04/07/13 — County waiting on plan from Opportunity Center

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County waiting on plan from Opportunity Center

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 7, 2013 1:50 AM

Wayne County commissioners earlier last week voiced concerns that they had not yet seen financial information and a business plan that they requested more than a month ago from the financially troubled Wayne Opportunity Center.

It is information that commissioners said they must have before they can act on a request by center officials that the county forgive an outstanding debt of approximately $30,000.

Center officials had originally asked as well that the county no longer charge it for the recyclables it funnels through the agency to be sold.

However, in a March 19 email to County Manager Lee Smith, center Director John Chance said it is now thought that the center will able to continue to give the county 30 percent of the proceeds it makes on the sale of mixed paper and plastics.

It is possible that commissioners will take another look at the request when they meet on April 16.

Commission Chairman Steve Keen told the board at its Tuesday meeting that he had received a call about Wayne Opportunity Center, but that he had not felt comfortable talking to the caller, whom he did not identify.

Later in the meeting he said the person was the director, but never identified Chance by name.

"When I got off the phone with the individual I pulled out some notes," Keen said. "Then I just happened to see that this was in our (agenda) package in reference to that issue. On page three, paragraph four, 'Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Keen requested a financial and budget plan from Wayne Opportunity Center within the next 30 days.' This was dated Feb. 27. Have you received anything from Wayne Opportunity Center?"

"Other than their sending an email and making a phone call stating they were trying to correct making payments on time, how they were going to handle recyclables, we have not received additional financials," Smith said. "We have not received anything."

Smith said that he and Wayne County Solid Waste Director Tim Rodgers had reviewed some ideas that Chance had been emailed to him.

"They are pretty reasonable," Smith said. "We have to confirm some things. I think they owe 20-some thousand dollars to us. They owe GATEWAY. So it is really just maintaining that process so we could when we have our next work session we could bring that up.

"We are still working with them. We are still carrying them recyclables. The process is moving on and they are looking to make these payments to us. We could call a Solid Waste Committee (meeting) and just do an update. We probably need to call the Solid Waste Committee anyway pre-budget for any recommendations from them."

Smith said that the email indicated that the company that is taking care of the recyclables is actually going to back the center and make sure payments to the county are on time.

"Basically they were wanting to clarify what was actually owed by them and we did clarify that," Smith said. "We got that straight.

"But then they talked about there was a percentage of plastic, papers -- there was a little process that they have to work on and that Mr. Chuck Clodfelter (of Carolina Fibre Corp.) was working on it with them."

At a Feb. 27 meeting Clodfelter told commissioners the recycling company has an investment of more than $100,000 in equipment at the center. He said the company would pay what the center owes the county because he is concerned about the people the center helps.

He said that his company does make some profit by working with Wayne Opportunity, but that he was willing to pay what is due because of his concern for the disabled people the organization helps.

"I think we should be given the information that we have requested basically before we can do anything -- before we can have a work session or anything," said Vice Chairman Ray Mayo. "We need that information as Mr. Keen has pointed out from our meeting. The second thing is that their past due bills, the person that is going to be backing them, has that been done? Do you know?"

Smith said he did not know if that had been forwarded and that he could call after the meeting to see where the financials are.

Commissioner Bill Pate also asked about the business plan outlining how the center would get back into economic solvency -- something that commissioners had asked for as well.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery agreed the information was needed before commissioners could move forward.

"I don't know what the hesitancy is for releasing that," he said. "They should have a current financial and also they are going to have to have some kind of business plan to move forward."