Letter: Appearances, intent questioned

Aug. 02, 2014 @ 10:53 PM

To the editor:

At this past Monday’s city council meeting a peculiar event occurred, one that I hope someone can explain for the curious.

Included in the city council’s agenda under the heading “regular work session” was “a request from Vance County citizen Tommy Hester regarding water lines in the U.S. 158 Bypass and Oxford and Poplar Creek Roads areas.” The mayor introduced Mr. Hester as County Commissioner Hester. Commissioner Hester thanked the mayor, and then introduced Tim Carpenter and Mike Meyer saying both were available to answer any questions.

Mr. Carpenter is the latest engineer charged with the design and development of the Vance County residential water project. Mr. Meyer is an employee of EnviroLink, the out-of-county for profit company contracted by Vance County to manage water sales to county residents.

Following the introductions Commissioner Hester said he was not making a presentation as a county commissioner but as a commissioner of his district, specifically the part of his district that is within the city’s Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction. Commissioner Hester said he had $500,000 in USDA grant money (other people’s tax dollars) to give the city to encourage the building of a water line in his district’s ETJ.

Was Commissioner Hester acting as a public citizen with special authority from the board of commissioners to bring Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Meyer to a city council meeting to answer any questions? Did private citizen Hester have board approval to offer the city $500,000 of USDA grant funds, funds intended to build a county residential water system, to build a water system in the city’s ETJ in his district?

Worth noting, as a Vance County commissioner, Hester did approve using city property owners’ tax dollars to repay the debt owed for the county water system.

Michael Bobbitt