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New application for county borrowing heads to LGC

Rowan County commissioners directed county staff to ship off another application to the Local Government Commission at Monday’s meeting.
After commissioners voted earlier this month to rescind the application to the agency to approve borrowing $3.9 million for the purchase of and renovations at West End Plaza, commissioners since created a new application and added another $2.7 million for other projects.
The application includes borrowing money to pay for a new heating and air system at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, 10 T-hangars and a new office building at Rowan County Airport as well as renovations at Rowan County Animal Shelter.
Commissioners approved having a three-quarter cent tax hike for the projects, which was included in the budget they also approved at the meeting.
“I think all this shows is that the commissioners are on board and on the job as far as realizing the different things that the county needs as opposed to just one item,” Pierce said. “That is the whole reason why this (application) has been put together.”
The county has made a huge investment in the community college, Pierce said, and the application is furthering the investment in the college.
“It is something that needs to be done, and we don’t want to take it out of fund balance. That is why it is in this proposal,” Pierce said.
Airport officials told commissioners there are 11 confirmed rentals at the site’s hangars, Pierce said.
“When you build a T-hangar, you have to be smart enough to know that you have to pay for it. To pay for it costs $450,000. The only way that we’re able to do this is because we are using our Vision 100 money from the airport for years 2013 and 2014, which would take care of $200,000 worth of the cost,” Pierce said. “Plus, the N.C. Department of Transportation has agreed to pick up the difference because of this one project.”
There are people in the community who are uninformed or misinformed about the county’s projects and “don’t try to tell the truth,” Pierce said, which creates problems for the county to get an application through.
“Those people – I wish would just stay home and talk with their wives,” Pierce said. “We know what we’re doing here, we’re going to move forward, and as time moves forward – you are going to see that everything we are doing here is going to be the best thing for this county.”
Pierce said the county is looking to borrow the money for improvements at the animal shelter, and there are “other things that are going to be happening at the shelter that we can’t tell you about right now.”
“We are moving forward toward no-kill. I told you from the very start, it’s not going to be like flipping a light switch,” Pierce said. “It takes time, and it takes money.”
The county does not have the money to pay for the improvements at the animal shelter by taking the dollars out of fund balance, Pierce said, even if the fund balance stood at 12 percent.
“That is why we approved the three-quarter cent tax increase tonight, so we can borrow this money and make the improvements to make this a better county,” Pierce said. “This is what we need to do.”
Pierced moved commissioners approve the county instructing staff and employees to prepare the bids, set the public hearing and move the process forward to do what the county needs to do for citizens.
Commissioner Jon Barber voted against the motion.
Barber sought to clarify the fee associated with sending an application to the LGC.
“I want some clarification on the number that was thrown out at the last meeting, because I’ve gotten asked this question a lot,” Barber said. “There seemed to have been a number that was said at the last meeting (indicating the application) would cost us $100,000.”
Rowan County Finance Director Leslie Heidrick said the fee the county pays for an installment financing application to the LGC is $1,250.
“Then we will have attorney fees. For the West End Plaza and the financing that didn’t go through, I’m estimating that was between $10,000 and $15,000,” Heidrick said.
Barber asked fellow commissioners if the community college HVAC system, airport additions and animal shelter renovations could be broken out separately, to which Commissioner Chad Mitchell said the county doesn’t want to fill out four separate applications and pay four different fees.
Barber called the application “an all-or-nothing thing.”
“We don’t want to submit something that has the potential of not getting approved, either,” Barber said. “Since the debt financing of the mall was so controversial, even though it may cost us an application fee for each one, would it not make more sense that is what we do for the LGC to ensure that at least the other ones can get approved?”
Barber’s efforts were fruitless.

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