12/16/08 — Duplin Commission pays waste department for work

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Duplin Commission pays waste department for work

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 16, 2008 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Duplin commissioners agreed earlier this month to pay Solid Waste Director Bee Barnette $18,000 for doing work at the Duplin Commons Event Center.

Commissioners voted in November to stop Barnette from doing any work for other departments in the light of a complaint by Jimmy Dixon of Calypso. The work was to stop until County Attorney Wendy Sivori could determine if the work was in violation of the law.

Dixon told commissioners during the meeting in November that because the department operates from an enterprise fund, resources are supposed to be used only for the purpose of solid waste collection and disposal.

But at their first meeting this month, Mrs. Sivori told the commissioners that Barnette also is the director of the county's garage. And in addition to that, the Solid Waste Department operates by using several other sources besides those that are encumbered by state law.

But because of the complaint, Ms. Sivori recommended that commissioners pay $18,670 to the Solid Waste Department for the work done at the Event Center. She said that is the amount that Barnette told her he would charge for the work that has already been done at the Event Center since March 2007.

Before Dixon's complaint, Barnette had not been charging for any work done there or for any of the other departments in the county.

Commissioner Reginald Wells moved to pay the bill. Harold Raynor gave the second. The vote was unanimous.

Dixon told commissioners he thought they made a move in the right direction, but the county still didn't address the cost of work done at James Kenan High School.

"I commend the board and Ms. Sivori for dealing with the issue. It's a start in the right direction, but I'm not saying it satisfies me," he said.

County Manager Mike Aldridge told commissioners he wants to continue using the equipment and paying Barnette for its use.

Commissioner Wells didn't like that idea.

"Dixon has an issue with that. Let's let the Event Center hire somebody to do that and send us the bill," he said.

Wells made a motion to let Event Center Director John Vogt hire a private contractor to do any work he needs done for upcoming events. Commissioner Zettie Williams gave the second. The vote was 4-to-2, with commissioners David Fussell and Frances Parks dissenting.

"If there's any way to use (Barnette's services and the heavy equipment) and not break the rules, I think we ought to use it," Mrs. Parks said.

Fussell said he voted against having Vogt hire a private contractor to haul dirt because he wanted Vogt to pay Barnette the money for the job, not a private contractor.

"It would cost more to have it done outside the county," Fussell said. "If there is a legal way to do it, we need to save every cent we can."

After the meeting, Vogt said the commissioners' action is going to cost the taxpayers at lot more than it needs to cost for work done at the Event Center.

Barnette had told commissioners he would charge the county about $150 to haul dirt into the center for each event like a rodeo or a 4-H show.

The cost from the private sector, Vogt said, is going to be at least $750, and that is with him having to provide the insurance. A bonded contractor with insurance and employees will charge much more, he said.

"I don't know exactly how much more. I will talk to several companies," he said. "Any additional cost to move that dirt is going to be a direct cost to the county. I think the bottom line is Mr. Dixon does not understand the relationship between the county and its own facilities.... What he is doing is shifting the burden to the taxpayers irrationally."