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Commission Capsule - December 20, 2011
Business Investment Grant

The Board adopted a Resolution approving a Business Investment Program Grant and an Economic Development Grant to Chiquita Brands International, Inc. for a total estimated amount of up to $1,411,000 and authorized the County Manager to negotiate and execute a contract.

This project entails the relocation of the corporate headquarters and a research and development facility for Chiquita Brands International, Inc. to Charlotte. The project will include a capital investment of approximately $14 million beginning in 2012. It will create 417 new jobs over the first 3 years with a projected average annual salary of approximately $106,000.

The Business Investment Program grant is equal to 90% of the taxes that will be paid by Chiquita and will be paid over two overlapping five-year terms corresponding to occupancy dates for the headquarters facility and the research and development facility. The estimated value of this grant is approximately $536,000.
The Economic Development grant will consist of $875,000 and will be paid out in three annual installments, proportional to the company’s progress toward meeting its commitment of 417 jobs. A fiscal impact analysis shows a present value of net benefits to the County of $2,884,095 over 6 years.

Both the City of Charlotte and the State of North Carolina will provide financial assistance to this project.

Library Update

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO Vick Phillips updated the Board on Library activities, including the search for a new CEO. The County Human Resources department is assisting the library by reviewing applications, saving the library the cost of hiring a consultant to do that. Phillips also talked about the Main Library Committee which is studying future use of the uptown building and property.

Fire Protection

The Board approved in concept a new funding vehicle for delivery of fire protection services in the unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County. Except for one small area south of Pineville, the unincorporated areas of the County are in the ETJ areas of Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville, Mint Hill and the City of Charlotte. Pineville has the right to exercise its ETJ areas in that area south of its corporate limits, but has decided not to.
Currently, 15 Volunteer Fire Departments (VFDs) provide fire protection services outside the City of Charlotte’s corporate limits, funded by a mix of County contract payments, citizen contributions, and in the case of VFDs that provide fire protection within the Towns, contributions by those local governments. As urban growth in the County continues and VFD expenses rise, the current funding strategy is unsustainable.

Under the authority granted to the Board under N.C.G.S. 153A-301 et seq., the Board directed staff to start the process to create Fire Protection Service Districts in Mecklenburg County as follows:

  • Four Town ETJ service districts – one each for the ETJs of the following Towns: Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mint Hill.
  • A fifth service district for the City of Charlotte’s ETJ and the small area south of Pineville into which Pineville could exercise its ETJ rights, but has failed to (to be called City of Charlotte ETJ Fire District).
These districts would be created to fund the full cost of providing fire protection service to all residents of the service district, with the cost burden carried by all service district property owners through the service district tax. The County would use the funds raised by the Fire Protection Service District property taxes to contract with the VFD related to a specific Fire Protection Service District, to provide fire protection services for that ETJ area.

Crisis Assistance Ministry

The Board was given an update on the operation of Crisis Assistance Ministries. CAM partners with many of the agencies in Mecklenburg County that provide long-term assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency. It is the vision of Crisis Assistance Ministries to inspire our community to justice and generosity as we provide help, hope and understanding to people struggling with limited financial resources. Executive Director Carol Hardison reported that there are thousands more people seeking help from her group since the recession started. She says her goal is to return people to financial sustainability but many have burned through their savings and cannot afford things as simple as laundering their clothes.

County Annual Audit

The Board’s Audit Review Committee met the afternoon of December 20 to hear the external auditor present the annual comprehensive audit of Mecklenburg County. Committee Chair Dumont Clarke told the full board that it was a “clean” audit in technical terms, meaning there were no substantive issues that need correcting.

Committee Assignments

Each year, the Chairman of the Board assigns members to serve on various Board committees. The item elevated to a discussion about member attendance and chairmanships. The Board approved a motion to discuss committee function and structure at its Strategic Planning Conference.


