DOBSON — Commissioners voted to provide $15,000 in funding to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, and the “interstates” sewer project met continued opposition from two commissioners at Monday evening’s Surry County Board of Commissioners meeting.
Museum executive director Matthew Edwards said two of three heating and air conditioning (HVAC) units at the museum have recently failed and that another may be on its last leg.
“These costs fall outside of the scope of our operational costs,” Edwards explained as he asked commissioners for half of the costs associated with replacing all three HVAC units. “We aren’t in a position to handle this cost,” he added.
Edwards said the units, which were installed in 2007, are no longer under warranty. Edwards also explained that he had made the same $15,000 request of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Though he has only had “casual conversation” with Mount Airy City Manager Barbara Jones, Edwards said he’s “not sure how favorable the city board will look upon (the funding request).”
Commissioner Larry Phillips asked that the county board make its pledge for funds contingent on the city approving the same request. However, his proposed amendment to Commissioner Jimmy Miller’s motion to allocate the funds from the general fund contingency received no support from fellow commissioners.
“This board needs to act independently of the Mount Airy Board,” remarked Commissioner Eddie Harris.
Miller’s motion passed by a vote of 4-1, with board Chairman R.F. “Buck” Golding voting against the measure.
The “interstates” sewer project met continued resistance Monday night, and due to the board’s rules of procedure an ordinance regarding the project failed.
Due to a recent surgery Phillips was attending the meeting via means of a telephone conference. County Attorney Ed Woltz said that though Phillips was permitted to vote he was not permitted to “break a tie” and did not count toward a quorum.
When an ordinance creating a project fund for the sewer project, which will extend sanitary sewer services along N.C. 89 to the I-77 and I-74 interchanges, came up for a vote Harris and Golding voted in opposition. While Miller, Phillips and Commissioner Paul Johnson voted in favor of the measure, Phillips’ vote could not count to break a 2-2 tie of the commissioners physically at the meeting.
Golding has cited financial concerns regarding the project as his reasoning for voting in opposition since the project’s inception. Like Golding, Harris has consistently voted against moving the project forward.
Though the ordinance was not passed, a budget amendment running parallel to the ordinance was passed by way of a 4-1 vote prior to the ordinance failing to gain a majority of commissioners in attendance, with Golding voting in opposition.
Harris later explained that the budget amendment included appropriations to two other funds, both of which he supported.
County Manager Chris Knopf said after Monday’s meeting that he will simply re-submit the ordinance, which places about $4.2 million from the county’s general fund in the project fund, when all commissioners are present.
Phillips also stated he would re-introduce the ordinance when he is able to physically attend the meeting.
Commissioners also chose not to act on damage claims from two property owners affected by sewer project construction. The two requests for replacement of ornamental shrubbery were each for $1,200.
After consulting with Woltz commissioners cited the fact that the shrubs were located on an easement and a highway right of way, respectively, as their reasoning for opting not to compensate the property owners.
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.