North Carolina counties voted as their top two legislative priorities on Friday to oppose any attempt by the state to shift funding responsibility for secondary roads to counties and to seek full reinstatement of lottery funds and ADM funds for school construction. More than 200 county officials from across North Carolina gathered for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ biannual Legislative Goals Conference, which was held at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham County on Jan. 20-21.
“We understand this is going to be a tough budget session for the General Assembly, and the upcoming year will also be a difficult year for counties,” said NCACC Executive Director David F. Thompson. “Many of the goals that counties adopted reflect that reality.”
Other priority goals adopted by counties are to ensure adequate funding for the mental health system, to protect the local revenue base from any further incursions by the state (more than $250 million of lottery and state corporate income tax revenues for public school capital needs were diverted by the state in 2009-11) and to authorize all counties to enact any revenue options – such as prepared meals taxes or hotel taxes – that have already been granted to at least one county.
The conference culminated a months-long process that began in mid-2010, as more than 30 counties submitted more than 200 legislative proposals for consideration. The proposals were reviewed by the NCACC’s seven steering committees, the NCACC’s Legislative Goals Committee and the NCACC Board of Directors before being presented to the membership at the conference.
Voting delegates debated and approved 54 proposals in seven subject matter areas – agriculture, environment, health and human services, intergovernmental relations, justice and public safety, public education and taxation and finance – and approved a slate of 10 youth issues developed during the Association’s first Youth Summit at its 2010 Annual Conference. To see the list of goals adopted by counties, visit www.ncacc.org/legislativegoals_2011-12.html.
The conference began Thursday with an announcement from Governor Beverly Perdue, who told delegates that she had decided she would not support privatizing the state’s ABC system. One of the 54 goals adopted by counties is to maintain local control of and protect local revenues from the ABC system.
“I would only consider options that would protect local and state tax revenue, because those numbers are significant,” said Perdue. “I want regulators … to know where every single bottle of liquor was sold. I felt it was really important for county and city governments to be part of that sales network and that system.”
“We are grateful that Governor Perdue listened to our concerns and included us in her deliberations,” said NCACC President Joe Bryan of Wake County. “Our staff and officers met with Governor Perdue and her staff members several times as she was considering this issue, and we really appreciated that chance for input. We will continue to work with Governor Perdue on this issue at the General Assembly.”
Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Forsyth County, a former county commissioner and one of three designated co-chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told attendees on Thursday that the state’s intent was not to take any actions that would exacerbate the county budget situation.
About the NCACC: The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) is the official voice of all 100 counties on issues being considered by the General Assembly, Congress and federal and state agencies. Founded in 1908, the Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of lobbying, fiscal and legal research, communications, intergovernmental relations, information technology, field visits and risk management services.