Board Again Rejects Bond Referendum on Jail
Commissioner Cindy Morgan tried a second time Monday night to put a $52.5 million bond issue on the ballot, and failed again, likewise with a 3-2 vote.
The Moore County Board of Commissioners, without further comment, voted along the same lines from when the subject was broached at a meeting earlier this summer.
"It just seems reasonable," Morgan said of holding a referendum on the bond issue. "I've thought long and hard about this."
Morgan said she had talked with the State Board of Elections, where she was informed that it is not too late to add the issue to the November general election ballot. She then made a motion to put the bond issue to a vote of the people.
The $52.5 million in bonds includes $40 million to pay for the jail-public safety complex, with the remainder designated for major utility projects in Pinehurst.
However, the measure adopted on the original 3-2 vote caps the limited obligation bond issue at $50 million.
A long pause followed her motion for a referendum, and finally Chairman Tim Lea proffered the second. When the vote was called, they were the only yes votes, and Commissioners Larry Caddell, Jimmy Melton and Nick Picerno again voted against.
Morgan asked to add the subject to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, after three individuals had voiced opposition to the lack of a referendum during the public-comment period.
Libby Moodie said that "several commissioners" were out of touch with the views of the public. She said the jail should be built outside the Carthage town limits, not on the Grimm property downtown. Moodie said the county should instead use the downtown site for the local government office building, which the commissioners had previously decided to place elsewhere because of insufficient space.
"It is unfair to the taxpayers," Moodie said in asking the board to put the bond issue to a vote.
Bert Patrick, the leader of a movement opposing the downtown site for the jail expansion, reiterated her concern about the safety of school children. She distributed photographs showing the highway school signs and markings on the street beside the site.
"I beg you to reconsider the safety of our children here in Carthage," Patrick said.
John Marcum, of Pinehurst, also asked the board to reconsider its decision to place the jail in downtown Carthage. He told of watching the process with incredulity as the commissioners considered the location and the financing of the capital projects.
The economy was thought to be improving a year ago when the project was being discussed in detail, he said, adding that, in his opinion, the economy is in much worse condition today. He said issuing bonds would mean an increase in the tax rate.
Marcum called Carthage one of the oldest towns in the county and one of the prettiest and questioned why the county "keeps cramming" huge buildings into such a small community.
He told the board that it's not too late to put the measure on the ballot.
Unlike general obligation bonds, limited obligation bonds do not require a referendum.
In other business Monday, the board agreed to call a public hearing to receive comment on a proposed water shortage response plan, approved an agreement with the N.C. Department of Environ-ment and Natural Resourc-es to cover forestry service in the county, approved a water purchase contract with the town of Aberdeen and approved an easement for a water vault at Westmoore Elementary School.
The board voted to table a request for a review of property value after the close of the appeal process, and at the request of Melton, agreed to hear details about a proposed comprehensive transportation plan at the next elected officials forum, to be held in November.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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