The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 15, 2013

County, Tarboro prepare for retreats

The Daily Southerner
Calvin Adkins

ROCKY MOUNT — The Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners and the Tarboro Town Council have scheduled retreats to discuss the finances and general welfare of the respective governments.

The council’s retreat is set for Feb. 23, at the Fountain At The Albermarle, while the venue for the  commissioners’  retreat is scheduled for March 26, has not been selected.

Tarboro’s agenda will consist of department updates, and projects for the upcoming fiscal year, said Tarboro Town Manager Alan Thornton.

“We will start by discussing what council’s goals are and what they would like to see accomplished,” Thornton said. “Council will work on a strategic plan and establish goals and objectives for both long and short term. This is a good opportunity for myself and my staff to get a mutual understanding from the council and also understand the challenges that we will face in the coming year.”

In a workshop type enviroment, local governments use retreats to hash over budgets, expenditures and revenues in an effort to improve the economic and social welfare of their respective entities for the upcoming fiscal year. The gathering takes longer than usual meetings.

“We are dealing with over a $50 million dollar budget and sometimes we need to spend a considerable amount of time on issues to make sure that everybody (board members) is informed,” Carmon said. “It helps us to get from point A to point B. So, to spend a day or two to take care of that type of business, I don’t thing that is unreasonable.”

In the past, Tarboro and Edgecombe’s retreats lasted from a workday to a workday and a half. When asked, department managers give respective reports to the governing body. This year, Edgecombe’s is scheduled a one-day retreat.

Tarboro and Edgecombe retreats are not held in the confines of the respective monthly meetings. Carmon said his staff has pinpointed three possible locations within the county to hold the March retreat. The commissioners will likely choose the location and set the time during its March 4 monthly meeting.

In the past, the county and town have held retreats at the Outer Banks a day and a half. Some citizens argued that was a waste of money. The last time Tarboro held a retreat outside of the city limits was in 2011 when they visited New Bern. Last year, the meeting was also held at the Fountains of The Albermarle.  

“We hold the sessions to better deliver public service to our citizens,” Thornton said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Thornton was hired in 2011, but was not on board when the council went to New Bern.

Some of the most memorable issues Carmon said have come out of previous county retreats include; the discussion on the countywide water and sewer project and the consolidation of Edgecombe County Rescue Squad and economic development which includes creating jobs. With the county currently holding the infamous third highest unemployment rate in the state, it is likely that job creation will be on March’s retreat agenda. That discussion could include the Kingsboro Industrial Site that has been the topic of conversation in the county for the last three months. The site has been tagged “prime location for industries.” Recently four tracts of land were rezoned to M2 industry to make the area more attractive for prospect businesses.

“All of the retreats that I’ve been to are working retreats – they (commissioners) go to work and work hard for eight to 12 hours a day. They do that to make sure that the taxpayers money is spent wisely for the coming year.”