01/20/14 — County to talk about school funding

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County to talk about school funding

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 20, 2014 1:46 PM

An associate professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina School of Government will conduct a workshop Tuesday for Wayne County commissioners on the local funding of public schools.

The workshop had originally been on the board's Dec. 17 agenda, but was canceled because Kara A. Millonzi was unable to attend.

An agenda briefing will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday, followed by the regular board session at 9 a.m. Both will be held in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The work session is scheduled for 10-11 a.m.

Commission Chairman Wayne Aycock said several commissioners had seen presentations by Ms. Millonzi and had decided it would be a good idea to have her speak before the entire board.

"She is very knowledgeable about schools and that kind of thing in relationship to the county board," Commissioner Bill Pate said.

"I think it is going to beneficial for the county to listen to it and the school system to listen to it. I feel like it can put us on a better path to get something moving on their projects and how we are going to fund it," Aycock said.

In other business Tuesday, Sheriff Carey Winders will discuss grant funding for three deputies to serve as roaming resource officers for middle and elementary schools in the county.

Chris Barnes, security coordinator for Wayne County Public Schools, is scheduled to make a presentation on the grant from the state Department of Public Instruction. The funding will finance four officers -- three from the sheriff's office and one from the Goldsboro Police Department.

The grant will fund two-thirds ($163,587) of the annual cost of $245,380, and the schools will provide the remainder ($81,793).

While there is no guarantee, the grant is expected to continue for at least two years.

"It is anticipated that it will continue," Vice Chairman Ed Cromartie said. "But of course one of the main questions is if the grant is not reinstated after two years, what would happen to the deputies? That means someone, and that includes us, would have to step in and see if it is working fine. In my experience, the schools are happy the more resource officers that are available."

A decision would have to be made then whether or not to continue the funding with local revenues, he said.

"The parents are real concerned, and they are wanting the presence of more uniformed officers at the schools," Aycock said. "Parents feel real comfortable having resource officers. I haven't heard any of them complain. In fact, I have not heard the first word mentioned about what it costs to pay the officers."

Winders and other members of his department are also expected to talk about forming a Multi-Agency Driving While Impaired Task Force for the county. It would included three deputies, two Goldsboro police officers and one Mount Olive police officer.

A grant from the Governor's Highway Safety program would fund the project 100 percent during the first year, 85 percent the second year, 75 percent the third year and 50 percent the fourth year.

The fifth year would be funded entirely by the three agencies.

Also on the agenda:

* A public hearing on property rezoning will be held at 9:15 a.m.

C4 Development LLC has asked the county to rezone a 1.848-acre lot at the northeast intersection of U.S. 117 Alt. South and Outlaw Road at Dudley from Residential-Agriculture 20 to Community shopping.

The company is planning to build an 8,320-square-foot retail store. The land is owned by Arnold and Edythe Blanton. The county Planning Board is recommending approval.

* In a separate planning issue, commissioners will be asked to approve the final plat for the 17-lot Planters Ridge subdivision, Phase Three.

The subdivision, owned and developed by Edmondson Construction Co., is located on Planters Drive about 1,000 feet from Wayne Memorial Drive. The Planning Board is recommending approval.

* Also, commissioners will take up again the issue of paying for radio coverage of their meetings.

Barbara Arntsen, the county's public information officer, recommended to commissioners at their Jan. 7 meeting that the contract with WGBR not be renewed.

However, Pate and Commissioners Ray Mayo and Steve Keen argued that many people, particularly in the northern part of the county, depend on the radio coverage.

Commissioners tabled the issue until their Jan. 21 meeting to allow time for Ms. Arntsen to negotiate with WGBR station manager Bill Johnston.

County officials said Johnson is interested in broadcasting the meetings at the current cost of $425 per meeting. The cost is for air time only for the portion of the board's regular meeting between 9 a.m. and noon.

The previous contract expired at the end of November.

* Commissioners also will continue their discussion about how to utilize $576,923.08 the county has left in the North Carolina's Eastern Region Trust Fund. The county can borrow the money for economic development uses with a one percent ($5,769.23) fee and zero percent interest for five years.

If the money is not borrowed by June 30, the funds will be turned over to the state.

The town of Mount Olive has requested $200,000 of the money to cover its $150,000 match for $1.5 million in state funding for making improvements to the older part of the runway at the town airport.

As part of the work, the runway lighting will require improvements as well.

The board could consider a deadline of March 1 for requested uses for the funding.

Public comments are scheduled for 10 a.m. People will have four minutes to speak on their topic of choice.

Items on the consent agenda include destruction of certain Register of Deeds records, consideration of applications for the Present Use and Homestead Exclusion tax programs and declaring April 26 and Oct. 11 as amnesty days at the Wayne County landfill by waiving fees for residents only.