Leadership saves the day

Published 6:48 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Several people worked hard to reduce the “claw back” payments Beaufort County and the City of Washington will pay because extending a sewer line down River Road to Carver Machine Works did not produce all of the 50 jobs it was required to do so under the grant funding agreement for the project.

At one point that “claw back” payment looked like it would be $620,000. After some negotiations, the county and city each will pay back about $111,000.

While the sewer line was being installed, the granting agencies were notified the job-creation goal of 50 jobs would not be met, with 14 new jobs identified. The granting agencies, county staff, city staff Mayor Archie Jennings and Beaufort County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jerry Langley met to address possible consequences the county and city faced because the jobs goal would not be met.

It was at this meeting where Jennings and Langley showed their leadership.

“At this meeting both Mayor Jennings and Chairman Langley advocated for the City and County and were able to secure a more favorable outcome. The Mayor negotiated a deal that increased the per job payment of the granting agency based on the established rate at the time. The Chairman argued that if job creation was important the granting agencies should allow us to seek jobs from other businesses that benefit from the sewer line and existing City sewer infrastructure improvements” wrote Jim Chrisman, assistant county manager and chief financial officer for the county, in a memorandum explaining how the “claw back” payments were whittled down to $111,000 for the county and city.

The memorandum continues: “As a result of the advocacy from the Chairman and the Mayor, the City and County staff identified other industries and new jobs created within these industries that also benefitted from this sewer project. The City and County staff jointly reviewed these businesses with leadership from Kevin Richards (with the Mid-East Commission) and jointly identified 27 jobs at industries benefitting from the sewer improvements.”

Those segments of the memorandum show that Langley and Jennings provided the leadership to help the county and city save about $400,000. They also show that city and county staffs performed well in finding those additional jobs created because the sewer line was installed. They also show that Kevin Richards and the Mid-East Commission carried out their missions: helping a county and city they work for make the best out of a bad situation.

That’s people doing their jobs and doing them well. That’s acting, rather than talking. That’s leadership.