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 In the News: May 13, 2010 

 

GENERAL

Wake mayors unite behind common wants. In politics, allies often can be one's biggest asset. Which is why the mayors of Wake County's 12 municipalities joined forces in advance of the 2010 short session of the state legislature, which begins today, to lobby for local bills that would grant each of their towns new powers. Some want the authority, for example, to exempt citizen e-mail addresses from public records law. Others wish to retain the right to expand their borders when necessary. All of them want the General Assembly to avoid usurping local tax dollars to fill in gaps in the state's budget.

 

Belville mulls government change. The pros and cons of reverting to a mayor-council form of government were explored Wednesday by Belville's Board of Commissioners. At an informational meeting, commissioners heard from Jack Vogt, a professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Government. There are advantages to both government types, Vogt said. Belville, with a population of about 1,400 and no police or sewer system to maintain, switched in 2007 to a council-manager structure that included a town manager who oversaw employees, budget preparation and major policy issues like development. Town manager Tracie Davis was dismissed in January.

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Legislators back to work on proposed budget. The North Carolina proposed budget is drawing more concern from educators and other State employees. The General Assembly reconvenes on Wednesday and the legislature will immediately go to work on cutting the budget. They plan to adjust the second year of the two-year budget they adopted last summer. The $19.6 billion plan needs to be trimmed because it can’t keep up with the spending plan that begins on July 1st.

 

Legislators convene in tough budget year. Overcoming a projected $1 billion budget hole will top the agenda when the General Assembly’s “short” session beings Wednesday, but lawmakers might face a number of other prickly issues as well, among them the cap on charter schools and annexation reform. The budget debacle isn’t as dire as last year when legislators faced a multibillion-dollar shortfall. Gov. Bev Perdue and the Democratic-controlled legislature ended up passing a budget that contained spending cuts but also a sales tax hike and new taxes on alcohol and tobacco.

 

Lawmakers start session with a sticky issue. Opening day at the legislature is supposed to be ceremony, hugs and spiffy, first-day-of-school clothes. It's not usually thorny issues like, say, how much the state could rake in if it started setting up video poker terminals, which the legislature banned four years ago. Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat, brought that bombshell up on opening day - it turns out he had asked North Carolina lottery officials to estimate the number. The answer? $350 million in the first year and up to $576 million by the third.


ANNEXATION

Demonstrators greet lawmakers on opening day. North Carolina lawmakers are hearing directly from the public as they start their annual legislative session in Raleigh. This year’s session of the General Assembly opened Wednesday and lawmakers were greeted by opponents of the new federal health reform law and forced annexations. Supporters of a law to legalize medical marijuana also came to the Legislative Building to show support for the idea.

 

Martin County residents tackle annexation fight. Forced to pay higher taxes is what homeowners in Martin County will have to do if a proposed annexation is passed. Residents who believe they are being forced into the Williamston city limits took their fight in front of the County Commissioners Wednesday night.  On May 3rd, Williamston city officials decided to annex over 200 homes in the Country Club area, Cedar Hill Subdivision along with two other subdivisions.  The 'Martin County Citizens Against Annexation' presented a resolution to county commissioners asking them to help change the laws of forced annexation in North Carolina.

 

SWEEPSTAKES CAFES

Emerald Isle panel slows cafes. This town has adopted a six-month moratorium on Internet sweepstakes cafés, during which time the town will consider whether and how to incorporate the cafés into its ordinances. “It is not a typical Internet café,” Kevin Reed, town planner, explained to the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night’s meeting. Patrons of Internet sweepstakes cafés buy “airtime,” Reed said, and during that time they play games that, based on predetermined odds, the patron will either win or lose. Winning patrons are recipients of cash prizes or other items of value. …”