03/07/06 — Commission takes concerns to Washington

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Commission takes concerns to Washington

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 7, 2006 2:04 PM

Members of the Wayne County Board of Commis-sioners left for the nation's capital Sunday to bring some of the concerns facing the county and eastern North Carolina to the attention of national lawmakers.

Commissioners said they plan to talk to congressional leaders and others in Washington, D.C., about everything from Medicare costs, school funding and the military to immigration policies.

County Manager Lee Smith said the three-day conference is a national version of the legislative conference held each year in Raleigh.

Commissioners J.D. Evans, Andy Anderson, Bud Gray and Chairman Atlas Price will meet with lawmakers. Commissioner John Bell was scheduled to go, but is not able to attend due to health reasons.

Price said the conference will include meetings and workshops with legislators along with seminars and lectures.

"It's a general opportunity to talk to legislators and let them talk back about what we can all do in the coming year," Price said.

Medicare is one of the issues the commissioners want to discuss.

"One thing that needs to be talked about is Medicare relief. It takes away money from other things the county could pay for," Price said.

Each year, Medicare costs take about $1 million out of the county budget, Smith said.

"That is $1 million a year out of funds for local community needs. Everyone suffers when part of our budget is out of our control," Price said.

Smith said the trip offers local leaders not only a chance to express their concerns but to hear what federal officials have to say about upcoming issues.

"The commissioners can talk to legislators, and it really pays off on its educational value," Smith said.

Evans said he plans to learn more about transportation, communications, immigration and budget cuts.

He said there is a better balance between local, state and federal governments when they share information.

"These are areas we need to be on top of so we won't be shocked when we come back home," Evans said. "This helps us with vision and planning concerning the movement of the county."