Wayne agencies benefit from state budget

Goldsboro News-Argus | By Steve Herring
June 12, 2018 | Link


Several Wayne County municipalities, nonprofits and agencies have received grants in the state's new budget.

"To me it is a good budget period, and a really good budget for eastern North Carolina," said state District 10 Rep. John Bell of Goldsboro. "That is what they sent me up there to do."

Local funding includes downtown infrastructure grants of $50,000 for Pikeville; $25,000 for Seven Springs; $25,000 for Eureka; and $125,000 for Fremont.

Also in the budget is:

* $30,000 for Wayne Action Team for Community Health.

* $30,000 for Communities Supporting Schools of Wayne County.

* $50,000 for ReNu Life in Goldsboro.

* $7,500 for Make a Difference Food Pantry.

* $35,000 for Wayne Initiative For School Health.

*$7,500 for the Men of Faith, Integrity and Character.

* $7,500 for All the King's Children.

ReNu Life does great work with very limited funds, Bell said. Also, there are issues with the building, he said.

"They house a lot of traumatic brain injury patients," Bell said. "They were having some challenges on what to do with their building so I was able to secure them a half million dollars last year to support their operations in funding a building or rehabbing the building they currently have.

"This ($50,000) was an additional appropriation to help with that. They fill a niche that was really void. I am just glad I was able to help a little bit."

Also of local importance is that the budget fixes the low-wealth school funding formula, Bell said.

Wayne County Public Schools had been facing the loss of $2 million in low-wealth funding because the county's tax rate does not meet the threshold required to receive the funds.

The fix not only fully restores Wayne County's low-wealth school funding, but increases it by nearly $700,000 in reoccurring dollars over the current level.

A state law exempts counties with military bases and a student population of at least 23,000 from the low-wealth formula. Currently, that applies only to Cumberland County, the home of Fort Bragg, and Onslow County, home of Camp Lejeune.

The new budget lowers that number to 17,000 and mandates that Wayne County be held harmless to the sum of $7,642,721 -- the same amount the county received in fiscal year 2012-13.

The $23.9 billion state budget includes a $700 million increase in public education funding, large pay raises for state employees and educators, an additional $60 million in Hurricane Matthew relief and $35 million for new school safety initiatives, Bell said.

"This is a great budget for the people of eastern North Carolina and hard-working families across the state," Bell said. "Our budget further invests in public education, funds new school safety initiatives, raises teacher and state employee salaries and directs more funding for Hurricane Matthew victims -- while also providing tax relief for families and job creators and saving money for future disasters and economic downturns.

"It also includes key investments in House District 10 that I fought for that encourage economic development and improve the quality of life for my constituents and communities across eastern North Carolina."

Bell said he was proud to support this "responsible, pro-growth budget" that will meet the state's needs and ensure that it remains on a sustainable path that has led to a surging economy and record budget savings.

Other funding going to House District 10 includes:

* $2 million for the Lift Fan Facility Project at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station.

* $17 million for Global TransPark, Kinston.

* $10,000 for Friends of the Homeless Shelter, Kinston.

* $12,500 for SAFE of Lenoir County.

* $40,000 for Lenior County United Way.

* $25,000 for the town of Hookerton.

* $25,000 for the town of Snow Hill.

* $25,000 for the town of Walstonburg.

Other budget highlights are:

* $60 million new funds for Hurricane Matthew disaster relief. (State disaster relief funds now total more than $360 million since Hurricane Matthew.)

* $10 million for infrastructure grants for the Golden LEAF Foundation.

* A fifth-consecutive teacher pay raise averaging 6.5 percent.

* A $700 million increase in public education funding.

* $3,150 average principal pay raise.

* $35 million for school safety initiatives.

* $241 million lottery funds to build or upgrade school facilities.

* A new baseline salary of $31,200 for all state employees.

* A 2 percent raise for most state employees and a cost-of-living supplement for retirees.

* $10 million investment in broadband access for rural communities.

* 99 percent of North Carolina families will pay lower state income taxes, or no taxes, in 2019.

* 5.25 percent new state income tax rate, down from a top rate of 7.75 percent since 2011.

* A 4 percent pay raise for all corrections officers.

* $44,000 starting pay for state troopers. (In six years of service a State Trooper will reach top of pay scale $64,202.)

* $15 million for security and safety improvements in state prisons.

* $161 million added to state's rainy day fund for emergencies, which is now at a historic high of $2 billion.


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