Archived Story

City, county meeting postponed

Published 5:15pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A meeting tentatively scheduled for July 29 so Beaufort County and Washington leaders could discuss topics such as where to locate a new jail and recreation funding has been postponed.

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and the City Council had been penciled in to meet at 5 p.m. at the Beaufort County Administrative Building, 121 W. Third St., Washington.

“By mutual agreement the joint meeting has been postponed until a later date to be determined. The main reason for the meeting was to discuss locating the new County jail in the joint county/city industrial park. The County Manager has stated that the County is evaluating other locations for the jail, so it would be premature for the Boards to meet on this topic until the County has completed its evaluations,” City Manager Brian Alligood wrote in an email. “The City supports the County’s efforts to evaluate potential sites and to determine where it feels is the best and most cost efficient/effective location for the new jail.”

Alligood and County Manager Randell Woodruff, after consulting with each other, decided it was best to postpone the meeting.

“I met last week with Brian Alligood and we both decided to delay the joint meeting until sometime this Fall.  This will allow Brian additional time to get familiar as well as providing adequate time for City and County staffs to meet and get issues ready for the two governing Boards,” Woodruff wrote in an email.

Alligood began working as city manager July 1.

The city’s position is it does not dispute the need for a new jail, but the city does not believe it should be located at the Beaufort County Industrial Park, which is jointly owned by Beaufort County and the city. Earlier this year, the mayor and council said they were somewhat miffed the city was not consulted on where to locate the new jail, if one is built. The industrial park is in the city limits. City zoning regulations could prevent the new jail from being located there.

The two governing bodies also could address the issue of funding for parks and recreation. The city wants the county to provide it with such funding, as the county does to other municipalities in the county.

The city believes that because many county residents — those who live outside the city — participate in the city’s recreation programs, use city sports facilities and use city parks, the county should help cover some of the expenses associated with providing those programs and facilities.

The city has renewed its request that the county provide such funding. The council, during a meeting earlier this year, unanimously voted to have city staff forward that request to the county.

Councilman Doug Mercer broached the issue during that meeting.

“May I bring to the council’s attention the county commissioners were presented their budget on Monday afternoon. As you know, about two years ago we were receiving about ($17,000) from the county for our recreational programs. Last year, they took that out completely. This year, we had requested $15,732 from the county for our programs. They have recommended zero,” Mercer said then. “I think it is incumbent upon us, as a council, to go to the county commissioners and express our concern with the fact that they are giving every other recreational program in the county funds, and we’ve got the largest recreational program in the county and they’re providing nothing. Our citizens pay county taxes just like every other citizen, and yet here’s an area the county could assist us with and they’ve ignored us.”

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