When community leaders began laying the groundwork three years ago for a visioning process designed to improve economic development and the quality of life in the Twin Counties, they reached out to engage as many people as possible.
In the many months that followed, some 400 busy folks sacrificed time away from work and families to participate. They met regularly in small groups, exchanged ideas, evaluated proposals and drew from their experiences to shape a broader vision for the whole area. Their commitment gave all of us a better sense of the potential of the Twin Counties, and it demonstrated to outside companies the kind of leadership and resourcefulness that make the Rocky Mount community a great place to live and work.
So it came as a huge disappointment when the Nash County Board of Commissioners this week chose not to adopt a resolution of support for this giant undertaking. Commissioners in Nash and Edgecombe counties plus the Rocky Mount City Council supported the visioning process in its early stages, and Edgecombe commissioners and Rocky Mount council members renewed that pledge earlier this year.
But sources say a slim majority of Nash County commissioners – Robbie Davis, Wayne Outlaw, Lisa Barnes and Billy Morgan – opted out this time. The resolution before them had no dollar signs attached. It simply offered a chance for commissioners to encourage the process to continue.
Instead, Nash County commissioners say they want to consider recommendations from the visioning process on a case by case basis.
The move is one more disappointment by Nash County commissioners in a year full of questionable decisions. Sources say the four commissioners led by Davis are concerned about the looming property revaluation scheduled in 2014. If property values decline, as many fear in the wake of the national housing bubble burst, the reduction in revenue generated by the county property tax will pose tall financial challenges.
We share the commissioners’ concern about lost revenue, but the best way to make up that ground is to improve the county’s tax base and reduce unemployment. Those are two of the many benefits to be gained through a regional, collaborative approach to economic development.
The county saves no money by refusing to offer even lip service to support the tireless efforts of so many volunteers and supporters. Instead, its decision cracks the very foundation of the Twin Counties Visioning and Strategic Plan Process.