New Hanover commissioners spending money to talk money


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?

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“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.