09/27/04 — Law passed, but Currituck is victim of state’s stalling

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Law passed, but Currituck is victim of state’s stalling

A baffling story has developed up in Currituck County.

The site of the county’s airport is actually owned by the state. But Currituck now has “several commercial business” enterprises interested in locating there, and county officials are anxious to negotiate with them.

Currituck, like most of its neighbors in the East, is by no means wealthy. New businesses or industries could enhance the tax base and provide jobs for people who, despite their remoteness, are citizens of this state.

Members of both houses of the General Assembly recognized this. They passed a bill deeding the site to Currituck for $1.

Gov. Mike Easley signed the bill into law.

The matter was duly turned over to the Council of State which, technically, oversees transfers of state property. But nothing has happened, despite appeals from the county. It isn’t even on the agenda for the Council of State’s next meeting.

Currituck is threatening to sue the state. The governor’s office doesn’t comment except to tell Currituck that the matter “is one for the Council of State.”

Pasquotank County Rep. Bill Owens was quoted in an Associated Press article as saying he has been “negotiating” with the governor’s office and that maybe Currituck should be required to pay more than the $1.

Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight insists that the county should be required to pay “not a dime more” than the $1 specified in the law — as the General Assembly passed and the governor signed.

The public must wonder how or why the Council of State can procrastinate or any elected or appointed official can engage in a version of “bait and switch” on a matter of irrefutable state law.

Published in Editorials on September 27, 2004 11:23 AM