Andrew Dunn at the StarNews has a piece about the complete and utter lack of logic regarding taxpayer funded projects in Brunswick County. What becomes apparent is that commissioner’s whims are more likely to get projects funded than any type of logic or consistency. Hat’s off to Dunn for the documentation. What will the citizens think when they see this one? Here’s the documentation:
Type of project: Five-year commitment to help Lower Cape Fear Hospice build a new facility.
Approved: June 21, 2010, but a change was approved July 18 of this year to make it a cash donation instead of labor and services.
Cost: $250,000 over five years
Why approved: Commissioner Phil Norris said the board viewed this project as something that could benefit everybody in the county, and thus an effective use of money.
Type of project: Land clearing, other assistance to Brunswick First Tee, a nonprofit that helps kids learn life lessons through golf.
Denied: January for the first request, and again May 25.
Cost: $113,000 for first request, $100,000 for the second request.
Why denied: Commissioners said that the request was too large for this year’s budget, and the project wouldn’t impact everyone in the community.
Type of project: Land for the local Boys and Girls Club to build a headquarters.
Cost: No direct cost, but the county would lose control over 7.18 acres for 99 years.
Denied: June 6
Why denied: Commissioners were concerned because the club did not have money to build the building, and several stated that they get requests like this regularly and can’t grant them all. Commissioner Charles Warren voted in favor of the request.
Type of project: Land clearing and preliminary site work to create a new industrial park on county-owned land off N.C. 211.
Approved: June 20 as part of the budget.
Why approved: Assistant County Manager Steve Stone said the commissioners wanted to have another option for businesses looking to relocate to the county. Norris and Warren stated that they give precedence to economic development projects that could bring in more jobs to the county.
Type of project: Water service to the Middle River Road area in Supply, a predominantly minority community close to the county landfill.
Denied: Residents have appealed to the county commissioners at public meetings regularly over the past year.
Cost: $1.6 million
Why denied: Commissioners point to a prioritization schedule for water projects that factors in the density of population and distance from current water lines. There have been no proven quality of life issues in the residents’ well water.
Type of project: An environmental survey that would lead to dredging the boat ramp area at Brunswick River Park.
Approved: May 2
Cost: $7,500, but the permit process would likely cost between $19,000 and $36,000 in the near future. Ultimately, the ramp dredging would cost $500,000 and is currently in the plan for 2013.
Why approved: Commissioners said increasing public water access is one of their priorities, and the county has already invested a lot of money in this currently nearly unusable ramp.
Type of project: A new animal control officer position, which the health department says is necessary to effectively respond to animal complaints.
Denied: Feb. 21
Cost: About $43,500 annually, including benefits. This figure is taken from averaging the salaries of the other employees with this position.
Why denied: “I am sure the position is needed, but we are about to be faced by a budget like we have never been seen before,” Norris said at the meeting at which the request was denied. “Every penny counts to me right now,” Commissioner Scott Phillips said. The commissioners felt this was a position where the department could make do.
Type of project: A new, more advanced and reliable radio system for the sheriff’s office and emergency services department.
Approved: Jan. 17
Cost: $2 million
Why approved: Cooke said this was an acute need for public safety officers, who felt hampered by an unreliable system. Several commissioners list public safety as one of their top priorities.
Type of project: Raises for county employees
Denied: May, as the commissioners considered the budget
Cost: $2.2 million for a 5 percent raise. $1.2 million for a $1,000 bonus. $90,526 for a cost of living increase for employees falling below a certain threshold.
Why denied: Several commissioners supported pay increases if money could be found in the budget. They ultimately decided it could not. Norris said raises for county employees would be a slap in the face to residents in the private sector who are being laid off.
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