The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday adopted a consent agenda that rejected funding proposals from local nonprofit organizations, approved acceptance of 11 offers for county-owned surplus land, and agreed to offer three more properties for sale.
The consent agenda also called for continuing to lease office space to the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Inc. at 245 Person St.
In February the county asked for and received proposals from Fayetteville-area nonprofit organizations. The official RFP (request for proposals) asked nonprofit organizations to submit proposals for projects that would help the community recover from negative economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The county received 54 proposals.
The program, "Aid to Nonprofits,” was to use American Rescue Plan money to fund the proposed services. From the onset, commissioners sitting on the board’s American Rescue Plan Committee balked at funding levels the county staff recommended for the proposals. The ARP Committee consists of Commissioners Jimmy Keefe, Glenn Adams and Toni Stewart.
After review and discussions at subsequent ARP Committee meetings, commissioners agreed that the proposals were too broad and varied for proper comparison, had varying scopes of services, and proposed budgets that ranged from less than $50,000 to more than $1 million, sometimes for the same services. Some committee members wanted to have a “return on investment” per dollar and people served. Also, committee members said some of the proposals were for services already provided by the county.
The proposals were the result of a formal “request for proposal” (RFP) process, and county legal and finance experts told the commissioners they could not alter proposals or fund the proposals at other than the requested amounts. County Attorney Rick Moorefield told committee members they could, however, simply reject all proposals.
At the October ARP Committee meeting, members voted unanimously to recommend rejecting the bids.
Based on those actions, county staff recommended to the full board that it follow the ARP Committee’s recommendation to reject the bids.
Keefe asked to pull the 11 offers for county surplus property when he noticed 10 of the 11 offers for property to be sold came from one person. Carmen Cameron was the person of record for those offers.
“Was there any particular background information?” Keefe asked, referring to one person buying the majority of the property.
Moorefield said there was no background information, and the buyer responded to county advertising placed in the newspaper and on its own website.
Keefe then motioned for acceptance of the offers and the motion passed unanimously. Keefe, however, again questioned the county selling properties below listed tax values.
In pre-meeting action, the commissioners welcomed newly-hired Dominique Hall, the county’s Human Resources director, and newly-hired Nikeisha Waring, the chief diversity officer. Hall will take over the county’s personnel duties from Assistant County Manager Brian Haney, who also served as the interim Human Resources director when he was hired earlier this year.
The commissioners also met recently-hired interim County Manager Renee Pascal, who will assume her duties when County Manager Amy Cannon retires in late December. Pascal is working with Cannon during a transition period.
Adams thanked Pascal for assuming the job of interim manager while the county continues its search for a permanent county manager.
Tourism Development Authority board
In business action, Moorefield recommended the board make the appointments as requested by the county’s Tourism Development Authority board for the staggered terms, and to further consider the reappointment of Pavan Patel for a shortened term as the representative of hotels/motels under 100 rooms. Patel is the only member whose term has not expired, and it will give the board time to seek applicants, Moorefield said.
According to Moorefield, the Tourism Development Authority has failed to make appointments to its board since August 2019. Of the five members appointed by the Board of Commissioners, only Patel is serving an appointed term. His term expires Nov. 30. The other four appointed members are all holding over because successors have not been appointed and taken office. The chamber CEO has not attended a meeting since Shari Fiveash left the chamber. The other ex-officio member is the county manager, according to Moorefield.
Jeannette Council motioned to accept Moorefield’s recommendation; however, Keefe voted in opposition to the recommendation, calling the situation a “train wreck.”
“This is hurting our community. It’s not a good board makeup if it doesn't include all aspects of tourism,” Keefe said.
Adams voted in favor of the motion but agreed with Keefe and suggested the commissioners discuss the Tourism Development Authority board composition in the future.
To change the makeup of the TDA board, the county would need to seek the help of the county’s local legislative delegation to sponsor a local bill.
Commissioners also recognized clerk to the board Candice White, who is due to retire on Dec. 1.
White served the county for more than a decade as county clerk. She came to Cumberland County on July 3, 2011, after working as clerk to the City Council for the city of Fayetteville.
"Candice White, since I’ve been on this board, has been the clerk and has kept us all in line and kept everything in order,” Adams said. He added his personal gratitude for her service to the county. “We wish you all the best.”
"It has absolutely been my privilege to serve my community and this local elected body, in addition to other local elected bodies, but I just appreciate all of you,” White replied.
The board approved Andrea Tebbe as acting clerk during White’s absence prior to her retirement.
Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.