The deal to bring more Harnett County water to Moore County is still on, even though Moore County was not selected earlier this year to receive a zero-interest state loan to fund the project.
During their Monday, May 5 regular meeting, members of the Moore County Board Commissioners were anxious to correct what they felt was incorrect information being circulated during the current election campaign about the County's agreement to purchase additional water from Harnett County.
Moore County, which already purchases water from Harnett County has agreed to purchase a stake in Harnett County's expansion of its water treatment facility. The deal guarantees Moore County access to more water, at a lower price.
The County was seeking an $11 million zero-interest loan from the state in a competitive process that included scores of other water and wastewater projects across the state. Moore County's project did not prevail in the process, but the agreement with Harnett County is signed and will move forward, Commissioner Nick Picerno said.
"We got turned down for our loan request," Picerno said. "We still have a contract; we just need to find a different way to finance it."
"The loan we were turned down for had nothing to do with the financial stability of the county," Commissioner Randy Saunders added, noting that Moore County has a AA rating.
In addition, the financial projections the county used to evaluate the feasibility of the project were based on a four percent interest rate — not the zero percent loan, Chairman Larry Caddell said.
"Even if we had to go on the street and borrow this money, we could get that," he added.
"The board has signed a contract with Harnett County, and there is no turning back," Caddell said. "The only question is how we are going to pay for it. We have an ethical obligation to get that done as cheaply as possible."
Reviving 'The Summit'
During the "Commissioners' Comments" portion of the meeting, Commissioner Picerno suggested reviving the Moore County Summit, a group started by the Chamber of Commerce more than a decade ago.
The Summit brought together representatives of the county, its municipalities, and business and community leaders to discuss various issues, including the water supply and the potential for cooperative purchasing.
Picerno suggested two areas that could benefit from attention by such a countywide conversation:
• "Ongoing school needs, and how you pay for them."
• The possibility of combining Partners in Progress (the county's economic development arm), the Chamber, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Commissioner Saunders noted that former Chamber Director Patrick Coughlin recently moved to Cabarrus County to head up just such a combined organization.
"It might be good to get some community-wide input," Picerno said. "The Summit could reconstitute and have community leaders at all the same table."
Malt Beverage Referendum for Greenwood Township
The commissioners unanimously voted to add a question to the November General Election ballot that would allow the sale of malt beverages in Greenwood Township.
Greenwood Township lies east of Carthage, runs along the border with Lee County, and includes the Town of Cameron. The ballot measure, however, will not affect the town, where malt beverage sales are already permitted.
Yonas Biru Badi, the owner of Mercy Grocery, a convenience store on NC Highway 15/501, told the commissioners that his customers had asked that he sell beer, because they currently must travel to Lee County to purchase malt beverages.
Moore County Elections Director Glenda Clendenin told the board that, under state law, there are two procedures that can bring about a vote on alcohol sales in a "dry" county: a petition bearing the signatures of thirty-five percent of the area's population or a request by the governing body.
In recent history, votes were held in Bensalem Township based on a petition and in Sheffield Township at the request of the board of commissioners, Clendenin said. The measure failed in Sheffield and passed in Bensalem.
"I think that is who ought to decide," Chairman Larry Caddell said, "the people who live there."
In other business during their Monday, May 5 meeting, the Moore County Board of Commissioners:
• Proclaimed May 9 through June 16 as Vulnerable Adults and Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
• Received a quarterly financial report from Sandhills Center for Mental Health.
• Called a public hearing for Tuesday, May 20 on revisions to the county sign ordinance.
• Authorized an upset bid process for a county-owned lot in Southern Pines that has been declared surplus property. The current $1,663.48 bid, by Jackson K. Sadler, would cover county back taxes and other costs. Competing bidders will have ten days after publication of Sadler's offer to submit a higher bid the the County Clerk.
• Approved the extension of a lease on the offices currently used by the Probation Department at 2 Courthouse Square in Carthage. Probation will be moving to the lower level of the Moore County Courthouse once renovations to that building are completed.
• Approved the promissory note for a $1.1 million low-interest state loan for the Lift Station 3-4 project.
• Accepted $170,000 in state funding for the 2014 cycle of a project to rehabilitate the homes of elderly and disabled low income residents.
• Amended the Moore County Planning Board's bylaws to set the panel's meeting date on the first Thursday of every month and to reflect the recent decision that all conditional use permits will receive final approval from the board of commissioners rather than the planning board.
• Appointed Cynthia Clendenin to the Library Board of Trustees, Nina Walker to the Workforce Development Board, and Richard Geerdes to the Town of Pinebluff's Board of Adjustment.