06/16/10 — County accepting city property at library and airport sites

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County accepting city property at library and airport sites

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 16, 2010 1:46 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday accepted property from the city of Goldsboro that will clear the way for the county to be sole owner and operator of the county airport and library.

Commissioners also agreed to the purchase of 80 acres of land owned by Goldsboro Mayor Pro-Tem Chuck Allen and his wife, located at the south end of the runway at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The $84,250 purchase price will be paid for by Clean Water Management Trust Fund dollars. No local money will be used, although in the past some local matches have been required. The Clean Water program is designed to protect wetlands, help protect clean drinking water sources and address water runoff issues.

The actions followed a 35-minute closed session with county attorney Borden Parker that had been called to discuss acquisition of property and for attorney-client privilege.

The Allens' land is located near the city sewer settling ponds off Arrington Bridge Road.

"The motions were to accept transfer of property at the library, the Goldsboro location, and the property behind the library which has the little community garden area that is fully owned by the city and will be transferred to the county," said County Manager Lee Smith. "The other motion was to accept the property at the airport where we have had ownership with the city and in some cases (property) owned by the airport and they will be transferred directly to the county. Obviously there is legislation moving forward on that."

Local legislation is required in the General Assembly to amend the city charter, since the airport is managed by an airport authority. Once the bill becomes law, the transfer to the county can be completed.

Smith said a Clean Water survey showed that the Allen property, along with other properties north and south of the runway, had been approved for purchase by Clean Water.

"The City Council obviously cannot accept that because of the position (of Allen) on the board," he said. "The county, being a partner in the Clean Water, that money was transferred to a trust account and it will be transferred to the county and the county will purchase the property.

"What we are hoping for is a partnership with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for a project in the future."

Smith said he was not sure if the property was inside the city limits, but that it might be within its extra-territorial jurisdiction area. Either way it was part of the Clean Water project, he said.

"It did not have so much to do with location as it did relative to the Clean Water project," Smith said. "The city and county applied for the Clean Water money four or five years ago. So every property we have bought, we have bought jointly, but in this case it cannot be bought jointly and can only be by the county to avoid any conflicts on the City Council."

Over the years, property on both the north and south ends of the base have been reclaimed into natural areas, while some areas will continue to be farmed.

"Some areas that have been farmed will go back to being natural areas to act as filters for headwaters on these creeks and the river," Smith said.

City and county officials have said that it makes sense for the county to operate the library and library. The change will have little to no impact on the county budget, Smith.

The city does not provide any funding for the airport, but does make appointments to the Airport Authority. Once the transfer is completed, the authority will be disbanded.

As part of the library swap, the county will drop the $30,000 it has been budgeting for tourism. For its part, the city will eliminate the $174,000 it had been budgeting for the library.

The county, already the major source of revenue, will continue to appropriate $1.1 million for the library.

All library assets and operations will be turned over to the county.

Currently the library operations are overseen by a board of trustees. That, too, will change, although the details have yet to be worked out.

Goldsboro also will cease its $24,000 annual donation to the county-operated animal shelter, but will give $75,000 a year over the next five years to the Wayne County Economic Develop-ment Alliance.

The changes will be effective July 1.

The airport, hangars, equipment and infrastructure are valued somewhere between $20 million and $30 million. It is jointly owned by city and county, and in some cases the Airport Authority. All properties will be transferred to county.

The funding agents of the airport are the federal government, state of North Carolina and Wayne County.