Fay Lewis, zoning coordinator, brought a recommendation from the zoning board to table the request for a new conditional use permit for the company until the state courts rule make a determination regarding the law passed by the General Assembly last session. The law is still in litigation after two appeals courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the new law, with one ruling it was unconstitutional and the other saying it was not. The determination of whether the law is enforceable is still up in the air. Board attorne Billy Sutton informed the commissioners that Roy Cooper, state attorney general, and sheriff Jimmy Thornton both had expressed that although the law is on the books it is virtually unenforceable and therefore not any actions will be taken on businesses that continue to conduct electronic gaming on premises.
Barefoot had requested a conditional use permit last summer but with the passage of the gaming law by the General Assembly the matter became mute. The town board had discussed an ordinance for electronic gaming but did not enact it at that time. Upon the recommendation from mayor Gerald Darden and remarks made by Sutton, the board adopted an electronic gaming ordinance for the town. The new ordinance, which became effective immediately, will require anyone wishing to operate electronic gaming machines in the town to pay a tax of $1,000 per machine with a maximum of 12 machines at any one location. The tax would have to be renewed annually and payment would have to be made prior to operation of the machine(s) or at which time additional machines are added to reach a total of 12. The gaming facility could operate from 8 a.m. until 1 a.m.. After much discussion from the commissioners they voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. Commissioner Brenda Raynor was not present at the meeting due to work responsibilities out of state.
Darden then moved the meeting to discuss the new conditional use permit. Lewis stated that Dark Horse already had a permit that was issued back before the issue was withdrawn earlier in the year to operate an electronic gaming business in the Food Lion Shopping Center. However, the new conditional use permit request was for another location. Barefoot had requested to locate the business at 301 Raleigh St. Lewis shared the zoning board’s vote to table the matter until the courts had made a decision. Several board members expressed that they should do the same and voted unanimously not to make any decision. However, if Barefoot so chooses, he can open the gaming establishment in the old location because a permit was issued for that site, members noted. Commissioner Barbara Burch expressed her opinion by saying, “If we collect the tax and the courts rule that it is unconstitutional we can just refund the money. It is better to have something in place if someone can open a gaming business before a final decision is made.”
Commissioner Alan Herring reported that the final settlement for the police cruiser wrecked last winter has been received and a new police car has been ordered.
Police chief Frankie Harrell shared that due to a shortage of paint pigments coming from Japan, the car may be delayed in its arrival. Town clerk Sheila Barefoot stated that a total settlement of $19,814 had been paid to the town by the insurance company.
Barefoot asked the commissioners to begin looking over the documents she had given them regarding the 2011-12 budget in preparation for budget discussion next month.
“I need for each commissioner to get with their departments within the next two weeks and bring back to me some preliminary budget request. I will work with the mayor for the general account during this time,” asked the clerk. “We are waiting on the county tax office to give us some idea what the new property values will be so we can adjust our rate to maintain current funding. It might even be possible we will be able to lower the tax rate due to the increase in property values,” added Barefoot.
In a matter of information, Commissioner Gary Mac Herring reported that the town Movie Night had been scheduled for Saturday, May 14.
“We have not received the movie title yet nor worked out all the details but I wanted the board to be aware that the date had been set and we are hoping for another great turn out for the event,” said Herring.
The commissioners will begin budget discussions at their next meeting in May.
To contact Billy Todd, call 910-592-8137 ext. 117 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.