County extends incentives agreement

Published 2:18 am Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In a 4-1 vote Monday, the county board of commissioners extended an incentive agreement with Southern Power for two years.

A letter from a Southern Power employee to the county states that the company will be unable to build another power generating plant by Jan. 1, 2015 — a date that was chosen in the initial incentive agreement. Southern Power already operates a plant in Rowan county.

The newer facility would be located at 5755 N.C. Highway 801 and represent a total investment of about $400 million, according to the initial agreement.

An option to extend the agreement for two years was actually included in the original incentive package, which economic development director Robert Van Geons stated multiple times on Monday.

The initial incentives package called for a 68 percent tax break over five years.

The only commissioner who voted against the proposal was chairman Jim Sides, who said he wasn’t voting against Southern Power by voting no, but rather voting against the principle of incentives.

Sides spoke extensively about how granting incentives may not lead to companies hiring more workers. And questioned why more local businesses don’t receive incentives. By voting in favor, Sides said commissioners would be picking and choosing which businesses succeed.

I’m not voting against Southern Power,” Sides said. “They’ve been a good corporate sponsor good neighbor. I want them to expand. I’m not voting against jobs. I’m voting against incentives.”

Just after Sides, commissioner Mike Caskey briefly talked about the benefits of incentives and said that a company doesn’t necessarily have to hire additional workers to boost the local economy.

Vice-Chairman Craig Pierce also briefly commented on the extension proposal, asking if another county had granted similar incentives. Pierce then asked if the incentive package was fairly common. He received an affirmative answer to both questions.

In other news from the meeting:

• Commissioners approved the schedule of values, which helps determine the worth of property.

Commissioner Jon Barber praised the staff who put together the schedule of values and said figures were relatively similar to previous years.

• Commissioners approved a memorandum of agreement between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commissioner and Rowan county government.

In the agreement, Sides said the state agreed to build a fishing pier at Dan Nicholas Park and pay for all construction costs.

• The county commissioners voted to specify two seats on the Rowan County Housing Board as being specifically for a resident of Kannapolis and East Spencer.

Both Kannapolis and East Spencer contain housing complexes owned by the housing authority.

Previously, a resolution between Kannapolis and the Housing Board was in place, but it didn’t restrict county commissioners.

• Commissioners voted to accept a Gazebo from the Terry Fries Family for Ellis Park. The item was initially on the consent agenda, but vice-chair Craig Pierce moved it off of the consent agenda because he said he wanted to recognize the couple that donated the gazebo.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246