Council to review utilities funds

Published 1:33 am Saturday, May 4, 2013

During its meeting Monday, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to discuss possibly assisting the Mid-East Commission in building new offices on property adjacent to the Beaufort County Health Department, old Beaufort County Home and the county’s emergency-services offices on Highland Drive.

The county owns the property.

The commission is looking for a new location because it is outgrowing its current site on U.S. Highway 264 on the east side of Washington. The commission’s offices have been located in Washington since the commission’s inception in the 1960s.

Mid-East Commission has conducted a preliminary site evaluation, phase 1 environmental site assessment and a hazardous-materials inspection of the property.

“The next phase in this project is to develop an agreement regarding the ownership of the property as well as arranging financing for the pending project,” wrote Timothy Baynes, executive director of the Mid-East Commission, in a letter to Jerry Langley, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “MEC is prepared to move forward with planning for the office location to be at this site if a mutual agreement can be reached.”

The commission is working with an architect/engineer to develop a set of preliminary floor plans to determine the potential buildable footprint of the commission’s office space and parking needs, according to the letter.

“Beaufort County could partner with MEC to retain ownership of the property and finance construction of the project,” reads a memorandum related to the project. “MEC would be willing to sign a long-term agreement to pay 100% of the required debt service obligation of the county. MEC would eventually request a greatly reduced lease payment for the property at the end of the county’s debt service obligation for the property. … MEC would be responsible for all operational costs of the building, including but not limited to insurance, utilities, and maintenance.”
Preliminary plans call for the building to have from 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of space.

“Estimated costs to provide the project is currently $3,500,000 which we think is a high estimated for the project,” reads the memorandum.

The mission of the Mid-East Commission is to enhance the ability of local governments to successfully improve the quality of life for area citizens. The commission, in an effort to facilitate positive local and regional change, provides leadership in technical assistance, planning, program management and development and public-private partnerships.

The commissioners meet at 5 p.m. Monday at the county’s administrative offices at 121 W. Third St., Washington.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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