State grants Polk $1 million for WEG

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Money will go to state, local departments

COLUMBUS — Polk County just got a $1 million gift to pay for expenses for the upcoming World Equestrian Games.

North Carolina Legislation approved its budget last week, which included the direct funding to Polk County.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and heard the announcement from County Manager Marche Pittman.

Pittman said he requested the state grant, and the county received the allocation from legislation. He said it is good news, and will not affect local taxpayer money.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said there are three ways to pay for the expenses for emergency services locally, and he has always said as a commissioner, he would never use county money. He said the county could send bills to Tryon International Equestrian Center or get funding from the state.

“What I know we have to do is have transparency with this money,” Gasperson said.

TIEC’s Sharon Decker said the center pays for emergency services used for the facility.

Pittman said the money will come from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and he expects to get the grant application in the next couple of days.

“We have to spend it on what it’s allocated for,” Pittman said. “I want to make sure we’re really careful with it. No money will be allocated without a demonstration for need.”

Pittman said the money will be used to support state and local agencies, who are tasked with supporting and protecting the citizens of Polk County, or what he called the “outer ring of the WEG.”

“This money will be granted to support agencies with additional personnel needed for the increase in population due to WEG in the outer ring area,” Pittman said. “Monies will be transferred to the outside agencies by Polk County based on the budgeted need, and Polk County Board of Commissioners’ approval.”

Meetings with affected departments will begin in July, with a proposed budget coming to county commissioners in August.

Polk County Commissioner Chair Jake Johnson said he is happy to see state money coming to Polk County.

“We’re seeing money that might have gone to other counties coming back to Polk County,” Johnson said.