LEE COUNTY: Commissioners will consider revisions to its Code of Ethics

Feb. 17, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

One commissioner has requested references discouraging commissioners from making pledges be struck from the Lee County Board of Commissioners' Code of Ethics during the board's upcoming meeting.

Lee County Commissioners will discuss revising the board's code of ethics, among other items, during its regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Drive.

The discussion of commissioners making pledges or promises arose during the recent election when three of the six commissioner candidates signed the Commissioners' Covenant with the Citizens of Lee County, which outlined a set of pledges that governs the actions of the commissioners if elected.

Commissioner Kirk Smith, a signer of the Commissioners' Covenant with the Citizens of Lee County, asked for the revisions to be placed on the agenda.

During the campaign, Commissioners Amy Dalrymple and Ricky Frazier called the Commissioners' Covenant unethical and in violation of board's code of ethics.

The parts of the code of ethics that would be eliminated are commissioners "should not make pledges or promise of conduct in office that they will not or cannot perform or would be illegal if it were performed," and commissioners "should avoid pledges or promises of conduct in office other than the faithful and impartial performance of the duties of their office."

The revisions would also remove a paragraph that encourages county commissioners to join civic organizations, attend political meetings and "advocate and support the principles or politics of a civic or political organization." 

Other items on the agenda:

* Mineral rights and oil and gas leases in Lee County presentation

Why it matters: The natural gas industry is set to arrive in Lee County as early next year, for vertical drilling, and the next two to three years for horizontal drilling, according to Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack, who serves as the chairman of the N.C. Energy and Mining Committee. The Lee County Strategic Services Department has reviewed land deeds and developed a GIS layer – or map highlighting a particular criteria in Lee County —  for mineral rights ownerships and natural gas and oil leases in the county. The map, according to the agenda, is designed to give land owners and gas or oil speculators a basis for ownership of the mineral rights to see if there could be potential title issues. The map shouldn't substitute a full title search by an attorney, according to the agenda. The map can be accessed at http://lee2.connectgis.com/Map.aspx

* Approve a letter in support of Central Carolina Hospital from the county

Why it matters: Central Carolina Hospital intends to expand its current Emergency Department and is soliciting a letter of support by the Lee County Commissioners to give to the North Carolina Division Health Service Regulation. Before any hospital can expand, add or replace its facilities, it must have a certificate of need from the state.

According to a letter by Lee County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks, CCH's Emergency Department is operating at capacity and in need of an expansion.

"As a result, patient wait times have increased over the last several years," Parks wrote. "The proposed Emergency Department expansion is necessary to meet the needs of our community."