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Livestock arena on hold after board decision

Construction on the proposed livestock arena at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center has been delayed at least until 2019.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners, a motion, which passed unanimously, tabled further progress on the arena until January. At that time, the board, which will have a different lineup after midterm elections, could make further progress on the issue.

In the previous meeting in July, the board asked the county staff to work with those involved with the project for a lower-cost arena. The staff consulted with the Livestock Arena Steering Committee, Pinnacle Architecture and the lowest responsive bidder (Simoncon general contractors).

The new value engineering proposal reduced the overall cost of the arena from $3.492 million to $2.655 million. Changes in the project excluded the roof and called for concrete curb and gutters in the parking lot.

County Manager Andy Lucas said the roof was an important part of the arena in terms of the number of days to have events. Rain would get people wet because the arena was not completely closed in, but a roof would keep sun off people on hot days.

The new plans also eliminated the metal bleachers in favor of concrete seating, which saved on materials and construction.

Lucas said the new plan “compromises the quality of the project…it’s not really the scope of the project you really want.”

Lucas credited the steering committee for its fundraising efforts. In the agenda packet, a report stated $913,069 of non-county revenue had been raised for the arena. Along with a budgeted $250,000 from the county, a total of  just over $1.1 million has been raised.

“Obviously, there is interest in the community for this project,” Lucas said.

However, with costs for the architects and construction, minus donated materials, the project is still $1,4 million over expected cost.

Lucas noted several other projects the board has stated as priority items from the five-year plan. Those included the EMS base and the fifth radio tower along with the Riverstone economic development park. Lucas also mentioned the school system having “plenty of needs.”

The county manager added conversations with the advisory group yielded a conclusion.

“We don’t want to see the county spend $1.5 million if we are not getting the true project. They would rather us continue to try and fundraise and raise awareness in the community if the project will be more…we need to get out and pound the pavement,” Lucas said.

He added the gap would be more with adding the roof back into the plans. The revised bid is only good for 60 days.

Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked if some members of the steering committee in attendance at the meeting would share their thoughts. Three members stepped up to the podium: Reggie Medlin, Curtis Furr and Wayne Sasser.

Medlin thanked the board for its support of the project.

“We in no way feel this is the end of this,” he said, adding that he and others on the committee were not in favor of proceeding on the arena without the roof on it.

“If we do that, what we’ll end up with a year from now is a hole in the ground with weeds growing in it and people looking at us saying ‘Is that what I gave you money for?’ ” Medlin said.

Medlin noted it was one year ago to the day from when the group made a presentation to the board on the project.

“If the project could have gone to bid within 30 days of that meeting a year ago, we would have saved $1 million. That’s water over the dam,” Medlin said.

Sasser added the group “would not ask taxpayers of Stanly County to throw in $1.5, $2 million for the project…it’s just a bump in the road.”

Vice Chairman Gene McIntyre echoed his agreement saying “as important as this can be to our community, we don’t want to sell it short.”

McIntyre also asked about obtaining grants from the tourism industry to which Medlin said they had. Medlin added the group had looked at two grants but needed a formal bid before applying.

“Maybe in six months we’ll be back here with a smile,” Medlin said about the future of the project.

Commissoner Matthew Swain made the motion to table the topic to the January meeting, seconded by Commissioner Scott Efird.

Whitley retires

The board presented an award to Nancy Whitley on her retirement from the central permitting office. Whitley started in the inspections department in June 1994. The department merged with the zoning office and environmental health in 2006 when moving to Stanly Commons.

Chairman Joseph Burleson called Whitley a “vital part” of the combining of those offices, saying she will be missed.

Road Name changes

On Monday, the board renamed a private drive off Renee Ford Road between David Lane and River Road to Patriots Point Drive.

A public hearing on the renaming had one public comment from Lisa Gross, whose address is the only that will change. The new name was to honor her father, an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War.

The motion was made by Efird, seconded by Swain, and passed unanimously.

Annual Tax Report

The board approved a report from tax administrator Clinton Swaringen on the annual settlement for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Stanly’s collection rate for real and personal property taxes was 97.28 percent. The county collected $27,907,842.76 of the total levy of $28,687,749.34, a difference of $779,906.58. The 2017-18 rate is slightly higher then the previous year’s mark of 97.24 percent.

With 2017 as a revaluation year, the county collected around $1.5 million more in taxes.

In terms of motor vehicle taxes, the Department of Motor Vehicles collected 99.57 percent of taxes due as part of the tax and tag program.

The county also has $67,157.41 in deliquent collections which are not collected from the past 10 years. That number is slightly lower from last year’s total of $68,515. Swaringen said last year was the first time the number was below the $70,000 mark. He added the number usually hovers between $80,000 and $85,000.

One new tax counties in North Carolina collected is gap billings. Gap taxes are collected when periods of one month or more go between the expiration and renewal of a vehicle’s registration.

Swain made the motion to approve the report and charge the tax collector with collecting the 2018-19 taxes. The motion passed unanimously.

Final Phase of Waterline Hook-Up

The board awarded a plumbing service contract for the hookup of eight properties to the county’s waters system. The contract was awarded to the only company to bid, United Plumbing and Associates of Concord.

The contract came in the third and final phase of this year’s funding for the Waterline Hook-Up Program.

Updates on Child Protection

The board heard two reports from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The first was on the activities of the community child protection team from Social Services Director Dolly Clayton. The other was the child fatality prevention team’s annual report, given by Patricia Hancock, director of nursing.

The Board also:

  • designated Burleson to serve as a voting delegate for the 2018 North Carolina Association of County Commissioners annual conference on Aug. 25. Commissioner Ashley Morgan was named as an alternate.
  • conducted the first of two public hearings on a Community Development Block Grant application with the Centralina Council of Governments. No one spoke at the hearing.
  • appointed Dr. Johnnie Woodard as a delegate to the Region F Aging Advisory Committee.
  • approved the consent agenda which included several budget amendments as well as approving vehicle tax refunds.