County considers new policy requiring nonprofits to follow ‘sunshine’ laws

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Any nonprofit group wanting taxpayer dollars will have to comply with the state’s public records and meetings laws under a proposed new county policy.
On Monday, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners is set to review samples of contracts and agreements used by other counties to ensure that agencies getting county funds follow the provisions of what are sometimes referred to as “sunshine laws.”
Commissioner Jim Sides has provided commissioners with samples of contracts and agreements from Forsyth, Buncombe and Cumberland counties.
Sides is asking the board to empower him and another commissioner to prepare a policy that will apply all nonprofit agencies getting county money.
The county currently provides $1 million to 20 or more nonprofit agencies or organizations.
During a meeting earlier this month, commissioners were unanimous in saying that Rowan Jobs Initiative should turn over its records to the county for inspection. The county provided $325,000 over four years before opting to pull funding for the current fiscal year.
The nonprofit organization, which began as the Committee of 100, was created to assist the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission in recruiting businesses and jobs.
Rowan Jobs Initiative created the brand “Available for Work” and has used it to target site consultants, the specialists who find sites for businesses and industries.
Rowan Jobs Initiative officials initially refused to provide records but have reversed course and assured commissioners they’ll get the records.
In other business Monday, commissioners will:
– Consider disbanding the Land Use Plan Steering Committee which completed its work on Aug. 11. The land-use study is scheduled to go before the Rowan County Planning Board on Aug. 25.
– Consider an increase in the tipping fee for Davie County waste disposed at Rowan’s landfill. County Manager Gary L. Page is recommending a $3 per ton increase, which will still be lower than the out-of-county rate charged by other landfills in the area.
– Discuss changing the format of the county commissioners’ meetings by making one session each month a work session with no votes.
In a memo to commissioners, Page noted the work session may allow commissioners more time to discuss issues, but the change could result in two long meetings, particularly during the political season “allowing for political rhetoric.”
– Consider a hefty budget amendment รณ allocating $1.6 million.
The amendment represents financial housekeeping transferring funds previously earmarked for projects to the 2008-09 budget.
For example, the largest amount is $595,000 remaining to be spent on the new EMS station at North Shaver and East Council streets.
The Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the J. Newton Cohen Administration Building, 130 W. Innes St.