08/31/07 — Residents ask commission about trash, school funding, annexation

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Residents ask commission about trash, school funding, annexation

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on August 31, 2007 1:50 PM

DUDLEY -- Trash talk -- the more literal kind -- briefly took over a Wayne County Comissioners' community meeting at Southern Wayne High School Thursday.

The commissioners saw their best turnout yet for one of their roving, data- and question-gathering meetings, with 10 people in attendance.

Leon Doole of Camp Trailee Road, Dudley, was there to talk about trash dumping.

He added that he has started tracking names of litterers, when he can, from "mattress bags full of trash, thrown onto the property," adding that the discards could not "have fallen off no garbage truck."

Doole, sitting right next to Sheriff Carey Winders, who flagged down county Manager Lee Smith to tell him that Doole had a question, quizzed the sheriff about the county's ticketing policy when it comes to trash.

Winders told him that trash tickets are rare because officers almost never come across the offenders as they are dumping. He polled nearby officers in attendance, who said it's hard to witness a littering offense.

"The trouble is, often times we have people who say ... 'I don't know how my trash ended up there, but I didn't do it," Winders said.

And residents who have trash pickup service have an easy excuse, he added.

"There's who I paid to pick up my trash, I paid somebody to carry it. There we are faced with that," the sheriff said.

The county manager said solid evidence like a police eyewitness is about the only way to prosecute the offense.

"When we've actually taken some of these things to court, and to the D.A., the problem is proof," Smith said. "That's an ongoing process. It's not been an easy process."

But trashy yards weren't the only fodder for conversation Thursday. Smith fielded a pile of written questions from audience members from around the Dudley area.

One was about the cafetorium at Brogden Primary School on Old Mount Olive Highway, apparently under need of major renovation.

Smith confirmed with Wayne County Board of Education Chairman Shirley Sims, who also was in attendance, that the cafetorium at Brogden was on the priority list.

School funding itself was another major topic in Smith's written pile of inquiries.

Smith said the county continued to look at options like bond referendums, certificates of participation, land-transfer taxes and sales taxes. The last two can't be enacted in unison, commissioners said in literature they made available for attendees.

But really, Smith said, county residents need to be aware of how financing works -- counties have credit ratings, just like citizens. They are called bond ratings when you are talking about municipalities.

A county's assets are added up and evaluated by bond rating adjusters, who then set interest rates for borrowing money.

That means borrowing more than $100 million -- a close estimate of the total of what the schools say is needed for improving school buildings -- costs more when the interest rate goes up.

Counties also have to petition their Local Government Commission to go after borrowed money, Smith and commission Chairman John Bell said.

"They (the bond rating adjusters) look at everything we do," Smith said. "They also look at the economy of your community."

Annexation requests were one other general topic posed.

Residents asking about annexation, Smith said, came to the wrong place -- at least for the time being.

"It is a city issue," he said. "So we have no authority over that."

But he also said the board of commissioners did request the state legislature study voluntary annexation -- in which property owners ask to become part of an incorporated city.

Smith said voters should ask their state representatives about voluntary annexation when the legislature gets back in session in 2008.

The next county meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at Eastern Wayne High School on New Hope Road in Goldsboro.