Sides tells commissioners he will not support downtown central office

  • Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 2:22 p.m.

By Nathan Hardin

SALISBURY — Chairman Jim Sides will not write a letter supporting the downtown central office, nor will he add a discussion of the project to the agenda “at anytime in the near future,” according to an email Sides sent commissioners Wednesday.

Salisbury City Council sent a letter to the county requesting a letter of support for the downtown central office for the local school system following the council’s meeting Tuesday night.

But Sides wasn’t having it.

Sides, who has not returned repeated calls from the Post, told commissioners he plans to stand by the 3-2 vote held earlier this year rejecting the use of county tax dollars for the downtown central office.

“I will not be writing a letter of support or opposition for this project. I will not be calling a special meeting to vote in support or opposition of this project. I will not be adding a discussion of this project to our agenda at anytime in the near future,” Sides wrote Wednesday.

Sides added he would be open to hearing thoughts from his fellow commissioners.

“Three commissioners, if they so choose,  may override the decisions I have outlined above at any time,” he wrote. “I certainly welcome your input and will comply with your wishes. However, I will continue to comply with what the majority of this board has decided in the past until that position changes.”

Sides has long opposed the downtown central office site, but said earlier this year he would not vote to stop the project.

He clarified his position Wednesday, saying the project’s end result is the city’s doing.

“I wish the City of Salisbury well with their application to the Local Government Commission, if they desire to proceed. However, this is in no way an endorsement of this project, nor of their actions to credit the Board of County Commissioners and county staff with its failure,” Sides wrote. “This is a stand alone project for the City of Salisbury. They are the lone stakeholder, and this project will succeed or fail on its own merits. The Board of County Commissioners is in no way involved.”

The Local Government Commission must approve local governments’ borrowing. Salisbury recently withdrew its application to the state agency, with city officials saying county officials had questioned its legality and that they feared it could end up in court if approved.

Sides said he has “never supported” the idea of Salisbury agreeing to fund the downtown central office project but added he has never contacted the Local Government Commission about the project.

“The City of Salisbury then inserted themselves as a stakeholder in this project by agreeing to fund and build the central office for the school system. I have never supported this idea in the past,” he said. “Neither have I taken any public action, locally or with the Local Government Commission in Raleigh, to oppose this project, as is continually reported by the local media.”

The Post has not reported that Sides was in contact with the Local Government Commission.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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