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Commissioners to remain on some boards after terms end

When terms for Rowan County’s three outgoing commissioners end, two of them may not entirely be removed from county government.

Commissioner Chad Mitchell and Chairman Jim Sides both serve on boards that don’t coincide with terms as heads of county government. Mitchell serves on the Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions Board, and his term expires at the end of December 2015. Sides serves as chairman of the Department of Social Services Board. Sides’ term expires on June 30, 2016.

Every year, commissioners are assigned to various boards as a part of their tenure at the top of county government. The appointments are decided by the board’s chairman and, in many cases, the appointments don’t change from year to year, if commissioners are satisfied with their role, current Vice Chairman Craig Pierce said.

Some boards directly coincide with the commissioner position, such as the county’s Personnel Board or Rufty-Holmes Senior Center Board. In those instances, the appointed person must be a commissioner. When a commissioner’s term expires, he or she would subsequently leave their appointed board positions as well.

In some cases, commissioners can stay on their appointed boards — Mitchell and Sides, for example.

When asked, Mitchell said he would leave the Cardinal Innovations board if the new commissioners asked.

“To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it that much,” he said. “I’ll do whatever the new board of commissioners decides.”

Sides did not respond to requests for comment. In October, the board of commissioners approved a measure that would allow Sides to keep his county email address because of his role on the county’s Department of Social Services Board. He was first appointed to the board in 2005.

Commissioner Jon Barber serves on the Tourism Development Authority Board, but his term expires in December. Barber said any commissioner should resign from board appointments following the end of a term.

“I say that because we really do need a current member of the board of commissioners to serve on these boards,” Barber said.

Useful or not?

For the most part, current commissioners said their presence is useful on the boards.

Pierce said the importance varies depending on the type of board.

“For example, for the Personnel Board, it’s naturally important for us to be there because both of the members are commissioners,” Pierce said.

Pierce also mentioned Rufty-Holmes Senior Center as a board on which commissioners are important because a portion of the center’s funding comes out of the county’s budget.

Mitchell echoed Pierce, saying the relative usefulness depends on how the board intends to use the commissioner’s position as a head of county government.

“(Commissioners) can be a wealth of knowledge and can guide a board through some processes that they wouldn’t have information about otherwise,” Mitchell said

Mitchell has been a commissioner for 12 years. He started in 2002 and will leave the board at the end of November. A member of the Cardinal Innovations board since early 2013, Mitchell said the number of boards to which commissioners are appointed is smaller than in previous years.

“Not to say it’s been cut down to a bare minimum, but not to where commissioners’ time was pulled at constantly,” he said.

The list of boards that commissioners are appointed to includes:

• Board of Health

• DSS Board

• Cardinal Innovations Healthcare solutions

• Personnel Board

• Parks and Recreation

• Emergency Services/Rescue Squad

• Tourism Development Authority

• Smart Start Rowan

• Juvenile Crime Prevention Council

• Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization

• Library Board

The commission chairman previously appointed a person to Downtown Salisbury Inc. but doesn’t anymore, Pierce said.

Winter switch

When the new commissioners — Greg Edds, Jim Greene and Judy Klusman — start their terms in December, the commission will vote on a chairman, who will make board assignments.

But first Greene and Edds will have to leave spots on other county boards. Edds is chairman of the Airport Board and Greene serves on the Rowan Works Economic Development Commission Board.

Edds said he would resign from the Airport Board because of a conflict of interest. As a county commissioner, Edds said he can’t serve on that board.

Pierce said serving as a commissioner on assigned boards as well as county advisory boards, such as the Airport Board, would just be too much to handle.

“They go through all the meat and potatoes, they glean the gravy and say this is where we would like to go,” Pierce said. “This saves the commissioners hours and hours. The whole idea is to streamline the process for the commissioners.”

Greene said he hadn’t thought extensively about leaving the economic development board when he begins his term as a commissioner, but he said it would be best if the Rowan Works board replaces him with another community member.

Once appointed to a particular board, or even as a liaison to an advisory board, commissioners can remain in the position for as long as they like. The county’s guidelines for appointments exempt any commissioner from term limits on a particular board.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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