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City, County Officials Debate Plan To Move Wilson Government Offices

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WILSON, N.C. — For years, the city and county of Wilson have spent millions trying to bring more culture, people and business to their downtown area. Now, city leaders worry the county could put all of that on the line.

"We can't do that if we've got people pulling out of downtown that shouldn't pull out," said Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose.

Currently, government buildings for both the city and county are located directly across from each other in downtown Wilson. County leaders recently proposed moving several departments, including the county manager's office, to a vacant building off Highway 301, outside of downtown.

At a special meeting Wednesday, city leaders unanimously passed a resolution urging the county to put those plans on hold.

"As much money and effort has been put into to revitalize downtown, this is just the first step in our minds of them pulling other things out," said Rose.

The city wants to work with the county on a facilities plan to create more space, but keep all government offices downtown.

"So far as delaying a decision that we think needs to be made now, I would not be willing to do that," said County Commission chairman Frank Emory.

Emory said the county simply needs more space now and leasing this building is the best deal. He said the county plans to leave many county offices at the current location.

"We anticipate being an active partner in the downtown development for years to come," said Emory.

County commissioners could vote on a proposal to lease a new building with an option to buy as early as next week. Emory said he expects that plan to pass.

A similar situation didn't mean a business bust in downtown Lillington. The Harnett County Courthouse left the downtown area for a new building in 2002. Nearby business owners were concerned the move would cost them customers. However, Lillington's Chamber of Commerce said it's seen an increase in downtown business activity over the past four years.


Mike Charbonneau, Reporter
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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