Local Community Development Corporations

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Board sets aside money from Dell

By Wesley Young

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Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-2 on Monday that the $7.9 million in incentives repaid by Dell Inc. should go toward economic development rather than going into the general fund.
When Dell announced in 2009 that it would close its computer-assembly plant on Temple School Road, the company also said it would repay economic development incentives it received.
Since then, commissioners have been divided over what to do with the money. Most have favored setting aside the money for economic development, but some called for putting it in the county's general fund.
On Monday, commissioners passed a motion designating $3.7 million of the Dell money for paying a land-purchase incentive that was promised as part of the negotiations that lured Caterpillar Inc. to the county last year.
The rest — about $4.2 million — is designated for future economic development.
Commissioner Debra Conrad said before Monday's meeting that putting the money in the general fund is a bad idea, if it is meant to relieve a tight budget.
"This is a prime opportunity to keep it as incentive money so we don't have to worry about what to do if anything else like Caterpillar comes along," Conrad said. "You can't solve financial problems with one-time money. You have to solve them with permanent solutions and not temporary solutions."
Conrad joined Commissioners Walter Marshall, Dave Plyler, Everette Witherspoon and Richard Linville, the board chairman, in approving the creation of the economic development fund.
Opposed were Commissioners Gloria Whisenhunt and Bill Whiteheart — commissioners who have been most leery of economic incentives.
"It is the taxpayers' money," Whisenhunt said before the meeting. "I would like to put it in the general fund because that is where it came from."


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