The Board directed the County Attorney to engage an investigator to conduct a fact finding probe to determine the facts and circumstances leading to the engagement of Harold Cogdell, Jr. as the legal counsel for the C.W. Williams Community Health Center, Inc. The Board also instructed the County Attorney to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the time in which any other Commissioner(s) became aware of this attorney-client relationship.

On December 6, the Board of Commissioners voted for Chairman of the Board for the 2011-2012 year. During the debate on this topic prior to the vote for chairman, Commissioner George Dunlap in talking about Commissioner Harold Cogdell being engaged by C.W. Williams Community Health Center in August 2011 to provide legal services stated that "I'm not saying there was a quid pro quo, but it doesn't look good.” Although, not an allegation, this implication suggested that the circumstances that gave rise to the formation of the attorney-client relationship between C.W. Williams Community Health Center, Inc. and Harold Cogdell, Jr. may have been in some manner unethical, unlawful or both.

Healthy Vending

One priority in the County’s Environmental Sustainability Plan is to “Support environmental workplace safety and health as a part of County operations”. The attached policy and implementation plan for Healthy Vending addresses the 2012 goal for this priority. The attached policy and implementation plan was vetted through the County’s Environmental Leadership Team as well as the suite of contributors and consultants listed in the plan. Development and implementation of the plan is through a cooperative effort by the Health Department, MyTotal Health Mecklenburg County Employee Wellness Team and the Environmental Leadership Team.

Order of the Hornet

The Board inducted Sister Mary Jerome Spradley into the Order of the Hornet. Sister Mary Jerome has continuously served the residents of Charlotte/Mecklenburg County for the past fifty (50) years. She is currently Chairperson of the Sisters of Mercy of N. C. Foundation Board and past President of Mercy Health Services, Inc., formerly known as Mercy Hospital, Inc. She served in this capacity for twenty-one (21) years. The Order of the Hornet was founded in the spirit of the early Mecklenburg patriots who signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775, and proclaimed the County’s Freedom from Britain more than a year before the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed. Those early patriots valiantly fought for their independence during the Revolution and gave Lord Cornwallis such difficulties during his occupation of Charlotte that he termed the town a “hornet’s nest” of rebellion. The Board can pay no higher tribute to those who have given so generously of their time and talents to improve the quality of life for our citizens.

Fit Friendly Award

In recognition of these activities of the myTotalHealth Wellness Program, the American Heart Association conferred to Mecklenburg County its Gold Award as a Fit Friendly Organization.

In early 2011, Mecklenburg County applied to the American Heart Association to be recognized as a “Fit Friendly” organization. The application identified the following components of the County’s myTotalHealth Wellness Program for employees: 
  • No Smoking Policy.
  • Free tobacco cessation classes. 
  • Promotion of a walking challenge, including pedometers, information on walking distributed through e-mails, MeckWeb and myTotalHealth website, with prize incentives. 
  • Artwork in the stairwells that encourages employees to take the stairs rather than riding the elevator, with County Manager Jones leading by example by taking the stairs. 
  • Mecklenburg County’s 11 fitness centers with classes where employees may participate at a discounted price.
  • Mecklenburg County’s 8 miles of mapped and marked trails where employees and residents can enjoy walking in a secure environment. 
  • Nutrition information (The VitaMin newsletter) provided from CIGNA and placed on Mecklenburg County’s employee website (MeckWeb). 
  • Numerous Healthy Cooking classes offered. 
  • Some County departments provide employees with “Healthy Snack Baskets” to promote healthy options.
  • Mecklenburg County’s internal Wellness Program, myTotalHealth, supported by a Mecklenburg County employee and a team of Wellness Ambassadors from different departments and divisions.
  • Biometric screenings were offered on site as part of the “Know Your Numbers” campaign to educate and help employees with awareness.
Commissioner James Milestone

Chairman Harold Cogdell recognized 6th District Commissioner Bill James for his 15 years of service on the Board.

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