Plenty of issues await commissioners at planning retreat this week

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
County commissioners will discuss land use, a school system central office and a possible hike in the local sales tax during a three-day retreat starting Tuesday.
Commissioners traditionally don’t vote on any matters during the retreat, but typically take straw votes on issues ó particularly those involving money ó to give the county manager direction in crafting the upcoming budget.
The retreat will be at the Tadlock South Rowan Library, 920 Kimball Road in China Grove. The retreat starts at 8 a.m. and runs to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. A half day is scheduled for Thursday. It’s open to the public.
On Tuesday, commissioners will hear from department heads reviewing various programs and needs. Commissioners are scheduled to hear a total of 17 presentations that day.
The big-ticket items come front and center on Wednesday.
Rowan-Salisbury School System officials will meet with commissioners starting at 8:15 a.m. to discuss options for new administrative offices.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom and Gene Miller, assistant superintendent of operations, are scheduled to review and evaluate how county funds are spent for education, as well as the future direction of the school system.
County officials also hope to get an idea of what the school system’s budget expectations are for the coming year.
County Manager Gary Page will discuss options for additional county jail space.
Officials are considering some type of facility on Airport Road to house 100 or more inmates. State officials have threatened to close the county jail because of overcrowding. The county has been leasing jail space in Sampson County for more than a year.
Commissioners have set aside most of Wednesday afternoon for a discussion of the land-use plan developed last year.
The plan underwent substantial changes by the County Planning Board, which took out much of the farm preservation language and made it more developer-friendly.
Commissioners split over the issue and opted not to go forward, essentially putting it off until after new commissioners took office Dec. 1.
On Thursday, the final day of the retreat, commissioners will hear a presentation on economic development, including marketing and job creation.
Commissioners will get an update on the budget and have an opportunity to prioritize projects for the coming year.
Discussion regarding a referendum on a quarter-cent sales tax is included in the financial assessment, which starts at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Once the county manager lays out the county’s financial situation, commissioners are scheduled to review their 2008 goals and decide on the goals for the coming year.
The retreat is scheduled to end at noon Thursday.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.