already paid," Lea said.
Lea said he understands that the town of Southern Pines will soon have a similar request on the table.
The discussion continued after Commissioner Michael Holden made a motion to approve the request and Commissioner Saunders made the second.
"Everybody else pays their share, Commissioner Colin McKenzie said. "If they can't make it, they ought to delay it."
Leas said, "We will be setting a precedent."
"Your comments are well taken," said Chairman David J. Cummings, who went on to vote in favor of the motion.
At the Aug. 7 meeting, Cummings had expressed sympathy for the situation in Vass but had mentioned the precedent the county would be setting by waiving the fees. He had suggested that the county consider an alternate arrangement that would assist the municipality without waiving the fees.
No one from the Vass Town Board was in attendance at the previous meeting.
But Monday night Cummings joined Holden and Saunders in voting to grant the Vass request. Lea and Commissioner Colin McKenzie voted against the motion.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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