05/13/12 — County likely to get more lottery funding

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County likely to get more lottery funding

By From staff reports
Published in News on May 13, 2012 1:50 AM

Wayne County could receive an additional $200,000 in its state lottery proceeds should Gov. Bev. Perdue's budget proposal be approved by state lawmakers.

The proposal includes an appropriation of $116 million in funds from the North Carolina Education Lottery to counties for school construction, a 16-percent increase over what was appropriated to counties in the current budget.

Wayne County was allocated $1.339 million for the current fiscal year and would receive just over $1.5 million under the budget proposal.

Wayne County is using lottery proceeds to pay the principal on $15 million in federal Qualified School Construction Bonds, which are financing most of a $17,687,355 school construction project at Norwayne and Eastern Wayne middle schools.

The annual installment payment on the project will be $1,071,458. Local dollars will be used to pay the interest, which the federal government will reimburse annually.

"As one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, North Carolina is seeing a yearly increase in the number of students in our public school system," said David F. Thompson, executive director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. "The revenues from the education lottery, which now represent the only state support for public school construction, are helping counties throughout the state keep pace with this increased enrollment, either by building new schools or expanding and renovating existing facilities.

"County commissioners have reached out to Gov. Perdue and her staff in recent months to impress upon her the importance of these funds for counties. Like all North Carolinians, we look forward to when our economy is fully recovered and counties can again begin receiving their full statutory appropriation, which is 40 percent of lottery proceeds."

The budget proposal also includes a special provision that directs any excess lottery revenues for 2012-13 to county school construction needs. The current fiscal year includes a similar special provision, and counties are projected to receive an additional $24 million in lottery funds due to higher than anticipated lottery sales for 2011-12.

Protecting lottery funds for school construction was voted as one of counties' top legislative priorities for the 2011-13 biennium, Thompson said.