08/05/12 — County will eye $400,000 housing program

View Archive

County will eye $400,000 housing program

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 5, 2012 1:50 AM

Wayne County commissioners will be asked to approve Tuesday a $400,000 grant agreement to help rehabilitate dilapidated houses in the county, and to hire a company to administer the grant program.

The county was awarded the $400,000 for scattered site housing assistance through the Community Investment and Assistance portion of the Community Development Block Grant program, which is administered by the state Department of Commerce.

The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. with an agenda briefing followed by the formal session at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The county must obligate the $400,000 by Sept. 22, 2014, and must have spent all of the money by Dec. 22, 2014. No local match is required.

Criteria include low income and homeowners with special needs in terms of the elderly, handicapped or large families. The objective will be to identify families with the greatest need, including the reatest housing need. That could mean a house requiring major renovations or even replacement.

The county on July 6 sent out requests for proposals to nine companies that were thought to have an interest in administering the grant. Only two, RSM Harris Associates of Goldsboro and the Adams Co. of Warsaw, responded.

County Manager Lee Smith is recommending that the job go to Harris, which has an extensive history with the county having prepared community development grants for the county in 1985, 1992, 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011 -- all of which were successfully funded.

The company managed those projects as well.

Harris' not-to-exceed management price was $63,000, while the Adams Co.'s was $74,000.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners at 10:15 a.m. will take up the issue of five late applications to include property in the present use value program.

All property in the state is generally valued at its market value -- the estimated price at which the property would bought or sold. Present use value is the land's value in its current use as agricultural, horticultural or forestland.

Land that qualifies for the program is assessed at that value instead of its market value. Present use value is usually substantially less than market value, and land in the program is assessed at the lower value meaning lower tax bills.

When property in the program changes hands, the new owner must reapply for the classification.

The county tax office has recommended that the late applications be denied.

The applications were on the board's July 10 agenda, but were removed at the request of Commissioner Steve Keen. Both Keen and Commissioner Jack Best said the people applying for the program should be given an opportunity to speak. None were at the July board meeting.

The total taxes involved in the five cases are $15,000 to $20,000, tax officials said.

Keen suggested that a specific time be set so that the people would know what time they would be able to speak.

Chairman John Bell said the county should "stick by the rules." Bell said he was concerned that people would think they could just be late and come to the board to ask for forgiveness.

Best said he agreed, but that he still wanted to give them a chance to speak.

County Attorney Borden Parker said a letter the county sends out to a person when they acquire land in the program exceeds what is required by state law.

The law allows commissioners to "forgive" the late application if the owner has shown "good cause," he said. However, the law does not spell out what "good cause" is, Parker said.

Also on the agenda:

* Wayne County ABC Board officials will make a presentation on a study by the UNC at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flager Business School. According to the study, the state's retail and business customers graded local ABC stores "A-" while offering suggestions for how the store could be improved.

* The board will consider accepting and endorsing the county's Solid Waste Management Plan.

* Commissioner will be asked to adopt a resolution commending the board of directors of the Goldsboro/Wayne Purple Heart organization for honoring Purple Heart recipients at its annual banquet on Aug. 10.

* Bylaws for the Wayne Executive Jetport Advisory Committee will be brought before commissioners for consideration.

* The board will be asked to approve Olde Mill Creek, section 1 final plat, a 36-lot subdivision on Perkins Road in Stoney Creek Township.

* The public comment section of the meeting will start at 10 a.m.

* A workshop to discuss legislative goals of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners will be held at the end of the regular session.