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Official clarifies statement from meeting
Bell says he still may vote on bank deal
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Forsyth County News


A Forsyth County commissioner said Friday a statement he read at a work session two days earlier may have been worded a bit strongly and made a bit hastily.

Patrick Bell announced Wednesday he would recuse himself from an upcoming vote on a county banking services contract with United Community Bank due to a recent loan transaction between a relative and the financial institution.

“While the loan was to a relative and unrelated to the county’s banking ... process, I could in fact benefit from this loan transaction,” Bell said during the work session. “Out of an abundance of caution ... I will not vote on the United Community Bank contract.”

Commissioners recently accepted the bank’s proposal for services and are expected to consider a contract at an upcoming meeting.

Friday, Bell said he is considering voting on the contract, since his disclosure about the loan was intended only in an effort to be “as transparent as possible.”

He announced his intent to recuse himself on the advice of counsel.

The loan, Bell explained, is a standard loan to a family member, with whom he will probably engage in a business transaction in the future.

In retrospect, he said using the term “benefit” in his statement was not the best description.

“There really is no benefit,” Bell said. “I’m not a shareholder of the bank. There’s no income to be derived. There’s no preferential treatment to be given.

"‘Benefit’ assumes you’re getting something above and beyond what everybody else would get.”

Bell said he didn’t disclose the information when the bank’s proposal was accepted in an April vote because the loan transaction had not occurred at that time.

While he feels doing so Wednesday was the proper action, he’s not sure whether he will indeed recuse himself from the contract vote.

“Based on the scrutiny the board is under ... a decision was made — I made it a little bit hasty,” Bell said. “But if that one makes sense, I would say that I can’t buy tires from half the companies in the county because they sell tires to the county.”