Jail Opponents Make Their Case to County
Members of the Moore County Board of Commissioners discussed the detention center during its Tuesday meeting. To read the story, click here.
Cost, size, location, safety and need were among the objections raised Tuesday by county jail opponents.
Eight speakers addressed the Moore County Board of Commissioners during the public-comment period at the beginning of the board's Tuesday meeting.
Of the eight speakers, only one made comments generally favorable of the plan to build the $27 million, 147,000-square-foot facility on a 21-acre tract in downtown Carthage adjacent to the existing jail.
Later in the meeting, when the board reached the detention center agenda item, the chairman, Commissioner Tim Lea, again opened the floor, allowing the speakers to complete their remarks and to make time for a newcomer who arrived later in the meeting.
"I belive that this board has failed the transparency test due to the manner in which it has proceeded ith its plan for LOB (limited obligation bonds) financing of the proposed new detention center without voter referendum," Pinehurst resident Doug Middaugh said.
Middaugh also said the county lacks a debt policy on special financing. He said he supports a new jail but thinks a new design is needed - one that does not extend need beyond 2030. He also suggested that the county adopt a supermajority vote policy in which four of the five commissioners would be required for approval.
"I am aghast that this proposal, which has a sizable cost, is not being put forth to the voting public in Moore County," Jackie Wilson said, reading a statement from her husband, Richard. "I'm suspecting that you have a serious concern that we, the voting public, would not agree with your decision to pursue such a project. ... Second, the replacement detention center model appears to be well thought out but, really, should it be built just outside downtown Carthage?
"This location is sure to destroy whatever hopes the town of Carthage has to return to an 'excellent city in North Carolina' model. ... Third, with all the open space land in Moore County, why wasn't a more distant location chosen to house such a facility, including the movement of the courthouse? Far enough away from towns, villages and personal residences."
Wilson also questioned decision-making process "without public input."
Gordon Ray said the bond issue situation is an example of "taxation without representation."
John Marcum said, "There is a real need to have an open hearing, where people can ask questions and enter into dialogue with the commissioners. The public is generally outraged."
Marcum questioned the need for haste and whether the county can afford such a heavy debt, especially in a recessionary economy.
Marcum also said the county does not need such a large jail in downtown Carthage and "the cost is definitely excessive." He made a presentation on the matter before the Local Government Commission, the state panel that must approve the county's debt limits.
Libby Moodie questioned whether all of this "is necessary." She cited different costs between the Moore County plan and buildings in other counties and also questioned staffing needs. She suggested that the county build a one-story jail in an area some distance from downtown Carthage and that the Grimm property be used for the county government office building instead.
Barbara Schindler told the board that this "is the wrong building in the wrong place at the wrong time." She compared Carthage to Mayberry and said that the sheriff played by actor Andy Griffith would never have permitted such a large jail "in the middle of Mayberry." Schindler said the people should be allowed to vote.
William Garner, a Democrat who is opposing Commissioner Jimmy Melton, also spoke.
"For a $40 million bond issue, the people whose children and grandchildren will pay for it should have the opportunity to vote on it," he said.
Walter Bull, the only speaker unopposed to the project, corrected inaccuracies contained in remarks made by some speakers. He expressed his opinion that property values will climb much higher by the time of the next revaluation in 2015.
One unidentified speaker showed up later in the meeting and was allowed to address the board when the commissioners reached the agenda item concerning the cost of the detention center. She expressed strong concern about the safety of children and others working, living and attending school and churches in the vicinity of such a large detention center.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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