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Board of Supervisors plans Lincoln Civic Center bylaws review

A county supervisor upset about spending at the Lincoln Civic Center is urging the board to take a longer look at the rules for its governing body.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors recently asked board attorney Bob Allen to review the bylaws under which the civic center commission operates ahead of any potential board discussion on those rules, which give the commission “exclusive jurisdiction” over spending at the civic center. The push to review the bylaws is being led by District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey, who believes the board of supervisors has ceded too much authority to the civic center’s overseers.

“The board doesn’t have any say-so at all what goes on up there, and I just don’t think the board really knows what’s in those bylaws,” he said. “We’re in a crisis on these roads and bridges, and we just need to make sure we’re putting money where it needs to be, not where it wants to be.”

Falvey said he’s concerned over specific provisions in the bylaws that give the commission authority over all funds in its possession, the hiring of employees and setting of salaries, and to enter into contracts and amend its own bylaws.

The document also allows the commission to waive public notice requirements for commission meetings, though that provision might conflict with state meetings laws.

“The civic center belongs to the county, and the county should have some input as to what’s going on up there,” Falvey said. “There’s been a lot of improvements made to the civic center, don’t get me wrong. But if I had the money to fund my road and bridge program, you’d see a lot of improvements made on my roads and bridges, too.”

Falvey said he had never seen the commission’s bylaws before he was handed a copy May 21 by commission Vice Chairman Pat McCullough, who also distributed tables and spreadsheets as part of a contentious address to the board that culminated in the commission threatening to quit together over a perceived lack of respect for their work.

McCullough led the boardroom confrontation in response to Falvey’s rough handling of civic center manager Quinn Jordan’s request for assistance on a small road project at a previous meeting. Falvey later apologized for raising his voice, but not for denouncing the project — the commission felt insulted.

Supervisors sat silently and took McCullough’s criticism, but the episode appears to be far from forgotten.

“I don’t think Pat McCullough was right in talking to the board the way he did. I think he was totally out of hand,” Falvey said. “But I’m not doing this to get back at him. I don’t operate that way. I just believe in doing things the right way, and I don’t think it’s being done from the civic center standpoint.”

Falvey doesn’t try to hide his disapproval of spending at the civic center — he was the lone “nay” in a recent 4-1 vote to approve the commission’s $145,550 “red iron” project for repainting the rusted main beams at the center’s outdoor arena and barn. He was also the only supervisor to vote against a $900,000 bond passed last November for the jail roof, courthouse computers and other projects.

Pulling power from the commission would be right in line with Falvey’s beliefs, but other supervisors aren’t as eager.

“Authority over employees, fixing salaries, some of that stuff might need looking at again. I hadn’t ever seen (the bylaws), and the copy I got wasn’t signed,” said District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown. “It will be looked at, and we’ll see what the will of the board is from there.”

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said the civic center generates a lot of interest and a lot of money, and he’s hesitant to pick a fight with the commission.

“You tell me anybody else that will get out there on their time — they ain’t drawed the first dollar out there — and go check on different places and see how we could improve ours,” he said. “Who would do that? Very few.”

McCullough, from District 3, is Williamson’s appointee to the commission.

It is unclear when the board will review the commission’s bylaws. Supervisors had an executive session on June 4 for a “personnel matter at the civic center,” and Falvey asked the board to review the bylaws at the last meeting on June 18. Allen agreed to review them first.

Jordan offered no opinions on supervisors’ plan to examine the bylaws.

“We’re a public entity, here to serve the citizens of Lincoln County and we encourage everyone to understand how we operate, so we can do the best we can for our citizens,” he said.

Commission chairman William Kimble could not be reached for comment.

District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts declined to comment, saying he wanted to wait to discuss the matter with the full board.

District 1 Supervisor Jerry Wilson did not return numerous calls and messages seeking comment.