Business report bright in Granville

Feb. 18, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

The Granville County commissioners got some good news at their annual retreat, held last Friday evening and Saturday morning. Interim Economic Development Director Bill Edwards gave an upbeat report on recent and potential economic activities in the county.

“I think we’re on the cusp of really great things,” he said.

The county includes some pristine real estate, he said, takes care of its children, has miles of interstate highway and is bounded by water, with Falls Lake to the south and Kerr Lake to the north. He said it all makes the county attractive to business and industry.

Edwards reported that United Tobacco Company is building a large tobacco receiving station on U.S. 15. The facility represents a $3.3 million capital investment and will employ four full-time and 12 to 15 part-time employees.

New investment by existing companies is also contributing to the county’s wellbeing. Shalag has completed a $15 million investment; CertainTeed, $18 million; and Revlon, $47 million, Edwards reported. These investments partially offset several recent closures of businesses. He named several additional potential projects he is pursing.

A second bit of good news was an analysis by Davenport & Company LLC, which confirms the financial benefits of the action the commissioners took last year to refinance the 2013 general obligation bonds to obtain a more favorable interest rate. Bob High and Ted Cole of Davenport & Company reported their analysis showed an estimated saving of more than $1.6 million over the 10-year period during which the $18,755,875 bonds will be redeemed.

They also said the county received a credit rating of Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and a rating of AA- by Standard & Poor’s, both considered “good” ratings.

On Friday, the commissioners heard from the county’s legislative delegation, mayors of the five municipalities and representatives of Granville County Schools.

The board adopted a resolution supporting the legislative goals of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

On Saturday, reports were received from county departments.

Social Services Director Lou Bechtel reported that the steady growth over the past five years in food and nutrition services (83.4 percent growth), family and children Medicaid (32.1 percent) and adult Medicaid (10.1 percent) is putting a strain on the department’s resources and staff.

“There is no recognition by the state of the cost to counties to manage the influx of new clients,” Bechtel said.

Bechtel also said the state has passed on to counties several program changes that affect requirements to provide transportation to Medicaid recipients, an example of an unfunded mandate.

He expressed frustration at the state’s data system.

“This week we lost three days because the system wouldn’t work,” he said.

Sheriff Brindell Wilkins reported that almost all dimensions of his office’s activities increased between 2009 and 2012, including incident reports, arrests, traffic stops and dispatched calls. He pointed out that the annual number of inmates confined in the county jail increased from 2,189 to 2,412.

County Manager Brian Alligood said, “We’ve got to look at our jail to avoid overcrowding.”

Development Services Director Scott Phillips updated the commissioners on completed projects, current construction projects and additional projects needing consideration.

Completed projects included exterior improvements to the Animal Control office, a new equipment storage building for Granville Athletic Park, adapting the facility in Hilltop Village for the temporary Senior Center office, the new Berea Branch Library, expansion of the evidence room in the sheriff’s office and expansion of the county landfill.

Current projects he listed included work on the county’s Orange Street building, Lanier Street building, the U.S. 15 waterline, district courtroom, CMAC Greenway Trail for Butner, Granville Athletic Park, the courthouse elevator and the Triangle North Granville Park entrance.

Planning Director Barry Baker reported that 1,038 zoning permits were issued during the three-year period 2010-2012, more than half of them in the city of Oxford. Of the single-family construction permits, the vast majority were for site-built homes.

Finance Director Mike Felts reported that ad valorem property tax and sales tax revenues are being collected at a higher rate than the previous year. He said both state and federal sources are slow in making payments to the county, but added, “we believe we are on track with budgeted revenues overall for the fiscal year.”

On the spending side, Felts reported, “Expenditures are below budgeted amounts when taken as a whole.”

He illustrated his report with tables and graphs and presented a calendar for preparing and adopting a budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.