County manager sets off stream of e-mails

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Editor’s note: Here are excerpts of e-mails exchanged among public officials this week about the N.C. Research Campus and tax increment financing. It all started with an e-mail from a citizen to County Manager John Day:

From Kannapolis resident Jo Stephens: I am a lifelong resident of Kannapolis and Cabarrus County. … I am very concerned about the county’s current position relating to supporting the NCRC project.

It seems to me the county wants to use the additional tax money the NCRC generates in other parts of the county not in Kannapolis. Last time I checked, most of Kannapolis was in Cabarrus County. …

The county has a history of not supporting “new, forward-thinking projects” in Kannapolis. An example is the Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium and the surrounding park and softball fields that were supposed to be in Cabarrus County. The stadium was built but the county chose not to participate and no parks or fields were built. …

It is time for the county to show its faith in this project and participate 100 percent in the TIF bonds.

From John Day: Thank you for taking the time to write and express your opinion. …

The board itself has not yet reached a decision as to whether it will spend taxpayers’ money to subsidize the Castle & Cooke office park, commonly referred to as the North Carolina Research Campus.

Business incentives and subsidies are policy decisions made by governing boards, not by public administrators like me.

The Board of Commissioners has on many occasions, over the course of many years, granted incentives to many new and expanding businesses. I don’t think any governing board really desires to spend taxpayers’ money on business incentives, but in most communities, ours included, it is a necessity.

My primary concern in the case of the NCRC, however, is the absolutely astounding amount of the public subsidy being sought by Castle & Cooke.

From Mike Legg, Kannapolis city manager: Goal number one …. get John to quit referring to the NCRC as an “office park.” (see his response below to a Kannapolis resident). It is obviously intentional — likely an attempt to minimize the impact so as to support his opposing views. Similarly, his use of the word “subsidy” is nothing more than an attempt to paint the TIF in a negative light.

From Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Castle & Cooke: I suppose we have not done a very good job helping Mr. Day understand the nature of the North Carolina Research Campus. Characterizing it as Castle & Cooke Inc.’s “office park” clearly shows a lack of understanding of the monumental impact this project will have for our citizens, their economic well-being and the future of our children.

From John Day: Lynne, I understand your perspective. If I worked for Castle & Cooke, then I’d argue for as large a subsidy as possible. It’s your job, and I admire you for it.

From Darrell Hinnant, Kannapolis City Council member: John has been opposed to this project all along. Everyone has known it. We should stop trying to “tippy-toe” around him in hopes that we will change his mind. It is not about the numbers whether it is $76 million or $160 million. We can only speculate about his real motives.

We can only hope that the BOC will see through the logic, the opportunity and economic impact for all the citizens of Cabarrus County. Hopefully they (we) will arrive at a number that is best for our entire community.

From Grace Mynatt, Cabarrus County Commissioner: Speaking for myself, I have myriad questions about all phases of the project that I need to have answered by a neutral party: not John Day, not Mike Legg, not Lynne Safrit, citizen e-mailers or anyone other than financial and legal advisers to our board who will give me the necessary factual information I need.