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Board faces another hoop

Rowan County commissioners are holding up another hoop through which they want the school board to jump so the system can build a central office. Commission Vice Chair Craig Pierce says the board will approve financing for a central office only if the complete project comes in at $6 million, including the purchase of land.
Pierce says this, knowing that (a) the goal is unreachable and (b) commissioners would come up with another objection if the school board somehow found a way to meet it.
Commissioners have been running school officials over this obstacle course for decades. Whenever the school board appears to be nearing its goal, commissioners stretch the course out longer with another challenge.
This particular one challenge is familiar. In 2012, commissioners deemed the building school officials wanted to put at 329 S. Main St. as too expensive. They held up the first $6 million hoop. After an architect revised the design to clear that hoop, commissioners turned down the plan because some departments had to be left out. Then they said the city-donated site was too contaminated. Then they said the state’s “no further action” letter on the site was not enough.
You could chalk this up to county frugality if commissioners had not followed that up by buying a mall far bigger than the county needs — at a surprisingly high price. Namdar bought the whole property and outparcels in foreclosure in 2012 for $2.5 million and recently sold one parcel, holding Bojangles, for $1.2 million. Yet commissioners agreed to pay $3.425 million for the remainder.
The financing of this purchase and some improvements — $3.9 million total — is so inconsequential that it resides on commissioners’ consent agenda Monday. No discussion planned. And the central office school officials await word on? Not even on the agenda.
Why are commissioners so tight with the central office dollar and loosey-goosey with the mall? Why put important matters on the consent agenda to be glossed over when the public is due a full explanation? Why play coy on intentions for the mall?
The powers that be are said to be stalling until they can get more like-minded people on the school board and county commission in this year’s elections. They may get their wish; many voters are disgusted with the current political climate and have unplugged. But voices of discord are sounding off across the county over a variety of issues, from the mall to the veterans service office to school funding and more. It’s one thing to go it alone without Salisbury’s involvement and another to go it alone without citizen involvement. This stalling tactic might not work out the way commissioners planned.

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