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 In the News, May 20, 2010 

 

STATE BUDGET

Senate gives final vote to its budget. The Senate gave its final authority to a $19 billion spending plan Thursday.  The budget bill now moves to the House, which is likely to make small, but significant tweaks before both chambers have to sort out a final compromise to send to Gov. Bev Perdue.  … The budget includes spending cuts across state government. State employees and teachers get no raises and local school officials have the ability to order furloughs to achieve the necessary budget cuts. The budget cuts nearly 200 jobs from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, but restores cuts made last year to mental health services.

 

ANNEXATION

Annexation judgment released in favor of Kinston. Although those involved in Kinston’s annexation controversy have known since February that Superior Court Judge Ken Crow ruled in favor of the city, the reasons for that ruling were finally spelled out in a 10-page document released Tuesday. Crow found “that the Petitioners (residents) have failed to meet their burden to show by competent evidence failure of the Respondent (city) to meet North Carolina statutory requirements or irregularity in the annexation proceedings which resulted in material prejudice to the petitioners.”

 

GENERAL

Carolina Shores administrator says town can’t backup email. The town is still having difficulty backing up its e-mails, according to town administrator Linda Herncane. In a May 6 e-mail reply to town commissioner Joseph Przywara, Herncane wrote she had checked with town finance director Julie Munday. “We back up everything daily but not e-mails,” Herncane wrote. “Julie said that e-mails would be impossible to do.” Przywara then responded, “I think we need to look into it. Nothing is impossible. We may have to upgrade or increase storage capacity, but the ability to do must occur.”

 

SWEEPSTAKES CAFES

Town looks at machines. The Town of Black Mountain is considering a fee on sweepstakes machines, video terminals on which participants can play poker, blackjack, and other games traditionally associated with gambling. Town officials estimate the fees could bring $26,000 in the next fiscal year. The proposed ordinance would define the sweepstakes machines and levy an annual $2,000 privilege license fee for each electronic gaming operation location. Each operation would also pay an additional $500 per machine per year. Local governments across North Carolina, including Hendersonville, Weaverville, and Marshall, have already passed fees on the operators.

Internet gaming to get costly. The city last week heard from its first disgruntled business owner after imposing hefty taxes and fees on sweepstakes and Internet café-style operations and a year-long moratorium on their development. Until May 2011 existing Internet gaming establishments in Lumberton cannot expand and new gaming businesses cannot open. By July 1, those businesses must start paying an annual $5,000 privilege license tax, as well as a $2,500 fee per machine or computer. Despite the stringent operating conditions, city officials say they have not heard complaints from business owners in the city, save Donovan Oliver, who spoke at Monday’s City Council meeting.

City targeting internet cafes with high fees. … Officials in Mount Airy are choosing to deal with the growth of Internet sweepstakes businesses through the regulatory route. While they have not instituted restrictive zoning laws or moratoriums on new parlors, as some municipalities have done, they are instituting a new category in the Mount Airy Code of Ordinances pertaining to privilege licenses. Effective July 1, the category called “electronic gaming operations” will be added to the list of businesses for which the city charges privilege-license taxes. Along with that will come a charge of $2,500 per place of business and $500 for each electronic gaming machine they have.

 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Opinion: Collective bargaining bill would cost taxpayers. Nearly 32,000 North Carolina state and local public safety employees could begin negotiating contracts with unions if recently introduced federal legislation becomes law. S. 3194, The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (S. 3194), sponsored and introduced April 12 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would override North Carolina law forcing the state, municipalities, and counties to recognize and bargain collectively with unions representing police, firefighters, emergency medical responders, and others. Union officials refused to speak to Carolina Journal about the pending legislation. Neither the SEIU, which is affiliated with the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC), the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, nor the International Association of Firefighters responded to repeated requests for comment.