The Long County Commission reinforced its stance concerning reimbursement for the proposed Townsend Bombing Range expansion at its recent meeting.
It was reported at the meeting that the commission met recently with representatives from the Marine Corps Air Station and stated that the county would expect payment from the government due to lost revenue from the acquisition of land.
According to commission Chairman Bobby Walker, Long County could lose up to $400,000 from its annual budget if the expansion goes through.
“We cannot lose timberland; this is a tax base for our county,” Walker said.
Commissioner Wallace Shaw said that he feels the project is inevitable, since construction already has begun. He talked about the best form of reimbursement.
“What we think is fair is a one-time lump sum being paid to the county, based on lost taxes and timber revenue,” Shaw said. “There has been some talk about annual payments, but with that there is too much risk. If Congress doesn’t approve that money during its annual budget, and it gets cut, then Long County doesn’t see that money. With a one-time payment, that can’t happen.”
The Townsend Bombing Range is used as a training facility for military pilots and to train precision-guided munitions. Currently, the base has the capability of accommodating 43 percent of those training requirements, but with the proposed expansion, it would be able to accommodate 93 percent of the training. The proposed expansion has seen almost universal opposition in Long County due to fears that local taxes would have to be increased to off-set expected lost revenues from the acquisition of the county land.
Also at the meeting, Long County Board of Elections member Nancy McKnew went before the commission again asking commissioners for more information regarding allegations against LCBoE Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham’s alleged overpay. Walker reiterated that no information or actions would be taken until the district attorney had made a decision on the matter.
“I have verbal concurrence that I cannot release the documents you want. I am waiting on a letter from the district attorney’s office before I release this information,” Walker said.
In other business, the commission:
• appointed Danny Norman to the Coastal Area District Development Authority Board.
• appointed Janet Watford to the Coastal Regional Commission Aging Council Board.
• approved Ray’s Roofing to repair the annex building for a cost of $24,875. According to the bid, the work would have a 15-year warranty on materials and a 5-year warranty on labor.
• told County Attorney Jay Swindell to finalize the wrecker ordinance amendment regarding background checks on owner/operators.
• referred land owner Randy Ray to the code enforcement office in regards to a zoning issue on S.T. Morris Road.