04/24/07 — Goldsboro asks county for money for projects

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Goldsboro asks county for money for projects

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 24, 2007 1:56 PM

PIKEVILLE -- With construction on the new Paramount Theater under way and the new Community Building looming, the City of Goldsboro is asking the Wayne County Board of Commissioners for $300,000 for each of the next 10 years.

The request was received about a month ago, Commission Chairman John Bell said, but so far, little discussion has taken place.

That changed slightly Monday when the Wayne and Goldsboro Governmental Committees met for the first time in about 20 months at the Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport.

The city's request was at the top of their conversation about how the two entities can continue to work together and with budgets in the process of being put together, it also was the most pressing topic discussed.

"At $300,000 a year for the next 10 years, that would offset some of the debt service on one or the other," City Manager Joe Huffman said.

He and Council Member Chuck Allen explained that the city council made the request because the facilities are meant to serve the entire county, not just city residents.

"Our experience is they would be joint-use facilities," Huffman said.

He explained that they had originally asked for help on the Community Building, but that they would accept it on the Paramount if that was the commissioners' preference.

To Allen -- and perhaps to others -- getting the county's help in the two projects seems fair, especially since county residents are no longer charged extra for use of city facilities.

"Everywhere we go (we hear), the county needs to participate, the county needs to participate," he told the county's delegation at Monday's meeting. "I think you all are of the mindset this is a city project and I think that's wrong. That's a bad mindset.

"I know how easy it would be to write this off as just another request, but I do think if there is a way to work this out, at the end of the day, I really do believe it is important for the county to participate in some way on this. There's plenty of people who think you need to participate."

The city is estimating that the Community Building, which is still in the conceptual drawing stage, will cost anywhere from $10 million to $12 million.

"We thought $300,000 for 10 years would allow them to have some part in it. At the same time we wouldn't expect them to participate at the same level as the city," Huffman said.

He estimated the city's debt service would be approximately $1 million for 15 years, but said the funding plan isn't quite in place.

The Paramount is estimated to cost the city about $5 million.

County officials, though, were reluctant to commit to any sort of funding.

Commissioner Atlas Price even stressed that regardless of whether or not they eventually decide to set aside some money for the city's projects, there's no way they can lock the county into a 10-year agreement.

'We can't obligate anything but just for this board," he said.

And even this board isn't sure yet if they'll be able to afford it.

"We're going to look at it seriously," Bell said. "Whether we handle the $300,000 a year or not, I don't know, but we'll look at it. If it's possible and we can find the money, I'm pretty sure the county will do what's fair."

But Price said he doesn't want the city to get its hopes up too high. The county is faced with a possible $1.5 million Medicaid increase -- currently it's about $6.8 million -- and school construction costs are on the horizon. Plus, County Manager Lee Smith said that before any decisions could be made, more details would have to be given.

"It's not that we wouldn't want to, but under the circumstances, it'd be hard to do," Price said. "But you never turn anyone aside. I think it's important to look at."

And that's all Goldsboro Mayor Al King wants -- an opportunity to be considered.

"I know you have the same problems we have. Money doesn't grow on trees," he told his county counterparts. "Just think about it, take a look at it and put it in with everything else you've got and do the best you can."