THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY
Vance County Manager Jordan McMillen provided WIZS with the following summary of the Vance County Board of Commissioners’ meeting held Monday, February 3, 2020:
McGregor Hall Funding Request: The committee discussed a funding request McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center recently made to both the City and County. The county manager provided a review of a recent economic impact study indicating McGregor Hall has an estimated annual economic impact of 2.34 million in additional restaurant, hotel and other spending within the City and County.
Mark Hopper, from McGregor Hall, was present and provided an overview of the performing arts center operations as well as their outstanding debt which is a $124,000 annual debt payment ($2.9 million over 40 years). This is preventing them from growing and providing a higher level of programming.
He noted that a higher level of programming has a cost between $25,000 and $30,000 per show and is unsustainable with McGregor’s desire to keep ticket prices below $35 for the local citizens. He also noted that ticket sales alone are not the primary revenue generator of any theatre and that the most successful performing arts center in the United States (Durham Performing Arts Center – DPAC) also receives local government funding.
In addition to this, he mentioned a recent review of similar facilities in North Carolina which indicated that McGregor Hall was the only one without local government support. The committee members discussed whether other grants, organizations, or endowments could be helpful in supporting McGregor Hall in the future.
The city and county members discussed the need to review McGregor Hall’s audit, and was agreeable to considering a specific request from McGregor during budget deliberations, but made no commitments (City or County) on any funding for McGregor Hall at this time.
Downtown Wi-Fi: The City members seemed receptive to the idea of contributing to this effort. This was the shortest item discussed during the committee meeting and we anticipate the city folks will get back to us on what, if anything, they can contribute. Our board believes free downtown Wi-Fi is needed, and they would like both city and county working together on this.
Audit: The audit went well – no material weakness findings and the financials are in order. We did dip into our general fund balance to the tune of $2.2 million last year, but $1.7 of that was the purchase of land for economic development which was anticipated.
Even with this, our unassigned fund balance was just over 28% at the end of June 2019 and our target is to stay above 25%. We need to be careful from a budgeting standpoint going forward because revenue growth has been very minimal compared to the funding requests and needs that we see each year.
Although we go into each budget looking to keep the tax rate the same, there were some items added last year that could have necessitated a tax increase. That will make this upcoming year’s budget more challenging without a tax increase – but we will get into those numbers soon. We will discuss the upcoming budget in more depth at our Planning Retreat on Monday.
Litter Cleanup: We heard a great presentation on what NCDOT is doing to combat litter. Over time, fewer prisons are participating in litter cleanup, but NCDOT is still spending $20.9 million a year to combat the problem. The bulk of this is paid to contract companies who cleanup along our roadways.
It was interesting to see that in Vance County alone, 64.97 tons of roadside litter was cleaned up by NCDOT. Also, we have had a lot of success recently reporting roadside litter problems to NCDOT through their online portal www.ncdot.gov/contact. In some instances we reported it and they cleaned the road up the very next day.
To see more information on the Vance County Board of Commissioners, including meeting agendas, proposed budgets and reports, visit www.vancecounty.org/departments/board-of-commissioners/.