When Swansboro commissioners began looking at a proposal to move from a regional to a municipal transportation organization on Dec. 28, some expressed surprise to see a recommendation from the Swansboro Economic Development Committee.
The recommendation for Swansboro to make the switch from the Down East Regional Planning Organization to the Jacksonville Urban Metropolitan Planning Organization was included in a letter that included comments about the committee’s origin and the names of the committee members. On the committee are Susan Cummings, Junior Freeman, John Freshwater, Roy Herrick, Pat Provost, Charles Rawls and Randy Swanson. (See related item.)
Nothing much was said during the discussion on the planning organizations, which Swansboro commissioners ultimately approved, but Commissioner Frank Tursi brought up the committee during the commissioner comment section at the end of the meeting
“What exactly is the Swansboro Economic Development Committee?” he asked of Chris Seaberg, town manager.
Seaberg repeated what was in the letter, that the committee was established at the suggestion of the town’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, a plan put together by a committee between October 2017 and April 2018.
“Established by whom?” Tursi asked. “That committee was never appointed by this board. I’d like some clarification on that.” He continued, “It has no standing.”
In reply, Seaberg explained what the committee could be, likening it to The Committee of 100, a Jacksonville organization that recruits industry. But, he added, “As far as the appointments … “
Mayor John Davis said there was a vote by the previous board to establish the board.
Tursi said the fact that the committee is representing the town indicates they have some authority. If the committee is to represent the town, “The members of that committee have to be appointed by this board,” he said. “They claim their authority is from the strategic plan that this board approved.
“What we have right now is very confusing,” Tursi said. “The first I’ve heard of them is when I received this letter.”
It is a subject that will likely come up at a future board meeting, based on comments from Commission P.J Pugliese.
“Frank brought up some good points on the economic development committee,” Pugliese said. “I’d like to get some more information in it, how it interacts with our board.”
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