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Originally published: 2013-05-09 09:48:21
Last modified: 2013-05-09 09:48:20

Our View: Defunct deal must usher new relationship

The statement that Templeton Properties intends to withdraw an $18.9 million offer took less than a minute to make Tuesday morning during a Watauga County Board of Commissioners meeting. 

The letter outlining Templeton's reasoning, made available to the media but not read into open session, drew little comment from the board.

The fallout will last much longer. 

As for any public comments that fallout enlists -- those will be determined by the two unhappy partners thrust into a working relationship by the proposed sale of this property: Watauga County and the town of Boone.

Following a closed session Tuesday, the county is considering relisting the property for sale next week. Given Phil Templeton's written intention to withdraw the offer at the end of his due diligence period, May 12, that's the earliest time frame the county can pursue.

But more than that must be pursued before moving forward.

To move past this defunct deal will call for both town and county to set aside what has so far hindered the cooperation needed to close a sale on this property -- the personal attacks and tension of the past few weeks.

Certainly, neither side has escaped those past weeks unbloodied. 

Boone has taken a deep financial cut -- almost $2 million worth to its programs and services next fiscal year. 

The county can counter that it has lost even more on the value of its property, and that any potential rise in property values is mitigated by property restrictions.

To ensure a mutually beneficial deal as new bids are considered, it is essential that several things happen.

Most importantly, town and county leaders need to speak directly to one another -- and not only through the media. Major ordinance changes should not be put on a fast track and instituted in weeks. Policy and budgeting changes should be used in the best interest of all residents, and never out of retaliation.

Public officials, elected to uphold the law, are beholden to do that in more than the letter. There is the spirit of the law tied to a public servant code of ethics. 

Now is prime time to revisit that code -- before the next deal is made.