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AVRC collects budget funds

GARYSBURG – The compromised budget for North Carolina brings help to Northampton County.

The 2006-2007 North Carolina budget, which is expected to be approved today (Thursday) includes $3.75 million in help for the North Carolina Advanced Vehicle Research Center located near Garysburg.

The sum, which is half of the $7.5 million for the project included in the original budget of the North Carolina House of Representatives, came about largely because of the efforts of Representative Michael H. Wray (D-27th).

“Representative Wray led the charge in the House,” Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown said.

The House version of the budget fully funded Rep. Wray’s request for $7.5 million while the Senate budget contained no appropriation for the project.

While both Brown and Rep. Wray admitted the project needed the full $7.5 million, both were pleased that the compromise budget allowed the project to continue.

“We’re moving forward,” Rep. Wray said by telephone Wednesday on his way to Raleigh to take up consideration of the final budget. “It’s not what we needed, but we’re happy with what we have.

“We’re going to move forward, keep the project going and come back in the long session,” he added.

The Northampton County representative said he would introduce a bill for additional funding for the NC AVRC in the long session next year, but wasn’t sure at this point what appropriation he would seek.

Brown said he was also happy for the project to be receiving funds from the General Assembly.

“We are pleased with the compromise,” he said. “Like everyone else involved in a construction project of this magnitude, more would have been better; nonetheless, we appreciate the demonstration of support for the project on the part of the General Assembly.”

Rep. Wray has helped deliver $11.25 million for the project over the past two sessions, his first, in the state house.

Brown said both the $3.75 million from this year’s budget and the $7.5 million from last year’s state budget were being used in similar ways.

“The lion’s share of those funds will go to facility construction,” Brown said. “There will be a portion utilized for professional services and equipment, but the majority will go toward facilities.”

Brown said first phase of construction was still in the planning stages. He said there were some preliminary designs, but they would soon be moving into master planning stages which would lead to final design, assessment of construction costs and then sending out bid packages.