State Auditor Les Merritt has nominated the head of the state Libertarian Party to help the Local Government Commission decide its role in approving special financing deals like the one used for a theater in Roanoke Rapids.
Her qualifications? She's not a Democrat or Republican and she's against such financing deals, Merritt said in a news release announcing that he picked Barbara Howe to serve on the committee.
"Barbara Howe will provide the independent voice that this task force needs," Merritt said.
This week, the commission, which approves all public debt in the state, discussed creating a task force to examine its role in approving so-called tax increment financing arrangements. In such deals, the money generated by a sucessful project is used to pay back the money borrowed to get the project started.
That's how Roanoke Rapids proposed to pay back $21.5 million it borrowed to build a theater and entertainment district that would feature Randy Parton. The city has since parted ways with Parton and has struggle to sell tickets.
More after the jump.
The theater has been brought into the governor's race by Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, who has tried to blame State Treasurer Richard Moore, the chairman of the Local Government Commission, for some of the problems with the deal.
The commission members did not consider whether the theater would succeed financially when it approved the deal. Merritt said in a recent interview with Dome that he would expect that after Roanoke Rapids deal, the commission members would be more aggressive in questioning such projects. Commssion members typically rely on the organization's staff before making decisions.
"Treasurer Moore’s staff does a good job on the (Local Government Commission), but they work directly for the Treasurer and his interests," Merritt said. "Barbara will provide a voice that is free to critique anyone on the Committee or any issue that comes before it."