05/24/06 — Kerr seeks $4 million in state funding for Paramount

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Kerr seeks $4 million in state funding for Paramount

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 24, 2006 1:53 PM

No state money is available for the Paramount Theater reconstruction project -- even though a local legislator has asked to bring some of North Carolina's budget surplus home to Goldsboro.

Sen. John Kerr said he filed Senate Bill 1468 last week requesting $4 million to aid in the construction of a performing arts center in Goldsboro.

But due to "tough times," Kerr said, the legislature will avoid funding special projects and turn its focus to statewide programs that benefit more North Carolinians.

"All the so-called local interest bills won't be funded at this point," Kerr said. "Things might change, but I'm not very optimistic. For a long number of years, it was routine that some of these local projects got in. These are tough financial times."

Kerr made a similar request around budget time last year, $1 million for the Paramount, but said Wayne County can only get so much funding due to intense competition among cities and towns across the state.

"The Charlottes and all those places have it all," he said. "Every town you represent, they have 20 things they want. There's more than just Wayne County out there."

Still, Kerr added, the Paramount project is one worth fighting for. And that is why he has requested money at budget time the last two years.

"I think it's important that we build that thing back," he said. "I think the Paramount needs to be restored."

But the Senate came together and made it clear that few -- if any -- local projects would receive appropriations.

Now, Kerr added, bringing the Paramount back is up to Goldsboro officials and residents. And it would be a welcome sight, he said.

"We have got plenty of money in Goldsboro," he said. "We just need to shake it out."

Kerr represents Greene, Pitt and Wayne counties and has held seven terms in the state Senate. He said it is still possible that the House of Representatives will decide to fund local projects -- but he isn't counting on it.

"All I can do is give it my best shot," he said. "The fat lady hasn't sung yet. I guess anything is still possible at this point."