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County pulls funding from regional agency

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó Rowan County commissioners voted Monday to withhold their annual contribution to the Charlotte Regional Partnership in light of a bonus given to its chief executive officer.
In this yearís budget, the Board of Commissioners cut contributions to the partnership by 10 percent to $36,326, but the money has not yet been paid.
Charlotte Regional Partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant received a 25 percent bonus of $64,630 this year, according to a November report from WSOC-TV.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Jon Barber said, Rowan County residents are still struggling from the recent recession.
ěI have a real problem with the executive director receiving a $60,000 bonus when we have people living in cars,î Barber said at Mondayís board meeting. ěI think we should keep our seat at the table, but I also think we should send a message.î
County Manager Gary Page said he doesnít think the county would be allowed to vote in the organization if it withdraws funding, but he hasnít checked the bylaws.
Commissioner Jim Sides said his complaint about the partnership is that it represents Charlotte, not the region.
ěWhat have we actually gained from the Charlotte Regional Partnership over the last six months?î Sides said.
Commissioner Raymond Coltrain replied that it gives county economic development officials the chance to pursue leads on businesses that may locate in Rowan.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to withdraw the funding. Coltrain dissented, saying he wanted to get more information from RowanWorks economic development.
The board also heard a presentation Monday of the countyís financial audit for fiscal year 2011.
Shane Fox, of Martin Starnes and Associates, said Rowan County was given an unqualified opinion, meaning there were no findings or questioned costs.
The countyís general fund balance totaled $38.9 million on June 30, after a decrease of $1.1 million in the past year.
ěThatís a negative number, but itís positive when you started the year thinking it could be as high as $4 million,î Fox said. ěYour revenue came in higher than what was expected, and your expenditures came in lower.î
He said the countyís available fund balance on June 30 was $19.8 million.
Also at the meeting, the board re-appointed Chad Mitchell as chairman and Carl Ford as vice chairman.

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