Commissioners will hear economic growth plan report

Jan. 06, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

After months of interviews and research, the Lee County Board of Commissioners will receive findings and recommendations stemming from a newly-created county economic growth plan during the board's upcoming meeting.

Southern Grown Policies Board Executive Director Ted Abernathy and N.C. State University Business and Technology Extension Service State Program Director Dan Parks are scheduled to present their findings at 6 p.m. Monday at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Drive.

The pair were charged with identifying the best practices for county economic development, including focus, organizational structure, collaboration and funding models, laying the groundwork for future work and turning feedback from community leaders into goals for the long-term growth of the county.

According to the report, some of the key recommendations include telling the "Lee County story" better, directly engaging the private sector in the economic development process, focusing more effort on workforce development, creating an "entrepreneur ecosystem" and exploring new options for wealth generations.

The new group of commissioners should meet in January for an economic development retreat to facilitate discussion and possibility hold a community-wide economic development summit to "establish a shared understanding of the county's current economic situation," according to other items in the report.

Other items on Monday's agenda include:

What: Appointment of new county commissioner, Andre Knecht

Why it matters: Former Lee County Commissioner Chairman Linda Shook announced her resignation of her District 3 seat in early December, citing a business-related move to Nevada. The executive committee of the Lee County Republican Party nominated Knecht, owner of Knecht Chiropractic Center and long-time party member, to fill Shook's unexpired term.

Local GOP Chairman Charles Staley said Knecht is "a man of high moral standards, sound principles and good judgment.

"As a small business owner, he understands the economic principles that need to be applied in achieving job growth and overall property," Staley said previously.

Knecht is set to be sworn in at the very start of the 6 p.m. meeting.  

What: Reorganization of the Environmental Affairs Board

Why it matters: During the previous Board of Commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Jim Womack suggested reorganizing the the Environmental Affairs Board because "Lee County is on the verge of major new industrial developments in the highly technical and complex energy fields of horizontal drilling for natural gas and biofuels" and in need of a board with technical training and professional experience.

Under the proposal, the EAB would become the Environmental Review & Advisory Committee with current members of the EAB with qualifying expertise able to transfer to the new board.

EAB Chairman Brooks Gage is scheduled to appear before the board Monday with a PowerPoint presentation to "show what work the EAB has done in the past, an overview of existing by-laws and skill sets of membership," according to county documents.

Commissioners should consider creating a better review board without disbanding the existing Environmental Affairs Board,  Gage said.

What: A request from Lee County Schools for security equipment

Why it matters: Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss is expected to request funds to ramp up security on all 16 campuses in the district that include securing the front entrances of all the schools and to install electronic locks at all secondary entrances. Moss said previously he was in the process of soliciting bids, but the proposed measures would cost around $300,000. School officials considered the additional security for some time, he said, but the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of 26 people acted as a catalyst.

What: Consider appointments to the Board of Equalization and Review

Why it matters: The Lee County Board of Equalization and Review hears appeals from taxpayers who own or control taxable property regarding their new property tax values, set to be released at the end of this month. There are four openings on the board and three openings on the alternative board. The county has received applications from Allen Sloan, John Ramsperger, Robert Garrett, Mike McDonald, Al Rushatz, Herb Hincks, Cindy Ammons, Frank Del Palazzo and Harry Stryffeler.

What: Request for a joint meeting between the Lee County Commissioners and Town of Broadway Commissioners

Why it matters: The Broadway Board of Commissioners requested a meeting with the Lee County Board of Commissioners to discuss the county's recent decision to examine a change in the sales tax distribution. According to an email sent by Broadway Mayor Donald Andrews, "We are extremely concerned about this issue, and our board would like to sit down and express our concerns and reservations. We think this meeting would be beneficial to you and your board in that you can cover your ideas and give us your thoughts as to why this would help Broadway."

If the Lee County Commissioners vote to change the sales tax redistribution from the population-based per capita model to the  ad valorem method, county coffers would see an increase of $1.4 million and a decline of $1.4 million for Sanford and $80,000 for Broadway.