Wednesday, February 1, 2023

‘It’s deplorable’: Brunswick Commissioners urge Governor to pass budget including local Covid-19 response funding [Free read]

Brunswick County Commissioners are calling attention to $6.75 million budgeted for local county health departments to respond to communicable diseases that have not been approved. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy NCGA)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Brunswick County Commissioners are urging North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to adopt a biennial state budget which includes more than $16 million in funding for the county, currently in limbo.

The commissioners’ plea comes as the county has one confirmed case of Covid-19 and has just eight test kits available total. Test kits are available in private practices, where 76 people have been tested as of Tuesday evening. Three of those tests are confirmed negative while 69 await results.

Related: How is New Hanover Regional Medical Center preparing for Covid-19 cases? [Free read]

Statewide, a total of $6.75 million allocated to local county health departments included in the proposed state budget could be used to combat the “surveillance, detection, control, and prevention of communicable diseases.” Each county is eligible to receive $27,500 for the current fiscal year, $20,000 for the upcoming fiscal year, plus additional funding based on population served.

The state has operated for months without an official budget because of extreme partisan differences but has carried on through so-called “mini budgets” passed through standalone bills.

House Bill 966 made its way to Governor Cooper’s desk but he vetoed it in June, stating it did not include adequate teacher pay or expand Medicaid. After a surprise Republican House veto override vote Sept. 11, the budget has remained stuck in the Senate since.

Local funds held up as a result of the budget stalemate include:

  • More than $13 million for public K-12 Brunswick County Schools
  • More than $2 million for Brunswick Community College
  • $1 million for the Winnabow Volunteer Fire Department and $25,000 for fire equipment in Southport
  • $190,000 for the Ocean Isle Museum Foundation to repair its museum and planetarium following hurricane damage.

The all-Republican board passed the resolution urging the governor to pass a budget unanimously. Commissioners were presented with two options for the local resolution and chose the option with language directed at the governor.

“This is just Brunswick County’s money,” Commissioner Mike Forte said at the Monday meeting. “Every county has money in there that they desperately need.”

Commissioner Marty Cooke strongly condemned the governor’s veto. “I think it’s reprehensible. I think it’s deplorable. And I think that this gentleman is playing politics with this thing for some reason and I think he is supposed to serve this state and he’s not doing a good job,” Cooke said Monday.

View the county’s resolution below:

Resolution Supporting the State s Budget – Option 1 by Johanna Ferebee Still on Scribd


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee Still at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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