City, county to meet

Published 8:28 am Friday, July 24, 2009

FRANKLIN—Members of both city and county governing bodies will sit across from each other for a joint meeting on Tuesday.

The meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. in Rooms 204 and 206 at the Paul D. Camp Workforce Development Center, will be the first in a few years between the Franklin City Council and the Southampton County Board of Supervisors.

“We’re very much looking forward to it,” said Franklin Mayor Jim Councill. “We have several areas of mutual interest, and we want to have an open conversation to see where we can find places we can collaborate.”

Southampton County Administrator Michael Johnson said he and June Fleming, the city manager for Franklin, were putting together an agenda for the meeting.

“I know she has polled the City Council members and I have polled our board members to see if there are issues that they would like to put on the table for discussion,” Johnson said. “We’re in the process of finalizing that agenda now.”

The meeting will begin with citizens’ time to address both boards, Councill said.

Both Councill and Johnson speculated that the meeting could touch on a wide range of subjects, including waste management, water and sewer, economic development and the possible sharing of services.

“We’re certainly interested in discussing with the city the possibility of negotiating a bulk water agreement,” Johnson said. “This would be primarily for water that would come through the line that serves Riverdale Elementary School now, the (line) that was constructed by Hampton Roads Development a couple of years ago.”

Councill said it is “natural for us to talk about water and sewer development,” and added that the city and the county, both members of the troubled Southeastern Public Service Authority, should also discuss their options for waste management after 2018, the year both municipalities’ contracts with SPSA expire.

Planning is another potential area for cooperation.

“There’s a good possibility of asking our planning boards to work together as each of us attempts to develop bordering territory,” Councill said. “We want to see what we could do that would be complementary to each other.”

It has been some time since both governing bodies have met face-to-face. Councill said meetings used to be held every year or two, but tapered off after the Hurricane Floyd flooding in 1999.

Johnson said he believed the last meeting between Franklin and Southampton took place in 2005, when they both collaborated to create Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc.

“We’ve all been busy, but it only makes good sense to meet,” the mayor said. “I think it’s become even more critical. The future is going to bode well the more we work together.”

Johnson concurred, adding, “I’d like to think that this would be the beginning of at least some type of regular interaction between the two governing bodies.”