Board sends requests to state representatives

First Posted: 2/3/2009

DOBSON As legislators in Raleigh prepare to address the business of state and local funding, Surry County commissioners have asked for transportation, 911 surcharge money and for a room occupancy tax.
In its resolution, the Surry County Board of Commissioners asked legislators to address specific concerns about state funding of road projects including the completion of Interstate 74 across North Carolina.
The completion of local and regional road and bridge projects and many of which have been delayed due to funding limitations. The development of a program for addressing the rural transportation problems of those citizens throughout North Carolina who live and must drive on unpaved roads that are not part of the state roads system. These citizens, like all our citizens, pay state gasoline tax, a portion of which is attributed to their travel on unimproved, non-state system roads, the resolution states.
Commissioners also requested that the General Assembly authorize a comprehensive analysis of the states competitive disadvantage with other states and local governments in recruiting new economic development investments.
The board requested that the state introduce legislation that will grant local government greater flexibility in the use of 911 surcharge funds.
Restrictions on the use of funds significantly impede the ability of local governmental units throughout North Carolina to meet the emergency services needs of their citizens. We request the establishment of a study committee with full representation from local governments, the resolution states.
The last request from Surry County is for a room occupancy tax. The board requested the introduction and approval of a local bill that will authorize Surry County to levy a local occupancy tax in the unincorporated areas of Surry County.
A bill was introduced requesting a local county occupancy tax, similar to the ones already in existence in the countys municipalities, during the states short session, but bills must receive full support from all of a countys representatives to pass the short session and Sen. Don East did not support the tax, which is put in place in area hotels, motels, inns and bed and breakfasts to collect revenues to be used for tourism efforts in the county.
Chairman Craig Hunter said there are many areas that he would like the state to look at for county funding.
First and foremost, the BOCC does not want the state to take revenues directed and collected on behalf of counties away (sales tax, like it was done in 2000 and in 2001, schools capital funding, lottery funding or Average Daily Membership or ADM funding) or make substantial cuts in county programs receiving state funding (the Department of Social Services, health department, mental health, juvenile justice, veterans and senior programs, etc.), Hunter said.
He explained, The state is facing some very serious budget issues, but the BOCC does not feel like that situation should be passed on down to local property owners. Secondly, the BOCC wants to see the state make more progress in economic development recruiting and turning our local economies around, quickly.
Third, lower corporate tax burdens on business and industries would hopefully be an economic stimulus and potentially foster business and job growth opportunities. Fourth, our roads and highways and bridges are deteriorating at a rapid pace, and it is very important to continue and increase funding for state Department of Transportation for maintenance and upgrading our roads, highways and bridges.
County Manager Dennis Thompson said that after the commissioners approved the resolution, he sent it to Raleigh for consideration.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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