County Commissioners’ 2016-2017 Report Card
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. — The Rutherford County Commissioners met Friday afternoon to review their progress on last year’s goals before setting new ones for the upcoming fiscal year. County manager Steve Garrison, finance director Paula Roach and assistant to the board Hazel Haynes were in attendance as well. The setting was relaxed, cordial, and productive.
The commissioners reviewed their overarching focus points from last year: job creation, transparency, support of education, infrastructure enhancements, improved quality of life, public safety and improved services. In reviewing their accomplishments and challenges of the last year, the commissioners used the same overarching focus points as a template to work from in setting new goals.
The County’s Priority Goal 1 of job creation found success in recruiting Everest Textiles and U.S. Precision for the evolving creation of 700 jobs. Economic Development Commission(EDC) Interim director Tom Johnson has picked up where he left off in recruiting more companies to consider this area. Also, the stable and respected actions of this current board of commissioners has been an enormous boon in the marketing efforts. The EDC is also in the formative stages of a public/private partnership.
Much discussion revolved the goal of funding capital facilities needs. While the commissioners were disappointed in the failure of the 1/4 cent sales tax to fund schools, they believe that part of that issue was the wording on the ballot. N.C. law prohibited stating the purpose of the tax. Commissioners propose a change to that ordinance be requested to Rep. David Rogers before placing it on the ballot again. The public has sent feedback to the commissioners that they really didn’t know what the tax was for until after the election.
The commissioners are also looking at alternative ways to fund capital needs. County planning department will continue to meet with the schools and ICC to develop a capital facility plan. One option may be to use an Occupancy Tax increase of 1 % to fund the schools.
The Commissioners will continue to advocate the designation of Hwy 74 to an interstate. They will also promote the 221 “bypass” project has they managed to fund another section for completion, and the Hwy 221A straightening project was given a higher priority on the Dept. of Transportation project list.
The county continues to work on bringing high speed internet throughout the county. Also a grant was obtained for Cliffside Sanitary District to study how to address and fix their needs. The county extended leveraging funds for a Golden Leaf grant to the Town of Spindale to determine and create sewage lines to the 221 and highway 74 intersection to promote development there.
Rutherford County received a peer group task force review for its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and investigated if their suggestions should be implemented. The study suggested having EMS as its own department and not under Transportation, the move of 911 Communications Dept. from the Sheriff’s department, and upgraded communications equipment to enhance radio communications in our challenging county terrain.
Over all the county commissioners receive an A report card. After fixing the “sins of past commissioners” that brought RC to near bankruptcy and ignoring the needs of school facilities, the county is in much more stable financial position. The commissioners have been responsive to questions and public records requests. While their actions have been scrutinized, all contracts, goals, and directions have been created with integrity and at the best interests of the RC residents. This board and manager have done much to restore the public trust of our local government.
The commissioners continue to ask for applications for board memberships from the public. They will be considered by qualifications and not by party affiliation. Vacancies can be found on the county website.