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Macon leaders attend legislative goals conference

Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale speaks at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ legislative priorities conference. Chris Baucom/NCACC photo Macon County Commissioner Ronnie Beale speaks at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ legislative priorities conference. Chris Baucom/NCACC photo

Macon County Commissioners Jim Tate and Ronnie Beale and County Manager Derek Roland recently joined voting delegates from counties throughout the state to determine the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners’ legislative priorities for the 2019-20 biennium session of the North Carolina General Assembly. 

Gov. Roy Cooper delivered keynote remarks and thanked county commissioners for their commitment to public service. 

“From broadband expansion and capital needs in the school system to accessing mental health services, all counties in North Carolina are facing challenges similar to those that we are experiencing in Macon County,” Beale said. “This conference gives all North Carolina counties the opportunity to come together as one voice and make our challenges known to the North Carolina General Assembly.”

Kevin Austin, NCACC president elect and Yadkin County commissioner, presided over the two-day Legislative Goals Conference, which was held Jan. 10-11. Beale was sent to serve as a voting delegate to the conference to debate, amend, offer new proposals and cast votes on the association’s guiding principles and legislative priorities, which guide advocacy efforts at the General Assembly.

The conference is the final step in a comprehensive process, which gives each county a voice in shaping NCACC’s legislative agenda. 

“Our process offers an opportunity for all our counties to participate. These goals come from counties all across the state and have been vetted by their boards before they come to the Association. It’s a grassroots effort, which involves all 100 counties,” Austin said.

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“As we all know, the availability of broadband internet has been discussed here in Macon County for quite some time now,” Tate said. “It was interesting to see how many other rural counties across the state are facing similar issues with respect to broadband availability. I was very pleased to see that the expansion of broadband to unserved and underserved areas emerge as the top legislative goal for FY 19-20.” Below is the list of NCACC’s top five legislative goals for 2019-20 as determined at the Legislative Goals Conference: 

-Seek legislation, funding, and other efforts to expand digital infrastructure/broadband capability to the unserved and under-served areas and residents of the state. 

-Seek additional revenue sources, including a statewide bond and lottery proceeds, to equitably address statewide public school and community college capital challenges.

-Support efforts to preserve and expand the existing local revenue base of counties and authorize local option revenue sources already given to any other jurisdiction to all counties. Oppose efforts to divert to the state, fees or taxes currently allocated to the counties or to erode existing county revenue streams. 

-Support provision of state resources to ensure county ability to provide essential public health, behavioral health and social services, with specific consideration to the challenges of incarcerated persons, the continued county role in behavioral health governance, and programs addressing substance use disorder, throughout Medicaid transformation.

-Seek legislation to repeal the statutory authority under N.C. Gen. Stat. 115C-431(c) that allows a local school board to file suit against a county board of commissioners over appropriations to the local board of education’s capital outlay fund.

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