From correspondent Tammy Grubb
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen will discuss Tuesday whether there is the potential for a conflict of interest when members of the Economic Sustainability Commission who are also local business owners consider new applications for the town’s revolving loan program.
The loan program, established in 1986, has helped launch several businesses, including The Beehive, Neal’s Deli and Cycle 9. ESC members are responsible for reviewing loan applications and making recommendations to the aldermen, who make the final decision.
Local businessmen Tim Jones and Jerry Glass said Tuesday that they became concerned after learning that some ESC members are potential competitors of the juice and smoothie bar they plan to open on West Weaver Street.
“Naturally, we were very concerned about releasing our confidential business plans to potential competitors, but more importantly … we would expect that someone with such a conflict would recuse themselves from discussions concerning the application,” Jones said.
N.C. General Statutes only recognize a conflict of interest when a town officer or employee will directly benefit from the decision to approve or reject a contract, town attorney Bob Hornick said Wednesday in an email to economic director Annette Stone. Since ESC members only advise the aldermen and don’t make the decision about loans, there is little chance of a conflict, he said.
The ESC has not recommended for or against the new loan. Town staff will report back to the board Tuesday after looking into the matter and how other towns handle similar conflicts.