Stanly commissioners discuss plans for potential recreation grant program

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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Stanly County Commissioners discussed a proposal at Monday’s county budget workshop regarding a recreation grant plan.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto made a presentation to the board and county staff regarding a proposed grant program for the county’s municipalities.

The program would be a 50/50 match for towns for amounts up to $10,000 to go specifically towards new facilities, land acquisition, sports and recreation equipment and repairs on existing facilities.

Asciutto said he had been talking about the concept for the program for years but only completed it in the last three weeks. His final aspects of the plan came after a meeting of the local Council of Governments (COG), he said.

Asciutto has spoken at several town meetings regarding his plans for the program.

Commissioner Tommy Jordan said he was not against the idea but was “against being shoehorned into it.

“You went to everybody in the entire county except your board,” Jordan said.

Asciutto’s plan was to do the program for one year on a trail basis. However, Chairman Bill Lawhon said other programs still on the county’s budget started on a trial basis.

“If it’s a one-year trial, it’s a permanent trial, just like the Stanly senior center,” Lawhon said.

Lawhon said the issue for him was about taxes.

“Do we have $100,000 to put in any program?” he said. “Every dollar we spend, we need to ask ourselves (if we) are doing the right thing for the taxpayer.”

Lawhon said his opposition was not to the program’s intentions, but to the use of tax dollars for it.

Questions arose from the discussion regarding the process of how towns would apply, who would process the requests and how would use of the funds by the town be confirmed.

Lawhon later called for a straw vote on who supported the program, minus Commissioner Scott Efird, who did not vote because of a conflict of interest. Efird works for the City of Locust as its planning director.

The motion for the vote was “who would be for putting aside $100,000 based on the criteria that Peter has shown us (for a) one time trial?”

In the first vote, Jordan, Asciutto, Lane Furr and Zach Almond voted for the program, with Lawhon and Mike Barbee against.

“I’m with them, I think, one time. I’m not for it multiple times,” Almond said about the vote.

A second vote, though, saw Almond change his vote to no, saying “what I’m worried about is the structure of (the program).”

Asciutto later said in talking to commissioners, he is coming with a new plan which he will present at the next budget workshop Monday. The plan will not include the program as a line item in the budget.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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