Brunswick County commissioners have appointed themselves as economic development board members after voting to dissolve the county’s current Economic Development Commission (EDC) in lieu of a county-run agency to oversee industry recruitment and economic development.
Commissioners voted to dissolve the EDC and create a county agency with the same functions on July 1. On Monday, they unanimously appointed themselves as ex-officio members of the Economic Development Board and the Economic Development Corporation.
Commissioners also appointed Steve Stone, assistant county manager; Julie Miller, finance director; and David Stanely, health and human services director, to both boards.
The move to dissolve the EDC last week came hours after all members of the board of directors for the commission and the corporation resigned their posts on Tuesday.
Jim Bradshaw, the former Economic Development director set to retire in October, will continue serve as a special assistant to Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy for economic development until his retirement. Hardy will serve as the county’s interim economic development director until a permanent director is named.
“The Brunswick County Economic Development Commission and Corporation have provided valuable assistance to industries considering relocating in Brunswick County for decades,” Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy said. “We look forward to continuing to provide quality support and efforts to recruit jobs and industries to our county, and appreciate the efforts of all involved to find the most efficient ways to do so.”
During a meeting a week before the dissolution, the board of directors that oversaw the EDC adopted a resolution that the EDC and its nonprofit Economic Development Commission Foundation separate from county government.
Hardy recently spoke with Port City Daily about what prompted her decision to present board members with options on how to proceed, citing employee bonuses and other expenses paid for by the corporation as reasons for the change in operations.
Members of the board of directors were also paid twice per meeting–once by the county-funded commission and again by the corporation, she said.
“[The corporation] spent $9,200 in audit and tax preparation fees for an entity that has very few transactions,” she said. “They spent almost $64,000 from 2009 to 2014 in bonuses for three staff members. They spent $3,300 for artwork that’s in the Leland Center. They spent about $10,800 for gifts and their December meeting. Gifts were cheese and steaks from the butcher. They spent almost $7,000 in per diems.”
“$82,246 was spent on staff bonuses, [board of] director fees, gifts and Christmas meetings,” Hardy said.
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