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Harris told the board that PTRC paid rent of $107,000 a year in Greensboro, and $809,000 in Winston-Salem for a total of $917,000 annually.
Those numbers astonished the commissioners and prompted Yow to ask if PTRC were operating out of the White House.
Winstead said he was amazed the group was paying rent that high, and asked how many employees PTRC had. Harris responded that there were 200.
In the end, 10 of the 11 commissioners voted not to support the project.
On another matter, at the August 23 meeting the commissioners requested that Payne seek possible ways that the county could show favoritism in competitive bid processes to local companies. That discussion came up when the commissioners were asked to approve a $284,000 contract with the lowest bidder, Best Uniforms Inc. of Charlotte, for new law enforcement dress uniforms for the Sheriff's Department.
Best Uniforms' bid beat out that of Greensboro-based Showfety's Uniforms Inc. by about $1,500.
Gibson said he understands that the law requires the contract go to the lowest bidder but that doesn't mean he has to like it, he said.
"Something's wrong with the system," Gibson said.
He said there should be some way for the board to favor local companies. "A company that pays Guilford County
taxes should have some benefit," Gibson said.
Yow and Commissioner Linda Shaw both said they agree, and several other commissioners also said they shared that sentiment and asked what they could do to favor local companies.
Payne said the board could petition their representatives in Raleigh to enact a law that would give counties more leeway in that area.
Yow pointed out that the state legislature makes exceptions for state service providers and materials suppliers when there's a 5 percent or less difference between the lowest bid from an out-of-state company and a North Carolina-based competitor that barely lost out on a contract.
Payne responded that the state is known for enjoying privileges it doesn't grant the counties.Guilford County
Commissioner Kay Cashion said that, regardless, there should be a way to give local companies more consideration.
"It's a complaint I hear all the time," Cashion said.
Gibson said the state's association of counties was getting geared up for its annual legislative efforts to petition state legislators for changes in the state laws. Gibson said that might be a good avenue of recourse to address the issue and many commissioners agreed.
At the August 23 meeting, the board also voted to give $70,000 to Youth Focus Inc., a nonprofit that provides a 12-bed facility for runaway youth as well as those who have been abused or who became homeless through a family crisis. Youth Focus lost a long-standing $250,000 annual contract with the Guilford County
Department of Social Services when that department put the contract out for bids earlier this year.
Chuck Hodierne, the executive director of Youth Focus, spoke on behalf of the group. He said that, in light of the loss of the contract, his organization was struggling for survival. He said the group had cut costs and positions but it was now asking Guilford County
for $70,000 to help make up the shortfall for fiscal 2012-2013.
Hodierne said his organization was the only shelter for homeless children in Guilford County
. He added that the nonprofit served 219 children in fiscal 2011-2012 that ended in June, and he said the problem of homeless children isn't going to go away.
"Obviously, these children need a roof," Hodierne said.
All of the commissioners who spoke at the meeting said they supported the group's work, but several had tough questions for Hodierne. Most of those questions had to do with the timing of the request.
The commissioners just adopted a county budget in June and several commissioners wanted to know why Youth Focus hadn't come before the board in the spring.
"There was a time to do this," Yow said. "I've got a problem with this and the problem is that we've got a process."
Yow said nonprofits lined up and asked the board for money before the county budget was adopted, and, if Youth Focus had done likewise at that time, they no doubt would have gotten money as well.
Yow added that, if the board gave Youth Focus money at this time of year, then every other nonprofit would line up asking for money in the middle of the budget year.
Hodierne explained that Youth Focus bid on the social services contract and was interviewed in late May, and, in early June, they were told no decision had been reached by the Social Services Department.
He said it was only after the commissioners had adopted the 2012-2013 budget that Youth Focus was notified it had lost the large social services department contract.
While Yow didn't support the request, the other commissioners did and the motion to give Youth Focus $70,000 in county funds passed on a 10-to-1 vote with Yow the only no vote.
The commissioners conducted other business as well. The board heard a presentation on the county's efforts to increase the use of minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs). Guilford County
MWBE Coordinator Shayla Parker told the board that the county was meeting its goals, with 10 percent of the county's business in fiscal 2011-2012 going toward women and minority-owned businesses.
At the meeting, the board also voted to purchase three ambulances and supporting emergency medical equipment for $829,000.
The board also voted to give county workers one-time additional vacation time of 40 hours – five days – in fiscal 2012-2013. That move was largely in response to the fact that the county hasn't given county employees raises for four years.
The next Board of Commissioners is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 11. The board almost always holds its regular meetings on Thursday nights, however Commissioner Bruce Davis had a conflict with the original planned date of Sept. 20 and, after much discussion, the board set the new date.