Rowan board threatens to split from Centralina Council
By Lee Barnes
Rowan County paid a regional planning agency more than $34,000 last year in dues. Now the county is saying that if the agency doesn’t get a better focus on its mission, Rowan will go its own way.
The agency is the Centralina Council of Governments, with nine counties and 62 municipalities in the region as members. It’s one of 17 regional Councils of Government, also known as COGs, throughout the state.
In addition to the $34,000 in annual dues, Rowan pays an additional $4,000 for an economic developer.
County Commissioner Tina Hall said Monday that Centralina doesn’t have Rowan’s best interests at heart. Centralina, she said, has backed forced annexations that have hurt counties, including Rowan.
“They work against us,” she said, asking the board to vote to stop funding the agency.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain, who represents Rowan on Centralina’s board, vigorously defended Centralina, saying it brings $1.9 million in funding into the county annually.
When the commissioners asked County Manager Gary Page to weigh in on Centralina’s mission, Page said the agency realizes it needs to make some changes.
“In the 1970s, all grant money went through COGs,” he said. “Now, COGs are re-evaluating their own roles. They’re at a crossroads.”
Commissioner Chad Mitchell complained that the issue had been brought before the board too suddenly, without the board getting a chance to properly consider it. Nonetheless, the board went ahead and voted, 3-2, to withhold Centralina funding next year.
With this year’s dues already paid, Hall acknowledged that the vote is, at this point, intended to “send a message” to Centralina that Rowan isn’t happy with how its money is being spent. The board raised the possibility that the matter may be reconsidered at a later date.