To the Editor:
It has become evident that the principle guideline being used by Sen. Jim Davis, R-Franklin, and the Republican-led General Assembly in governing North Caroline is to cut state expenditures by placing the burden for traditional state services on local administrations.
Most counties this year are being forced to use tax revenues and reserve funds for the retention of magistrates, teachers and support staffs. And now, with the significant reduction of our State Highway Patrol (NCHP), they will have to look seriously at increasing the size and duties of their sheriff’s departments.
The State Highway Patrol is now short 102 troopers from being fully staffed. Because of the General Assembly eliminating the trooper training center, there will be no further troop replacements. Compounding the problem is the loss of seven to nine troopers per month because of retirement and resignation.
With more than six million drivers on the state’s highways, reducing state troopers will mean less enforcement, less highway safety, and longer response time to accidents. Greater stress will be put on troopers, knowing they will be working with no or at best with limited backup and support. Their vehicles will have to be driven further and longer. Along with outmoded equipment and their same workload with fewer resources, trooper safety will certainly become an issue.
Their salaries have already been frozen, and they are seeing an amazing increase in their co-pays and medical insurance. But the scary part of all this is that the Highway Patrol budget will be cut an additional $10.3 million over the next two years, reducing even further the state’s transportation safety.
Only time will tell how all of this will work out. But one thing is certain. With fewer troopers on the road and less eyes and ears to ensure our safety, the county sheriff’s departments will be forced to take on more responsibility and add more deputies, and we will see our county taxes increase to cover the cost.
For years, North Carolina Republicans have extolled the principles of public safety and law enforcement. That mantra has now been deliberately cast aside. And as a former county commissioner, Jim Davis should know better than to pass such burdens on to local administrations.
What in ‘tarnation’ was he thinking?
Ben J. Utley, Chairman
Macon County Democratic Party