Pitt County officials are taking steps to negotiate with a new economic alliance that county leaders pulled away from last year, according to a report at the Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.

County Manager Scott Elliott told the board that officials were pursuing a memorandum of understanding with the Greenville-ENC Alliance, a group that aligned the economic development efforts of several public and private entities, including the City of Greenville, Greenville Utilities and the Pitt County Committee of 100. Initial plans for the alliance included the Pitt County Development Commission, but county leaders voted against the development commission’s formal membership, which would have included a substantial financial commitment.

Elliott said that the chairman and vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners, officials from the Pitt County Development Commission and county staff met on Jan. 6 to discuss possible ways that the Development Commission can collaborate or partner with the alliance. The group agreed to ask the alliance to propose language that would be appropriate for a memorandum of understanding.

Scott Darnell, the executive director of the development commission, is reaching out to the Greenville-ENC Alliance about the memorandum, Elliott said.

“Our understanding is that they are designating a point person on this topic so it sounds like they are willing to consider it,” he said.

Elliott recommended postponing a proposed joint meeting between the Board of Commissioners and the development commission board.

“We are contacting the alliance, asking them to propose some type of language that this smaller group can come back and examine that would be included in an MOU, potentially that both groups could agree upon,” Elliott said in a telephone interview following the meeting.

There were no questions or comments from the commissioners for Elliott following his report.

However, during the commissioners’ comments section at the end of the meeting, Lauren White, District 6, read a statement in which she said she has confidence in Darnell.

“I look forward to continued conversations with the industrial development commission and the Greenville-ENC Alliance to encourage collaboration and partnership,” White said. “I support the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding — MOU — between the county, the industrial development commission and the alliance that will create transparency and assign roles and responsibilities on matters of economic development while maintaining the independence of the governing and taxing authority of the industrial development commission as is required by law.

“I am in favor of the development of an MOU for the county’s consideration so that we may work with our partners toward a stronger economy for Pitt County in the future,” White said.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved unanimously a request from Pitt County Sheriff Paula Dance for a grant adjustment so the sheriff’s office can hire a full-time social worker at the Pitt County Detention Center.
  • Approved unanimously a motion to appropriate $15,000 from the contingency fund to the town of Bethel to assist in repairs of its closed senior center.
  • Approved unanimously a request from Pitt County Solid Waste & Recycling to enter into a memorandum of understanding with East Carolina University that will allow ECU to operate a small composting facility on one acre of land at the transfer station.
  • Approved appointments and re-appointments to boards and councils, including the Pitt County Board of Adjustment and the Pitt County Planning Board.
  • Adopted a proclamation recognizing January 2020 as Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month.
  • Approved unanimously the December 2019 Tax Collection Report as presented by Sam Croom, county tax administrator.
  • Met in closed session to discuss matters relating to the location or expansion of industries or other businesses and to prevent the disclosure of privileged or confidential information.

The board of commissioners will meet for a capital budget workshop at 8 a.m. on Jan. 27.

The next regular board of commissioners meetings will be at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3 and at 6 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Eugene James Auditorium on the second floor of the Pitt County Office Complex, 1717 W. Fifth St.

Karen Eckert can be reached at 252-329-9565 or at keckert@reflector.com.