RALEIGH — A contingent of county representatives made the trip to Raleigh recently to attend the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ annual Legislation Day.
The gathering, held May 30, was an opportunity for county representatives to hear issues facing the state and to get face-to-face meetings with their legislators. A total of about 200 county commissioners and county managers, representing 65 of the state’s 100 counties, attended the day-long meeting.
“It was a very productive day, with a lot of discussion on rural counties,” said Bladen County Chairman Ray Britt, who attended along with County Manager Greg Martin and Commissioners Arthur Bullock and Michael Cogdell. “There was a lot of good information, but what I was happy to hear was that metropolitan areas had been taken care of for a while and now it was time to focus on the rural counties.”
During the day, speakers like Gov. Roy Cooper, N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore all gave presentations on state, regional and county issues.
Brought before state leaders by county representatives were such issues as the need for public school funding — and legislators were urged to approve the Public School Building Bond Act, which would authorize a referendum on the No. 6 ballot for a $1.9 billion statewide school construction bond.
That’s an issue the Bladen County, among others, are in the midst of dealing with, and Britt said a lunch with N.C. Rep. William Brisson and N.C. Sen. Bill Rabon brought that out.
“We talked with them at length about that topic, including the fact that it costs a fraction of the cost of a public school to build a charter school — $27 million to $4.5 million,” Britt said. “And they agreed with us that something needs to be done.
“I still like the idea proposed by U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis recently, when he said we should push for a pilot program that would allow us to build schools using charter-school requirements,” he added.
Also discussed in Raleigh were efforts to deliver fast, reliable internet access in rural counties.
According to its website, the NCACC is the “official voice of all 100 counties on issues being considered by the General Assembly, Congress and federal/state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management and education and leadership training.”
Britt, who was attending his first Legislation Day, said the gathering was “a real good opportunity to get the ears of our local legislators in their own setting and urge them to look at our circumstances.”
He added that a brief report on the Legislation Day will be given at the Monday, June 18, meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.