10/01/13 — County commission, city council meet, weigh issues

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County commission, city council meet, weigh issues

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on October 1, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners wrapped up their series of meetings with the county's seven municipalities Monday with a morning meeting with the Goldsboro City Council.

The meetings were billed as a way for the commissioners to "break bread" with the municipal officials to better understand the issues facing them as well as gather information for a comprehensive land use plan for the county, Commission Chairman Steve Keen said.

The commissioners plan to start the planning process in November or December and hope to have a plan in place by March or April, Keen said.

Councilman Chuck Allen brought up the issue of how to develop infrastructure at key roadway interchanges. He focused mainly on how to adequately provide water and sewer to high-traffic areas that will be expected to develop commercially.

The county controls the interchanges that are in unincorporated areas, but Allen said a mutual agreement is needed to develop them successfully. The interchanges along I-795 were specifically mentioned.

Discussion then turned to a possible partnership to put forth a local match needed for the U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant projects centered around the proposed GATEWAY transfer facility.

The city received a $10 million grant that requires local money to get the federal dollars.

GATEWAY is a jointly owned and operated transportation network operated by the city and county.

About 70 percent of the operational costs are born by the city, City Manager Scott Stevens said.

The required match for the GATEWAY transfer station would be about $700,000 for the building and another $300,000 for the site work surrounding Union Station. The site work at the station is of interest to the county because it would allow GATEWAY's rural transport vans to park in the south lot of Union Station.

"It's a need in the community and a great opportunity get a $4 to 5 million facility for less than a million dollars," Stevens said.

Allen said if the project is not done in partnership the county would need to pay rent to store its vehicles on the site.

He suggested having a facilities meeting to make sure the commissioners knew what type of facility they were talking about in a transfer facility.

"The problem is overall cost of the project. The cost of the project is too high," Commissioner Joe Daughtery said. "We're looking at $5.1 million for a transfer station. If you can just get that cost down."

Daughtery said he would rather the city reduce the costs of the transfer facility and put more of the grant money elsewhere.

Keen said he expects the county will hammer out a match in next year's budget for the facility.

The two boards then talked about sharing the expense of upkeep on jointly owned properties.

"We shouldn't bear all the burden and then the city and county split the money," Allen said.

The city and county recoup money from jointly owned properties in sale costs and tax levies.

"For once I agree with Chuck," Councilman Bill Broadaway said. "If they want to do cost-sharing, we have about 10 on schedule to demolish right now."

Daughtery said that while he is a novice when it comes to conveying properties between the county and a municipality, it seems one-sided to only share in the expenses of a property and not the profit.

Commissioner Bill Pate agreed that cost sharing would be fair but said he needs to know more about the properties proposed.

"We need to look at it from an improvement portion before we jump into talking about cost-sharing," Commissioner Ed Cromartie said. "We need to worry about improving the landscape of the county. There is not significant money at stake with these properties."

Commissioner Wayne Aycock said the main objective was to get the property back on the tax books for the city and the county.

Near the end of the meeting, Allen brought up the subject of schools.

"I'm not calling anybody slack but we need to talk about schools, a lot of company chief executives don't want to live here. They want to move to Clayton because of the schools," Allen said. "The inner city schools need attention."

Commissioner Ray Mayo said that with the issue of improving the schools, the ball is in the county Board of Education's court. The county provides the funding, but the school board is autonomous, he said.

Keen closed by saying that he believes commissioners and the City Council should meet annually. Allen said quarterly meetings would benefit both boards.