ROCKINGHAM — Sales tax revenues were up significantly for the month of May, County Manager Bryan Land told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
“May was our strongest month of the year so far, outpacing the Christmas Holidays, which is unbelievable,” Land said. “The vast majority of this increase can be attributed to the Epicenter event in May.”
According to Land, the revenues came in 34% above the budget, amounting to an extra $188,000. He noted that he expects to see additional increases as local trends track those of the national and state economies.
While the inaugural hard rock and heavy metal music festival was an economic boon for the county, it was a bane for promoters.
Danny Hayes, CEO of Danny Wimmer Presents, said in a June video that the company lost $3 million on the festival.
“I should be shutting that down permanently and not coming back,” he said.
However, the dates for the 2020 event have been set for May 1-3, acting on a request to not have the festival on Mother’s Day weekend again.
The Enviva plant, which has been in the construction phase for almost two years, is now “fully operational,” Land said. The first load of wood pellets were shipped to the port in Wilmington last week.
According to Land, production is going well.
“We’re thrilled to have Enviva operating in Richmond County,” he said.
In terms of raw materials, 12-15 loads of wood in the form of logs and chips come into the plant hourly. Land said the facility will add $120 million to Richmond County’s tax base and more than 80 high-paying jobs averaging more than $41,000 per year.
Company and county leaders announced the plant was coming to Richmond County in September of 2014.
The Richmond County plant was one of several facilities the Maryland-based company built in North Carolina, in addition to one in Sampson County and a facility at the port in Wilmington.
The company also has facilities in Hertford and Northampton counties, as well as in Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
ROADSIDE TRASH INCREASES
Land reported that the solid waste staff picked up 692 bags of garbage last month, with a combined weight of 7 tons.
That’s an increase from June when the county collected 564 bags of trash — which equals out to about five tons — and removed 47 tires along 24 roadways.
There has been an increase in grassroots efforts of local residents to join the effort to clean up the roadways.
Volunteers from Toward Zero Waste Richmond County collected four bags of roadside trash along Chalk and Freeman Mill roads in late June.
“I sincerely appreciate the efforts by the numerous citizens that are doing their part to make Richmond County a cleaner place to live,” said Land.
He also reminded county residents interested in having their organization adopt a roadway to contact Bryan Leggett,solid waste/ recycling director, at 910-997-8338.
“We’d love to have your assistance,” said Land.
WATER AND ROAD PROJECTS
The six-month Old Cheraw water project is nearing the end with 90% of the work complete. The project is expected to come close to the $1.7 million budget with start up, pressure testing and chlorination by Sept. 1. The project should wrap up in mid-to late September according to Land.
The next two phases of the Interstate-73/74 Bypass are underway. Land said the let date for these portions of the project is planned for October of this year.
“This should be our last large-scale highway project in Richmond County for the foreseeable future,” said Land.
This project has a price tag of more than $120 Million and Land noted that he and Public Works Director Jerry Austin, are meeting with N.C. Department of Transportation officials monthly to review plans for the work.
William R. Toler contributed to this story.