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Three West End Plaza items scheduled for commissioners’ meeting

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday is scheduled to consider a dozen consent agenda items and three related to West End Plaza, formerly the Salisbury Mall.

The West End Plaza items include discussion on returning to the Local Government Commission for loan approval to replenish money spent in late 2013 for the former mall’s purchase and discussion on whether to solicit bids for roof replacements. The third item, currently on the consent agenda, would allow Duke Energy to use West End Plaza’s parking lot for power restoration resulting from storm damage.

The loan would be used to replenish the county’s fund balance, which partially functions as a savings account. Rowan County several times previously submitted a loan to the Local Government Commission — a financial regulatory agency for municipalities and counties — for approval. After it wasn’t approved, the county withdrew its application.

During last week’s retreat, finance director Leslie Heidrick said failing to replenish the fund balance from the purchase could affect the county’s bond rating. The county is currently rated as Aa2 by Moody’s, AA- by Standard and Poors and AA by Fitch. All are near the top of the agencies’ rating scales.

The unassigned fund balance reached a peak in 2009, according to a presentation by Heidrick during the retreat. The unassigned fund balance dipped to its lowest point in 2010. At the time, commissioners decided to spend the county’s fund balance instead of raising taxes during an economic recession. The most recent numbers in the presentation — for the year 2014 — show the fund balance at its lowest amount since 2005.

The only firm option listed on Monday’s agenda is to solicit bids for financing rates. The other option listed simply says “any other motion desired by the board.”

Bidding out the contract for the West End Plaza’s roof is more defined in terms of options.

County Manager Aaron Church’s listed options on the agenda are: to authorize the solicitation of bids for a $600,000 design to repair a portion of the roof, to only solicit construction bids for the portion of roof over the proposed space for the Board of Elections of Veterans Services — both identified as departments that need immediate attention — cancel previously approved contracts and stop all activity that involves new construction or new tenants until a space needs study is complete.

The county wouldn’t technically be allowed to start any work until a governmental services permit is approved by the Salisbury City Council, according to Church’s agenda item. The City Council will consider the permit in early march, according to interim City Manager John Sofley.

The only consent agenda item related to the former mall would grant Duke Energy the right to use a portion of the West End Plaza parking lot “in support of electric power restoration” from storm damage to the electric transmission and distribution system.

The consent agenda is routinely used for items that commissioners unanimously agree on approving.

The contract attached to Monday’s agenda states that Rowan County would allow Duke Energy to use the parking lot for free. As reasoning, the proposed contract states “support to the community for electric transmission/distribution restoration efforts.”

In the contract, Duke states it would repair any damage resulting from the company’s use of the parking lot.

Other items up for consideration during Monday’s meeting include:

• Approving the lease of property from the Rowan Fairgrounds to Rowan County government.

The property is located between to the developed portion of the fairgrounds and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. The land is currently composed of a wooded area. The proposed lease would run for 15 years at $1 per acre. The fair would be responsible for grading the area for parking, but the agenda doesn’t list a specific, intended purpose.

• Considering the appointment of an Animal Control Task Force.

The agenda item specifically lists the task force’s purpose as creating a volunteer and animal processing policy. The task force wouldn’t cease to exist after it presents its recommended policy to the Rowan County Commissioners.

The proposed makeup of the board would include: two veterinarians, four Rowan residents, one elected municipal official, the animal control director, an elected county official and the county manager.

• Selling 36 surplus vehicles.

The surplus is composed of vehicles from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and Rowan Transit System, according to Monday’s agenda.

The vehicles would be sold on GovDeals.com, according to the agenda.

• A vehicle swap between the sheriff’s office and Rowan County Rescue Squad.

In a letter to commissioners and church, Rescue Squad Chief Eddie Cress asks commissioners to approve giving his agency a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe which was already declared surplus. Cress wrote the Rescue Squad has a 1999 Ford Excursion with 172,000 miles and is worn out for use as an emergency vehicle. The Tahoe the Rescue Squad would receive has approximately 130,000 miles, according to Cress’ letter.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

 

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