04/19/06 — Facilities analysis gets temporary county OK

View Archive

Facilities analysis gets temporary county OK

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on April 19, 2006 1:50 PM

The county commissioners will receive the school facilities report prepared by Wayne County Public Schools to satisfy requirements from state officials, but no action on the contents will be taken until the independent consultant's review is in, they decided at their meeting Tuesday.

The school district is required to send the county's public schools capacity summary and plan to Raleigh for review.

Commissioner Jack Best had suggested said the plan should be received by the commissioners after the county receives the facilities report from Evergreen Solutions.

County Attorney Borden Parker told the commissioners that receiving the document was not a commitment by the county to its contents. Instead, receiving the document is simply part of the procedure that allows the district to send the plan to Raleigh for review.

County Commissioner Atlas Price said he had no problem with receiving the report. County Commissioner Efton Sager said the report overinflates the real needs of the schools.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said the projected enrollment numbers for the 2014-15 school year and facilities costs on the plan are computed through a computer program, and the school board has no control over the outcome.

The commissioners agreed to receive the report with no commitment to its contents. The school board and commissioners expect to receive the report from Evergreen Solutions later this week.

The commissioners also approved developing cable franchise agreements with two companies and moving forward with two other projects.

The public could have voiced concerns during five public hearings Tuesday including two proposed cable franchise agreements, the county borrowing $700,000 from the Eastern Region to pay the financing costs of a new hangar at Goldsboro-Wayne Airport and the county borrowing $1.7 million from the Eastern Region to finance a Mount Olive shell building.

The county is in the process of developing cable franchise agreements with Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. Since the agreement with Time Warner has expired, David Harris, an expert on cable franchise agreements in North Carolina, said the county is continuing to work with the company on a day-to-day basis until another agreement has been reached.

Through negotiations with the company and county employees, Harris said he hopes an agreement will be prepared by May 23. The only person to speak during this public hearing was former Wayne County Commissioner Arnold Flowers.

"It's my understanding that Time Warner Cable doesn't give service to everyone who asks for it. They only give to those that they can get their lines to. In the time we live in, if people want high-speed Internet, they should be able to get it and the company should be able to send it to whoever needs it," Flowers said.

Harris said one of the things he, Time Warner and county employees can work on is getting cable and Internet services to more rural areas throughout the county.

Wayne County employees will work to develop a cable franchise agreement with Cox Communications for the first time. However, Seabridge is working on buying out Cox Communications, a deal that should be complete by January 2007. In the event of a buyout, the agreement would be reached with Seabridge, Harris said.

The public also had the opportunity to speak at two public hearings in regards to a new $700,000 Goldsboro-Wayne Airport hangar and the $1.7 million financing of the Mount Olive shell building.

Smith said the county would borrow the money from the Eastern Region, but the debt would not be a burden for the county.

"The money comes from (the county's) license plate fund, so it's kind of like we're paying ourselves," he said.

County officials have begun to move forward with the 12,000-square-foot project and looked at designs for the new hangar. Smith said county employees have already calculated the project will have a 59-month financing period.

Following a brief discussion and no public input, the commissioners approved the project. Then, the commissioners discussed borrowing money for the Mount Olive shell building.

Wayne County Economic Development Commission President Joanna Thompson said the shell building is an incentive for industries interested in Wayne County that would need to begin operations immediately, and it is important for economic development.

The Mount Olive shell building is already financed, Smith said. By using $1.7 million from the Eastern Region to refinance the structure, he said the building's interest rates would decrease by several points.

Smith said county officials have developed a plan to retire as much of the debt as possible within the next five years. The commissioners voted unanimously for approval of the loan.