County, city hold talks

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 09:38 PM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners and Sanford City Council voted Tuesday night to form a subcommittee with representatives from each respective board to discuss interlocal agreements.

The two governmental bodies met for a joint meeting to discuss the 15 interlocal agreements Tuesday night at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center.

Lee County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks suggested the commissioners submit a new letter to the council with their concerns and, per Commissioner Amy Dalrymple’s suggestion, select three members from each board to discuss each agreement. Then a date would be set for the two full boards to meet again with a facilitator, possibly from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Government, he said.Sanford City Council member Rebecca Wyhof said both boards are interested in looking out for the taxpayers. Keeping the Planning and Development Department intact — the main interlocal agreement discussed during the meeting — is an important service for the residents and saves the two government entities from duplicating services, Wyhof said

Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack, who originally suggested the county take over Planning and Development for itself, said he is aware of how the county has been served in the past, but is apprehensive about the future.

“My big concern is we are not ready to embrace the shale gas industry,” said Womack, who serves as the chairman of the N.C. Energy and Mining Commission. “If we don’t start immediately doing the things we need to do, we will be behind the power curve.”

Sanford City Council member Samuel Gaskins said he was surprised by conservative board of commissioners for wanting to expand government by duplicating services.

“I think all of us are intending to cut back, not expand, government,” Gaskins said.

Womack said oil and gas industry leaders are anticipating drilling in Lee County in two years and the county should not be “fettered and shackled and not able to exploit the blessing Lee County has in natural resources.”

The two boards also discussed changing the sales tax redistribution, but did not take any formal action. A full story on the discussion will be available in Thursday’s edition of The Herald.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners will also meet with the Broadway Board of Commissioners at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Broadway Community Building, located at 111 N. Main St., Broadway, to discuss the sales tax redistribution and interlocal agreements.