Sen. Hartsell Introduces Bill to Install Mynatt, Honeycutt in JulyJun 26, 2014 04:06PM ● By Jason Huddle
Raleigh - According to newly-filed documents, Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (NC-36) has proposed an amendment to House Bill 1218 bill that would allow the state to install Commissioner-Elects, Diane Honeycutt and Grace Mynatt during the next County Commission meeting in July. The bill calls for two additional seats on the commission that would expire in December of this year, when Honeycutt and Mynatt would then take their seats to which they were elected in the May primaries by virtue of the fact that there are will be no opposing Democratic Party candidates in November's general election.
There is little doubt that this proposal by Hartsell is in reaction to last week's move by outgoing commissioners, Jason Oesterreich, Chris Measmer and Larry Burrage to propose and then pass and amended county budget that caused both outcry and support from both their political colleagues and the public. Some of the most controversial cuts in the amended budget included the slashing of several county jobs, library positions and the cutting of funds for park projects, as well as a complete defunding of the Cabarrus County Economic Development Corporation. If this amendment were to pass, it would effectively remove the "majority" rule that the three sitting outgoing commissioners enjoy and used to their advantage in order to pass the amended budget.
Click HERE to read the proposed bill in it's entirety.
"I think its an excellent solution to the problem we have that will enable the commission to work in the manner that was endorsed by the voters in the may primaries," Commissioner Steve Morris told Cabarrus Magazine. Morris also said that he believes, should this bill pass, then the amended commission could conceivably undo the budget vote that took place last week. "To the best of my knowledge the county budget can be amended at anytime before or after the 1st of July with a majority vote." Should Mynatt and Honeycutt be installed, then they would likely side with Morris and Commissioner Liz Poole who voted against the amended budget.
For her part, Honeycutt told CM that she will be "interested to see how it all turns out. My understanding is that it has passed the Senate but not the House yet." She went on to say that she would take the seat if the amendment passes. "I've heard from many people (since the budget vote) asking if there was anything that could be done." however, she is quick to point out "It's out of my hands."
Cabarrus Magazine has also reached out to Commissioner Measmer for comment. As of the time of this posting, no calls had been returned. We will keep you posted as this story develops.
Senator Hartsell said today (6/27/14) that he feels his actions are justified. "The issues in the primaries were fully discussed and one side prevailed over the other," He explained. "It seems to me that this a appropriate that, as there is no opposing candidates in the general election, (the newly elected candidates) joining the board now makes sense, rather than waiting six months."
Commissioner Oesterreich posted on his blog today, "Be clear, if the politicians can create and appoint new commissioner positions simply because they don’t like the outcome of a vote, they can do anything they want to you." He also claimed, "...the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners reduced our $209 million budget by just under $4 million—a less than 2% reduction."
However, Hartsell cautioned that those cuts could lead to bigger problems because of potential litigation against the County. "These budget cuts might end up costing more than they supposedly save."
In his blog, Oesterreich also said, "Be clear folks, the political class cannot allow any budget reductions. The political class of our country, state, and county has become wealthy off the people. The politicians of both parties are happy to see government grow as long as they, and the people that fund their campaigns, get their piece of the government growth. Big government spends lots of money—the political class of both parties knows this and they get theirs first."
Hartsell had no direct response to the blog post except to say, "If Mr. Oesterreich whats to give me a call, I'll be glad to have a conversation with him...Elections have consequences and we the people have spoken."
The amendment passed the Senate on Thursday and will head to the House for a vote on Monday. Hartsell said he is very optimistic it will pass. For now, both sides will just have to wait and see.