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Board balks at downtown nonprofit

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BAILEY — The town Board of Commissioners has pumped the brakes on creating a nonprofit to oversee its downtown development.

“I’m not comfortable creating a 501(c) at this point in revitalization,” Commissioner Dwan Finch said during the board’s Monday night meeting.

The town’s downtown development organization steering committee, formed three months ago, recommended the effort continue as a nonprofit group at last month’s town board meeting.

“This is a lot for little Bailey, especially while still under sewer moratorium,” Finch said Monday. “How do we know it’s not a way to get special privileges for developers? I’m just not there yet.”

Finch said the organization should perhaps start simple as a committee of the board.

“It’s not a simple situation. It’s not a simple task,” said Walter Wells, who heads the steering committee. He added that state advisers said incorporating as a nonprofit organization is the way to go.

At last month’s meeting, Wells asked for $5,000 from the town to get the organization going.

“Development is on the way,” Wells said. “The longer you drag this out, the less resolution you’re going to see.”

Wells offered up the idea of a two-to-one funding match with the town doubling whatever funds the organization brings in from private donations up to the $5,000 mark.

Commissioner Allen Daniels said it shouldn’t cost more than around $600 to obtain nonprofit status, so he didn’t understand the need for the rest of the requested money.

Wells said it could cost up to $1,000 to incorporate as a nonprofit, plus studies might need to be done and other expenses could pop up.

Wells said a large majority of Main Street programs are nonprofit and the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Main Street and Rural Planning Center is facilitating the organization’s establishment.

Commissioner Joel Killion said he’d like to see public meetings before putting tax dollars into the organization. The board didn’t hold a vote on the matter.