03/22/06 — City considers rejoining Council of Governments

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City considers rejoining Council of Governments

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 22, 2006 1:45 PM

Goldsboro officials were urged this week to rejoin a council of eastern North Carolina governments so that the city could get help with financing some capital projects.

Officials with the Eastern Carolina Council discussed methods available for the city to get grant money to help with projects such as rebuilding the Paramount Theater, creating a park along Stoney Creek and building a community center.

Estimates put the costs of the projects in the millions.

The city was once a member of the council, but withdrew.

ECC members Larry Moolenaar and Efton Sager urged the City Council to consider rejoining.

The function of the organization, they said, is to help local governments in planning, writing and securing funding for such projects from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

"We know you have a lot of capital projects going on, and we'd like to be a part of that. We can help you plug into EDA funds," Moolenaar said.

In the past, he said, Goldsboro utilized the services of the organization to help with other city projects. Before dropping its membership in the early 1990s, the city received more than $1.2 million in EDA funding for water and sewer infrastructure projects.

"Having dropped your membership, we feel like you've missed out on funding over the years," Moolenaar told Council members.

With potentially expensive projects on their agenda , now is the time for the Council to rejoin, he said, adding that membership would eliminate the need to hire a grant writer.

"We look for grants and opportunities for specific projects. We can provide that service to you for free," he said.

Membership in the ECC would cost the city $13,500 for 2006-2007. The fees fluctuate yearly based on the city's population.

Wayne County Commissioner Efton Sager said the membership fee is a small price to pay for the returns Goldsboro will see.

"Dues-wise, you'll get returns on your investment," Sager said.

In the time since Goldsboro withdrew its membership to the council, other municipalities in the area have benefited from the help of the ECC, Sager and Moolenaar pointed out. Kinston received more than $1 million for a small business incubator and Havelock $900,000 for a new visitor center.

City Manager Joe Huffman said he is looking into what the council of governments can offer Goldsboro. If the outlook is good, he said he would recommend to City Council members that they consider rejoining.

"If they can get us some significant funds for these projects, it would be great to be a member," he said.