ELIZABETHTOWN — Members of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners and County Manager Greg Martin got a chance to meet with state representatives and members of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ annual County Assembly Day event.
“We had a good meeting,” said Martin.
He said county commissioners from around the state met with the association’s staff and received updates on the top legislative issues identified earlier in the legislative goals.
Martin said the no. 1 issue is restoring lottery funding for school construction. He said doing so would be very beneficial for Bladen County with the needs and plans the local school system has presented.
Martin said that originally, the wording on the lottery legislation indicated that 40 percent of the funds were supposed to be earmarked for school construction only. He added that several years ago it was approved to reduce that funding from 40 percent to about $100,000 million annually.
“This past year they changed the general statute to delete the 40 percent requirement,” said Martin.
He added that the counties have capital needs. Martin said that in order to receive funds from the lottery fund, the local board of education and the board of commissioners must submit a joint application.
Martin said the association staff told the group that a bill, known as House Bill 1107, has been introduced into the N. C. House by Rep. Bryan Holloway that would restore the 40 percent earmark for county school construction needs.
Martin added that the group also spoke with Rep. Ken Waddell and Rep. William Brisson, who both represent portions of Bladen County in the N.C. House, regarding several issues and asked them to show support for House Bill 1107.
Martin said that the failed sales tax referendum that was on the May ballot in Bladen County was earmarked to be used for school construction. He added had the measure passed in May, it would have meant an additional $460,000 per year for school construction needs in Bladen County.
Martins said that only a portion of the school lottery funds can be used for school capital outlay projects such as construction needs. He said there is another portion of the lottery funds that can be utilized for reducing class size.
Martin said that a number of representatives have signed onto the bill as sponsors including Reps. Waddell and Brisson. To date, Martin said about 69 of the members of the N.C. House have singed onto the bill as co-sponsors.
“In the House, it appears to have strong support,” said Martin of the legislation.
Martins said they also met with Rep. Brisson and Rep. Waddell about other issues as well. One issue they spoke with Rep. Brisson was regarding a bill that requires that the property taxes have been paid on a parcel before the Register of Deeds can transfer ownership of the property.
The group also requested to have Bladen County added to the list of counties covered by a statute that makes it illegal to call for ambulance services if it is not an emergency situation, said Martin.
“There were a number of issues discussed,” said Martin of the day.
He said that N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis also met with the group and brought them up to day with the happenings in the General Assembly’s current session.