Staff photo by Allison Potter
Senator Thom Goolsby, second from right, along with Representatives Ted Davis Jr., from left, Rick Catlin and Susi Hamilton talk about the importance of communication between local and state officials during the first New Hanover County local officials caucus on Thursday, Jan. 3.
During the first New Hanover County local officials caucus on Thursday, Jan. 3, state Senator Thom Goolsby along with three state representatives talked about the importance of communication between local and state officials in the upcoming long and short General Assembly sessions.
Goolsby said he spoke with New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White about the county’s business. He said in the past he has not reached out to the county commissioners or board of education members to talk about what impacts state laws would have locally.
Representatives from the Wilmington City Council, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College and the three beach towns were also present at the caucus to discuss issues.
Beach town officials, along with Representatives Ted Davis Jr. and Rick Catlin, voiced concerns about beach renourishment funding at the state and local levels and coastal insurance rates. Davis and Catlin said their experiences on the county commission would bring additional knowledge to their work at the state level and make them more sensitive to local issues.
“As a commissioner, I did not like it when the state told us what to do,” Catlin said.
He said as he digs into the issues, he realizes there are a lot more questions, such as with unemployment insurance debt, mental health and beach renourishment.
In response to questions from Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr. about funding for school safety and vehicle tag taxes, Goolsby mentioned the North Carolina film incentives and how they are beneficial to the state.
“Hopefully we’re going to be looking at not the kind of budget crisis that we had before,” Goolsby said. “... Film is good for North Carolina. We’ve got to figure out how we work our way through that.”
The topics of voter identification, the North Carolina tax system, Fort Fisher funding, judicial system funding and the unintended consequences of state decisions on local municipalities were also briefly discussed.
Goolsby asked all local municipalities to get together a legislative agenda before the end of January.
“I think any time you’ve got communication with folks in Raleigh, the better,” said Wrightsville Beach Alderman Darryl Mills following the meeting.
He said beach renourishment is clearly the most important issue for Wrightsville Beach.
Mayor David Cignotti said town officials have gone to state representatives in the past when they had an issue instead of coming up with a separate legislative agenda. On Thursday, Jan. 10, the Wrightsville Beach board will discuss the town’s main goals for officials to work out.
“My guess would be that the board would agree that beach renourishment is obviously, probably at the top of the list to make sure that there’s still state contribution toward beach renourishment and also that the state look at some alternate revenue sources that we can use for inlet maintenance,” Cignotti said. “And to make sure that we preserve the money that has been saved to support beach nourishment in the future. We need alternate sources to help support that money in case the federal government and the state government contribute less to beach renourishment.”
A brochure outlining the city of Wilmington’s 2013 state legislative agenda has supporting a new revenue stream for shoreline preservation, restoration and beach renourishment as one of the bullet points.
“We’ve provided information in the past about how much of an economic engine our beaches are and without this hand out front it would damage our local economy severely,” Cignotti said. “They understand the big picture.”