Two Votes Worth Explaining

Today, we had two issues come before us that I thought merited an explanation of my vote.

First, we approved the Wake County Public School System’s request for an appropriation to allow them to rent a commercial building near the school system Central Office in Cary in order to house elements of new programs for middle and high school students who do not fit in to the normal track. They will use the facility as a hub for the SCORE program for long-term suspended students as well as for a new online and alternative high school for highly motivated self-learners. In addition, the building will house the employees who will deliver wrap-around services to these students, such as special counselors, social workers and others.

I voted for this lease, despite the price tag, because the terms of the lease are competitive, and the school system answered our questions in detail. The deal must be approved by the County Commission and the Local Government Commission by February 6 in order for the lease to be available. While I did not appreciate that the County had to make a multi-year commitment to funding the lease and the programs based on the timetable imposed by the commercial landlord, ultimately the programs are sorely needed, and the idea is a good one.

Nevertheless, I take my fiscal responsibility as your Commissioner quite seriously, and will continue to review such requests very carefully.

Second, we held a public hearing concerning the Town of Holly Springs’s request for an extension of its Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) into southwestern Wake County. ETJs are a vital tool in both the County and local municipalities toolkits to ensure careful and deliberate planning of development and expansion of municipal services such as water, sewer and street maintenance. However, in this instance, there were citizens who opposed the extension who raised questions that I thought deserved to be heard in more detail than we could accomplish in a public hearing in a meeting with a full agenda. So I moved to refer the extension to our Growth, Land Use & Environment committee and my colleagues agreed.

Over the next two months we will use this case as a vehicle to discuss how ETJs work, what they mean for the people living in the areas that are subject to the expansions, and how we can assure that people who live outside of the town limits can feel better represented in the process. I hope at the end of the process that people will feel they have been listened to, and they understand the nature of the process a little better.

This really is a fun job.

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