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State commission delays action on Rowan County mall loan application

The state’s Local Government Commission voted this afternoon to delay a decision on Rowan County’s $3.95 million loan application for at least 60 days.
The commission’s staff had recommended tabling the application until after the November elections, when three new members will be elected to the five-member Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Vance Holliman, the state’s deputy treasurer, told the state board the purchase of the mall — which has generated considerable controversy in Rowan County – could be a factor in the elections.
“So therefore, if in December, after going through that process, if those candidates, then commissioners, determined there’s public support … I would feel comfortable recommending approval,” he said.
The Local Government Commission must approve borrowing for the state’s municipal and county governments. Rowan officials are seeking approval to borrow $3.425 million to replace what they used from county savings to buy the mall, and the rest for renovations.
The county intends to move some of its departments there, starting with a 10,000-square-foot Board of Elections for which a bid was approved Monday.
At least one member expressed concern that delaying a decision until after the elections would involve the state board in local politics, while others questioned the wisdom of a county buying a mall that still has retail tenants.
The state officials asked Rowan commissioners Chairman Jim Sides and County Manager Gary Page, who attended the meeting, to provide more information about plans for the former mall and about the county’s fund balance, the amount of which was a point of contention for Page and Holliman.
Read more in Wednesday’s Post.

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