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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Economic issues are something New Hanover County commissioners have struggled a lot with lately. So why are they spending more than $35,000 to hire a professional facilitator to run a planning session to talk about their money problems?

On January 27 and 28 commissioners will meet with a facilitator during a strategic planning session they decided on having last year. The cost of hiring the facilitator: $36,000. But what exactly will commissioners talk about that couldn’t be resolved amongst themselves?

“I think one of the big ones is going to be budgetary issues and the issue of tax increases verses expenditure cuts,” commissioner Brian Berger said.

Spending money on hiring a facilitator to help solve economic issues seams a little ironic to some folks. New Hanover County resident Matt Rhodes says this is just another example of spending money the county doesn’t have.

“I was under the impression that that’s why we had the County Commissioners for anyway. That’s their job,” Rhodes said. “And once again, it’s money that’s wasted on things that we don’t need.”

Berger even says he’s wary about the expensive price of hiring a facilitator.

“I’m skeptical that we need to spend $36,000 on a professional facilitator, but I’m going to keep somewhat of an open mind,” he said.

Though hiring the facilitator comes at a high price, commissioner Rick Catlin says it is necessary to successfully plan a long-term solution.
Catlin says the commission has not had a strategic planning session in more than 15 years, and it could help the board to decide what to focus on.

“I’m going in there with an open mind,” Catlin said. “If we’re going to spend that much money, then we need to make it happen and we need to come out of there with a plan that’s good for all the citizens of New Hanover County.”

Commissioners and selected staffers will meet the facilitator next Thursday and Friday at the County Executive Development Center on Military Cutoff.

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8 Comments on "New Hanover commissioners spending money to talk money"

...a Tax Payer
2015 years 10 months ago

This is only a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money wasted by NHC> Ask your County Commissioners HOW MUCH was spent to revamp the recently defunct UNCW executive center off Military Cutoff. WHY it was THOUGHT necessary to do so in these times? If only a REAL news station would do some investigation on where the money gets spent, you’d have yourself a FEAST of stories to report about waste in local government!

2015 years 10 months ago

I was expecting better BUT I’m not unacustomed to being disappointed. I’m disgusted that an elected commission needs to spend $36K to help them find themselves… Here’s my advice: choose a nice restaurant, order off of the best of the menu, drink a couple bottles of fine wine, look at each other, get to know each other and get your sorry arses focused on solving the problems that you were elected to solve.

Wade griffis
2015 years 10 months ago

It has always been amazing to me that we elect people to public office because they supposedly have some competence in business or public service-
and then they want to hire “consultants” to tell them what to do.

I agree with one of the above posters. I could have told them what to do for a case of beer.

2015 years 10 months ago

A waste of money, but if it is so needed why not use an organization from North Carolina. Can’t tell me there is not an organization in this state that can not do this. Whatever happen with statement by Mr. Barfield that the County should spend the County’s money locally and not for out of state suppliers! Commissioners talk but do as they please- ” Good for the citizens” like more jobs, etc. the same old, same old words to justifiy their actions.

2015 years 10 months ago

Its our fault for electing them,the reason they need to hire a firm to figure out what to do is because none of them are competent to do it themselves,,,Ut oh, I better apoligize for saying that before one of them comes to my house and beats me up! EEK

2015 years 10 months ago

35K for someone to control the bathroom breaks!!!!!!!!!!!!

2015 years 10 months ago

at a time when every level of government is facing budget shortfalls; state colleges are looking at degree program elimination; school systems are looking at major reductions in teacher ranks, New Hanover County opts to spend $35,000 for a Budget Facilitator.

First question should be please identify this facilitator. Second, what experience does the facilitator have in government planning and budget setting.

Heck, Common and I could have facilitated for a next to nothing in cost.

We’d enter the room; place our heaters on the table. Stand before a blackboard. You have X number of dollars to spend. Your projected cost of government services is Y. That means budget cuts of a certain percentage. Questions, so far?

Step 1, eliminate frivilous, non-essential services.

Step 2, adopt a school policy which permanently bans the thugs and disruptive element so teachers can teach and students can learn.

Step 3, hold parents accountable for the actions of their ill mannered, disruptive children. Fines and home detention come to mind.

Step 4, across the Board budget cuts for all county departments.

That’s said somewhat “tongue in cheek”.

But, this country, at every level, is in the financial predicament it is in due to spending more than you take in. That has to stop.

Washington released a study this week, noting State Government Pension Plans, across the country, are underfunded to the tune of $2.7 TRILLION.

Camden, NJ just laid off over 100 fire fighters and police officers due to budget considerations. Many essential services will end.

This is not hard to figure out.

Healthy, physically able life long entitlement recipients need to get off the public dole and get a job. McDonald’s, Lowes, Food Lion, and others are hiring.

Tough times call for tough decisions.

2015 years 10 months ago

Seems a little unreasonable to just go out and hire a “facilitator” without any form of explaination. What is the purpose? What is the payback? Is this a luxury or a neccessity? If it’s neccessary, why? What does the $18,000 per day get them? It’s entirely possible that this is a needed expense…but how is anyone to know? Just because the commissioners said so?

If the fire department wants to go out and buy a truck or hire firefighters, they damn well better have justification. Seems only fair that the same scrutiny applies to the local government.


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