Editorial: Too much skin in the game

March 28, 2014 

Garner council members wanted the school system to pay for a turn lane that would help serve a new school. When school system officials rejected that idea, the town agreed to dig into its own pocket to help pay the cost.

Somehow it seems like the tail wagging the dog. In what we truly believe is a departure from the norm these days, Garner enters negotiations like these from a position of power. When the school system – or any other developer for that matter – objects to paying for infrastructure the town deems necessary, we find it hard to imagine that the town could, in good conscience simply dig into its pole of taxpayer money and dole it out for one specific interest or another.

Somehow in the span of a short public negotation, the town abdicates its position of strength and races to the bottom of a pile where it is pounced on by savvy business people who realize the town of Garner wants them worse than they want to be in Garner.

And, while there is certainly room in any negotiation for some give and take, we worry that Garner leaders too often give away more than they should to accomplish what a builder or another agency wants to accomplish.

In the case of a commercial development in the White Oak area, town council agreed to split with the developer the cost of moving power lines and now school officials – who weren’t likely to build South Garner High School anywhere other than on the land they have already targeted – have won their own cost-sharing agreement with the town

Growth has thankfully reared its head here again lately and we encourage the town council to remember that they negotiate with property developers from a good place. It’s not a good idea to give away too much in that process.

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