County to discuss issues tied to state budget

Catawba County Commissioners will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss legislative opportunities, challenges and consequences of the state’s budget.

Commissioners will meet with members of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ Advocacy Team (NCACC) on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Catawba Valley Community College’s Sipe Boardroom.

County officials say commissioners normally discuss legislative agendas for the N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress, and Thursday’s meeting will highlight current issues facing the state.

Job creation, economic development, tax/revenue, public safety and human services issues are just some of items the board and NCACC will discuss Thursday, according to the meeting’s agenda.

County officials will also lead discussions on various topics at the meeting, and all commissioners were invited to participate.

Following the discussion, commissioners will lead a tour of CVCC’s simulated hospital.

According to the meeting’s agenda, these items — among others — will be discussed:

Tax/revenue issues

*Support an increase to $35,000 in the Homestead Exclusion Income limit. (Board of Commissioners)

*Support an equitable distribution method in the School Capital Fund Formula/Lottery Proceeds. (Rodney Miller, finance director)

*Support maintaining local control of the North Carolina ABC System and preservation of local revenues from the system. (Kitty Barnes, Board of Commissioners chairwoman)

*Acknowledgment for supporting an increase in the reimbursement rate for local government legal work related to in rem tax foreclosures. (Debra Bechtel, county attorney)

Economic development and job-creation issues

*Support changes to North Carolina’s economic development tiering structure and state funding of economic development projects. (Scott Millar, Economic Development Corporation president)

*Support changes to development regulations pertaining to building and environmental health inspections. (Barry Edwards, Utilities and Engineering director/Doug Urland, Public Health director)

*Support local legislation similar to legislation passed last year. (Cleanfields Act of 2010) to allow Catawba County to provide triple credit toward renewable energy portfolios. (Barry Edwards, Utilities and Engineering director)

Public Safety Issues

*Discuss impacts of Justice Reinvestment Act and other jail issues. (Debra Bechtel, county attorney/Capt. Mark Shook, Sheriff’s Department)

*Continue to oppose changes for unsecured bonds. (Debra Bechtel, county attorney)

*Trends/issues in animal services. (Bryan Blanton, Emergency Services director)

Human Services Issues

*The State should maintain “electing counties” and maintain the county’s financial incentive. (John Eller, Social Services director)

*Impact of consolidating human services. (Doug Urland, Public Health director)

Elections Issues

*Support legislation to provide for less-expensive alternatives for run-off elections. (Larry Brewer, elections director)