06/16/08 — Wayne County to schedule hearing on industry incentives

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Wayne County to schedule hearing on industry incentives

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 16, 2008 1:47 PM

Wayne County commissioners are expected to schedule a public hearing Tuesday to consider a tax rebate incentive worth up to $50,000 to aid a Nahunta company with its expansion plans.

The board is also expected to give final approval to the county's $162.4 million budget and to consider a preliminary draft of a proposed ordinance dealing with abandoned and dilapidated mobile homes.

The budget does not include a tax increase. It does include a year-long hiring freeze.

The meeting will get under way at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the Wayne County Courthouse Annex. A briefing session will start at 8 a.m.

Commissioners have been pondering the possible incentive for Benton and Sons in closed sessions over the past several months, county Manager Lee Smith said.

The state's Open Meetings Law allows public bodies to meet behind closed doors to consider industrial expansion.

"It is nice to see a homegrown business doing so well," Smith said.

Smith said that the company's growth underscores comments made by Jimmie Edmundson of the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance during last Thursday's budget work session.

"Your biggest (industrial) bang for your buck is existing industry," Smith said, paraphrasing Edmundson.

Smith said that in considering a possible incentive, commissioners looked at how the expansion would impact the tax base, the number of jobs created and construction of new facilities.

"They look at the pay back," he said. "They (incentives) have to pay for themselves in five years or less."

Benton and Sons is a metal fabrication plant located on N.C. 581 northwest of Goldsboro.

Mike Haney, existing industry specialist with the Wayne County Economic Devel-opment Alliance, said the tax incentive would apply only to new additions at the plant. He said it would apply to the difference in the company's property tax value.

Haney said he was not sure of the exact values involved. But for the purpose of example said that if the value was $10 million prior to the project and $12 million afterwards then the rebate of up to $50,000 would be applied to the difference of $2 million.

Haney said the family-owned company is very "high tech" and would be adding equipment, structures and employees.

As for the proposed mobile home ordinance, commissioners say they are considering the proposal to protect property values and the county's appearance.

The ordinance defines an abandoned mobile home as one that has been disconnected from proper electrical, water or sewer service for at least 120 days.

A dilapidated home is described as any vacant mobile home that has any visible structural damage and/or does not meet the county's minimum housing code and does not meet standards for habitation.

The ordinance would set forth the procedure by which the county could remove abandoned or dilapidated mobile homes.