Economic development, same-sex marriage on the agenda for Tuesday’s Commission meeting

Published 9:59 am Saturday, January 16, 2016

Carter County Commission Logoi
When members of the Carter County Commission meet Tuesday they have several important items on the agenda for what promises to be a marathon session of the county’s governing body.
Commission meetings are typically held on the third Monday of each month but this month’s meeting was postponed until Tuesday, Jan. 19, due to Monday being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is a federal holiday. All of the county offices will be closed on Monday.
Economic development will be one of the big topics of the day as the commission will hear a report regarding Carter County Tomorrow regarding compliance issues with the lease agreement between the agency and the county.
Commissioners will also debate a proposed interlocal government agreement “to establish a joint economic and community development board.”
Carter County previously partnered with the cities of Elizabethton and Watauga in CCT as a joint economic development venture.
The agency’s effectiveness has been questioned by Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey as well as some members of the Commission. During the Commission’s November meeting, Humphrey said the Commission had voted to “do away with” CCT when it set the 2015-16 fiscal year budget.
During the budget process, some members of the Commission sought to de-fund the agency, which receives $40,000 per year from the county. When the county’s budget came to the floor for approval during a special called August meting, Commissioner Robert Gobble made a motion to do away with CCT and set aside the $40,000 for CCT until another economic development agency could be decided on.
When clarifying the motion, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, who serves as chairman of the Commission, asked Gobble if he meant to place the $40,000 for CCT, as well as the $90,000 for tourism through the Chamber of Commerce, in reserve. After a brief moment, Gobble replied that he did mean both funds. Commissioner Ronnie Trivett provided a second to the motion, which ultimately passed by a margin of 14-8.
That move, Humphrey said during the November meeting, ended the county’s involvement in CCT and created the need for the county to develop a new economic development agency. Under state law, each county and its municipalities are required to establish a joint economic and community development board through an interlocal agreement.
County Attorney Josh Hardin presented a resolution at the request of Humphrey at the Commission’s November meeting that would have created a new joint economic and community development board that would have also overseen the county’s tourism promotion. The resolution, had it passed, would have also required the county to draft an interlocal agreement to work with Elizabethton and Watauga for the board.
The resolution never came to a vote though due to Commissioner Ray Lyons making a motion at the beginning of the meeting remove the resolution from the agenda for that meeting and postpone it until the group’s January meeting. The resolution was then postponed by Humphrey.
Despite the motion to defer the matter until the January meeting, when the Commission meets on Tuesday, the resolution to create a new joint economic and community development board will not appear on the agenda. However, the group will debate and vote on an interlocal agreement though no resolution was passed to create the new board. Instead, the interlocal agreement will be used to create the new board, if it is passed.
The interlocal agreement seeks to create “The Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board” and says the new board will include the Carter County Mayor as well as one representative from the cities of Elizabethton, Watauga and Johnson City. Under the terms of the agreement, the board will also include a “qualifying” land owner to be nominated by the County Mayor and confirmed by the Commission.
In addition to the economic development issues, the Commission will also debate a number of resolutions on other topics. Those resolutions on the agenda for Tuesday are:
• A resolution to request the state through legislative and legal action to reaffirm the state’s authority to “regulate domestic relations including, but not limited to, the traditional concept of marriage as between one man and one woman.”
Some surrounding counties have passed similar resolutions.
• A resolution to set the time for all meetings of the Carter County Commission at 6 p.m. Currently, the meetings rotate been evening meetings at 6 p.m. and morning meetings, which are held at 9 a.m. Resolutions seeking to set all the meeting times at 6 p.m. were presented to the full Commission on two separate occasions last year and both times failed to garner enough votes to pass.
•A resolution to establish a “Records Management and County Archives Department” and a companion resolution to establish a “county archives and record management” fee schedule. If both resolutions are passed, it would create a new department tasked with preserving and maintaining the county’s historic documents and records. The fee structure would be used as a means of bringing in revenue to support the operations of the new department.
• A resolution to require final approval by the Commission of all Payment In Lieu Of Tax (PILOT) agreements, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Agreements or TIF bonds entered into or issued by the industrial development board of Carter County.
• Two resolutions to amend the county’s zoning regulations — one regarding regulations for both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges and another regarding regulations dealing with portable storage containers.
The Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, in the main courtroom located on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse.

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