Budget windfall for local counties

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

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It’s like winning the lottery, without the long odds.

The biennium North Carolina budget, recently approved by the General Assembly, includes a windfall for three of the four Roanoke-Chowan area counties where a combined $66,529,940 will soon flow from the state’s coffers.

Locally, Northampton County tops the list for approved funds ($28,695,000) in the state budget. County government will receive $18,600,000 for water and sewer projects and another $2,500,000 for the Northampton Detention Center.

The Town of Woodland will gain $3,800,000 in state funding for water and sewer improvements.

The Town of Jackson is awarded $1,000,000 to install a new well.

State House Representative Michael Wray (who represents Northampton along with Halifax and Warren counties) said he was proud to also help local fire departments. The state budget includes $500,000 each for the Conway and Woodland volunteer fire departments; $400,000 for the Lasker VFD; $250,000 for the Garysburg VFD; and $220,000 for the Rich Square VFD.

Additionally, Rep. Wray secured $350,000 for Pine Forest Rest Home in Potecasi, $100,000 for the Town of Lasker, $150,000 for the Lake Gaston Community Center; and $25,000 for the Northampton County Museum.

There is $300,000 in recurring state funds for weed control on Lake Gaston.

“Locally, I was able to work across party lines to identify more than $100 million in critical investments for Halifax, Northampton and Warren counties,” Wray told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

“I supported the budget because there were important investments that will benefit our region and will help drive a stronger economy for our state,” Wray added. “Yes, there are some elements of the budget that I did not necessarily agree with but I believe that when you can get 80 percent of what you want – it’s a fair compromise for our district and our state.”

Wray also touted the passage of the state budget for what he described as its most important element: the Medicaid Expansion provision that will provide 600,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable, quality healthcare.

“The Medicaid Expansion program will be transformational for Halifax, Northampton and Warren counties – bringing additional monies to strengthen our healthcare provider networks for our hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers,” he stressed.

He also supported adding $2 billion to the state’s Clean Water projects, helping local communities make investments and improvements in their water systems, as well as investing $3 billion for major investments in the state’s transportation system.

Hertford County’s slice of the budget pie totals $26,989,940. Roanoke-Chowan Community College will receive over one-half of that total ($15 million) to construct a new allied health services building on its main campus in Union.

Hertford County local government is earmarked $6,434,940 in the budget. Six million of those dollars are for water/sewer infrastructure while the remainder goes to the Sheriff’s Office ($244,848 to install cameras in each of its vehicles), Emergency Medical Services ($110,693 for equipment), and $79,399 for radio upgrades at the E-911 Communications Center.

The Town of Murfreesboro gains $4,300,000 from the state budget to help offset its costs for a major water/sewer renovation project.

The Town of Ahoskie will receive $705,000 that will be used for new police vehicles ($250,000), parks and recreation ($250,000), the purchase of an excavator ($145,000), purchase new computers ($40,000), and $20,000 for the town’s public library.

The Union Rural Volunteer Fire Department is awarded $550,000 from the state budget.

Gates County’s share of the state budget is $10,845,000. The lion’s share of that funding ($10,145,000) will support the implementation of the county’s water and wastewater system improvements, which totals $13,350,000.

The Gates County Sheriff’s Office will receive $300,000 for vehicles and equipment. Gates County Public Schools will receive $200,000 for Naval Cadet program and $200,000 for science equipment.

“It was one of my campaign promises that I would work within the General Assembly to ensure recognition for the wonderful people of the District and the uniqueness of our beautiful area. As we can see, that hard work has come to fruition and I will continue to work for the betterment of all of our citizens,” said State House Representative Bill Ward whose legislative district covers Gates, Hertford, Camden and Pasquotank counties.

Despite repeated efforts by this newspaper, we were not able to gain information on the amount of funding from the newly approved state budget for Bertie County.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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