Mount Airy officials are expected to get the ball rolling Thursday afternoon for an expansion of a local metal-working company that will bring 20 new jobs.
A vote to set a public hearing regarding a city government incentive package for the project is among the items for a meeting of the board of commissioners to begin at 2 p.m. in the Municipal Building.
Also on tap is a discussion on changing the municipal election process, the consideration of a resolution requesting a reduction in the state gasoline tax and action involving a voluntary annexation request, among other business.
An existing manufacturer known only by the code name “Project Shield” is considering the expansion.
The incentive package offered by the city totals $33,090, which includes a $5,000 matching grant from the North Carolina Rural Center.
In addition to creating 20 jobs over a two-year period, the unnamed company plans to make a personal property investment of $1.5 million for new equipment and improvements to a building.
“We’re hoping this expansion will lead to larger, other exciting things with this company,” Surry Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker said Tuesday. “We’re really looking forward to working with them.”
The 20 new jobs involved are high-skilled positions, Tucker added, which will pay above-average wages. If the plans go through, a “boot camp” or compressed training program is envisioned to allow those hired to be on the job as quickly as possible, he said.
Typically, local government incentives involve providing a rebate of property taxes to be paid in the coming years as a result of a new industry opening or the expansion of an existing company.
A resolution to be considered at Thursday’s meeting states that the amount of the incentives is based not only on the tax revenues the municipality anticipates receiving from the project. They also are tied to an expectation that the company’s expansion will diversify and stimulate the local economy and promote business, along with providing employment opportunities.
Thursday’s action will involve scheduling a public hearing on the incentives proposal for March 21 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Also Thursday afternoon, the commissioners are slated to discuss a proposed change in city election procedure in the wake of a Feb. 21 public hearing on the issue.
The proposal involves switching to a non-partisan plurality method that would end the present system that involves primaries being held when three or more candidates file for an office.
Under the change being considered, all candidates would face off in the general election, regardless of number, and the winner would get the seat despite the percentage margin of victory.
At the Feb. 21 hearing, citizens urged the adding of a runoff clause to ensure that the person elected receives a majority of support.
With cost being one factor behind the proposed change, there also was sentiment expressed that saving money should not stand in the way of ensuring a fair election process.
Gasoline Tax Request
Another matter on the agenda is a response to recent high gas taxes in North Carolina.
The city commissioners will consider sending a resolution encouraging Gov. Pat McCrory to lower the state’s fuel tax. The aim is to make it “more competitive with surrounding states,” the resolution states.
North Carolina drivers now pay 37.5 cents per gallon in state excise taxes, compared to 17.5 cents in Virginia and 16 cents in South Carolina.
The commissioners are expected to direct the city clerk to investigate a petition for annexation concerning a small — .56 acres — site in the 100 block of Avondale Road at Greenhill Road. It is near U.S. 52 in the northern part of the city.
In addition to annexation, property owner Jack Snow is requesting that the zoning of the vacant site be changed from its present residential classification to B-4 (Highway Business).
The annexation and rezoning are sought in order to sell the site as a commercial property due to its limitations for use as a residential location, city documents state.
Also on Thursday’s agenda are:
• A public forum during which citizens may speak on any city government topic;
• The consideration of a resolution regarding an amendment to Mount Airy’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Overlay District;
• Recognition of a longtime local business, Brannock & Hiatt Furniture Co.;
• A tourism update from Jessica Icenhour Roberts, a representative of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and tourism director for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce;
• An reappointment to the Mount Airy ABC Board.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.