02/26/13 — County leaders to visit college

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County leaders to visit college

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 26, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners will hold two special work sessions Wednesday morning.

At 8 a.m., they will meet as the county's Solid Waste Committee to take up a request by the financially struggling Wayne Opportunity Center that commissioners forgive a $26,000 debt it owes the county.

The second session will start at 11 a.m., when they will meet with Mount Olive College officials at the school.

The first meeting will be held at the county's Solid Waste Department office at the Dudley landfill, while the second will be held at the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center on the college campus.

Commissioner Wayne Aycock serves as chairman of the Solid Waste Committee that will discuss forgiving the $26,000 as well as a second request by the Wayne Opportunity Center that the county provide its recyclables materials free of cost.

Currently, the county supplies the recyclables that are sold by Wayne Opportunity Center. In turn, 30 percent of the revenue from those sales is funneled back to the county.

The problem has been that sales have not generated the money needed to repay the county.

John Chance, the center's executive director, and Jeff Parnell, chairman of its board of directors, appealed t0 commissioners at their earlier this month to forgive the debt in order to help the agency stay solvent and continue to serve its clients.

A decline in recycling revenues and state funding and an $88,000 annual loss that came when the city of Goldsboro took its recycling business elsewhere severely hurt the center financially. It recently laid off 18 employees and eliminated the vocational rehabilitation program that it had operated for more than 35 years.

Wednesday's meeting was suggested by County Manager Lee Smith, who said that commissioners needed to better understand the county's recycling program and the effect granting the agency's request would have.

Using the Wayne Opportunity Center saves the county money. However, selling the materials on the free market could generate more than $150,000 annually for the county's money-making solid waste department, Smith said.

Smith said that commissioners needed to understand the economic impact on the Solid Waste Department and county budget before making a decision.

College officials said that commission Chairman Steve Keen had suggested the Mount Olive College meeting as a way for commissioners to learn more about the school.

The meeting will include presentations by college department heads, lunch, and a tour of the campus. The idea is to provide a better understanding of the college's economic impact on the county, college officials said.