Board of Commissioners approves two economic developments

ASHEBORO — The Randolph County Board of Commissioners met Monday, April 3, with various public hearings and property matters on the agenda.

The first action the board approved was to allow the exchange of property between the Randolph County School Board and the City of Archdale.

“At our last Board of Education meeting, our board declared a piece of property as surplus, but before we can make this exchange with the City of Archdale, we have to give you [the board of commissioners] the first right to this land at either fair market value or a value agreed upon between the board of commissioners and board of education,” said Randolph County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Gainey.

The board also approved the reclassification of two soil and water positions.

“We are requesting to reclassify the Soil and Water Administrator to a Soil and Water Environmental Education and Support Coordinator,” said Soil and Water Department Head Kaitlyn Johnson. “That position would start identifying more educational opportunities in the county and work to provide new educational programs, classroom activities, teacher workshops, and even adult education programs.

“The other position would be transitioning the Environmental Specialist to a Soil and Water Director role. That would still allow us to provide the technical assistance that that position has typically always done as well as just oversight of the office and supervisory functions that are needed to keep the office progressing.”

The board also was presented with the proposed renovation plan by Smith Sinnett Architecture for the Northwest Human Services Center.

In the 15,825 square foot building, the plan lists 14 offices, eight on the upper level and six on the lower, three areas of open office space, a break room, a mailroom, two conference rooms, one training room, and a large multipurpose area with a final cost estimate of $3,120,000.

“When I was reading this, I was glad I was sitting down because we paid $1.5 million for the building, and I wasn’t thinking that it was going to take twice that to renovate it,” said Vice Chair David Allen.

As such, the board requested for the firm to break the costs down between the two floors and see about having the bottom floor listed as a bid alternate expenditure cost and then for that plan to be brought back before them at a later date.

The board then approved the awarding of a contract to Garanco Construction for the Health Department Renovation Project. According to County Engineer Paxton Arthurs, the base bid for Garanco is $1,975,200 for construction costs, but for all the alternates, the cost would go up to $2,351,500.

The board was then presented with two economic development opportunities, one for Project Spring and the other for the Caraway Speedway.

“[Project Spring] is a Texas-based manufacturing facility that has been in business for several years,” said Economic Development Business Development Director Crystal Gettys. “Their product and their business in sales has been expedited to the point where they feel the need to have a second facility to cover east of the Mississippi. This has been a search for an existing building over the last six months or more across multiple states. They have narrowed that pool down to the top two, and Randolph County is in that top two.”

According to Gettys, the incentive package includes $33,340 over a five-year period, and the state of North Carolina will also provide incentives, including a OneNC grant and a building reuse grant.

The board approved the economic development incentive package following a public hearing.

“In expending its Coronavirus state fiscal recovery funds, the state of North Carolina created something called the Motorsports Relief Fund,” said Associate County Attorney Aimee Scotten. “The purpose of this fund is to enhance amenities and increase the opportunities for events at motorsports venues in recognition of the impact that those events have on the local tourism, travel, and hospitality industries. Randolph County received a grant from this fund specifically for the benefit of Caraway Speedway in the amount of $485,000. Caraway plans to use that money to replace some aging and kind of dilapidated seating and to repave certain sections of the track.”

The board also approved the use of the Motorsport Relief funds for the Caraway Speedway.

The board then held public meetings for the restructuring of five Fire Tax districts – Coleridge-Erect, Fairgrove, Julian, Northeast, and Staley – in line with the other dozen or so that have already been restructured. 

There were no comments made for or against the restructuring, and so following the hearings, the board voted to abolish and then reform the districts in order to remove the $0.15 tax cap.

The change is not a direct tax increase but simply gives the district the ability to ask for a higher tax rate from the county commissioners should the need ever arise. The new districts also cover the exact same area as before.

The board finally approved a budget amendment to cover a change in the schedule for USDA debt service payments in relation to the Farm, Food, and Family Education Center.

“Last year, we got approved for two $2 million loans through the USDA going through REMC,” said Assistant County Manager Will Massie. “Since going through the approval, REMC has been trying to work with USDA to get the funds down here. Currently, they’re not down yet. We don’t have the loan and haven’t closed on that, but they think they’re pretty close. One of the things that the USDA has requested is to have monthly payments rather than annual ones. If we do close this month, that would indicate that we would have a debt service payment in May and June.”

The Randolph County Board of Commissioners will next meet May 1.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal