LEE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: Board debates draft economic incentive policies

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners debated a variety of draft economic incentive policies and guidelines during Monday’s board meeting.

The commissioners agreed not to vote on the proposed draft and instead agreed to meet this week with leaders within the Lee County Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the policy.

EDC Interim Director Crystal Morphis said she was concerned about not giving incentives to a company unless Lee County was competing with a jurisdiction outside North Carolina because it would put the county at a disadvantage. She also expressed concern with limiting incentives to a company that may directly compete with a current Lee County business.

Commissioner Jim Womack said this would not prohibit larger companies from “clustering” and the county should consider a waiver if the existing Lee County business also received an economic incentive.    

The draft county economic incentive policy includes the following conditions:

*  An incentive will not be considered for a new or existing business unless Lee County is competing with a jurisdiction outside North Carolina.

* An incentive will not be considered for a new or existing business if that business is located in another North Carolina county.

* The new business must create and maintain 25 new, full-time jobs. Unlike the original draft, this does not apply to existing businesses expanding.

* An existing industry in Lee County will be required to maintain an agreed upon number of jobs during the duration of the incentive period.

*A new business must create at least $20 million in new investment. An existing company must invest a minimum of $5 million to be considered for an incentive.

The full incentive list is available online at www.sanfordherald.com.

The draft policy was originally proposed during the last commissioners’ meeting. Commissioners agreed to table the policy until information could be solicited by the EDC and Chamber of Commerce. The policy was sent to Sanford City Manager Hal Hegwer and Broadway Town Manager Bob Stevens, Crumpton said, but no feedback on the policy was returned.

In other matters, commissioners:

* Approved a three-year lease for the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department gymnastics facility at Moore Business Park. The lease is $36,000 per year for three years. More than 600 students have enrolled in the gymnastics program, according to Parks and Recreation Director John Payne.

* Approved a resolution enacting a county hiring freeze, canceling all capital purchases except for emergencies and reduce spending to “what the county manager deems as necessary for operations to continue at a basic level” to cover this year’s $3.1 million budget shortfall. The county is expecting a reduction in state and federal revenues and current sales tax revenues are projected to fall 5 percent below budget for the current fiscal year, according to the resolution.