Counties concerned by potential for state cost-shifting

Posted February 17, 2011

— County officials across North Carolina expressed concern Thursday over Gov. Beverly Perdue's plan to balance the state budget by shifting some costs to the county level.

Perdue's budget proposal would have counties picking up about $200 million in expenses that the state has traditionally handled, such as paying worker's compensation premiums for teachers, buying new school buses and financial support for non-instructional school employees.

"This signals a fundamental shift in state responsibilities to county government," said Kevin Leonard, director of government relations for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Lawmakers have repeatedly assured the group the state budget wouldn't be balanced on the backs of local governments, Leonard said, and county officials statewide are alarmed that Perdue's plan would do that.

"The phones have started ringing already about the governor's budget proposal," he said. "We are just concerned at the trend that it shows that they are pushing things to the local level to fix the problems of the state."

In addition to the cost-shifting, Perdue's budget proposal calls for shifting proceeds from the North Carolina Education Lottery from debt service to pay off school construction projects to a college scholarship fund.

Leonard said the moves could force counties to raise their property tax rates to pay for the added expenses.

Money in hands Counties concerned by potential for state cost-shifting

"I think it's really unfair. I think it's unfortunate," said Michael Page, chairman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Page said he has already heard from people asking him not to increase their taxes again after commissioners raised them last year to help limit cuts to the Durham Public Schools' budget.

"We did that last year. We are going to have to be very reluctant about that," he said. "I'm really concerned because we really don't have the resources at this particular point (for the added expenses)."

Durham County resident Wayne McFarlane said he thinks a property tax increase might be inevitable.

"If it's across the board and everybody can take a little bit of the burden until we can move out of this, then I would say that's fair," McFarlane said.


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  • independentvoter3 Feb 18, 2011

    Well, it won't be long now... Can you hear that whooshing sound? You got it... the s--t is about to hit the fan and we're all gonna get some on our hands.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Feb 18, 2011

    Counties should be concerned. Pass the buck Bev is on a roll and the counties are next to get hammered with her buck passing, do nothing approach. Counties should've known they were toast when the best she could do was post an online game to solve the problems.

  • unc70 Feb 18, 2011

    mustainemad, if you are from NC and went to college in NC, the taxpayers of NC probably helped pay for your education. Even at private or church-affiliated schools -- unless you were studying for the ministry. Currently $1900/year/student.

    Most of the "blame" for the budget woes in NC is not on "illegal" aliens; it is from "legal" population growth that strains NC's ability to increase roads, schools, services, infrastructure.

    At the national level, wars longer than VN that profit a few military contractors, and various groups making huge profits from the suffering of nearly everyone else have become our new normal. Not Dem, not Repub, but Corporate parties by whatever names -- quite happy to keep us all fighting and blaming each other or some phantom menace, distracted from who really profits.

  • unc70 Feb 18, 2011

    mustainemad, if you are from NC and went to college in NC, the taxpayers of NC helped pay for your

  • whatelseisnew Feb 18, 2011

    Same old 3 card monty scam. The Feds pass along costs of programs that should not exist to the States. Then the States pass along programs that should not exist to the Counties. They have no one to pass it to except the Tax Slaves.

  • mustainemad Feb 18, 2011

    thewayitis, ABSOLUTELY!!! Local, state, and federal governments have taken away all personal responsibility from parents, children, and citizens of this country and others who illegally cross our borders. No one is responsible to work--unending unemployment checks and welfare takes care of that; educate their children, keep their children--we pay for the daycare & pre-k/hs programs, feed their children--free meals at school does that; NOW you want to send them to COLLEGE for free???!! My father worked his butt off to send me to school, and I worked to get the degree--we didn't get one dime, but paid taxes for everyone else. Instead of removing the pork in the state budget, she attacks the yellow buses that carry children to and from school each day--does she really think that's going to help??? I am just irate and so upset with myself that I believed this woman--yes, I voted for Bev, and have regretted it every day since.

  • davidbh61255 Feb 18, 2011

    Slum lords, drug dealers and county commissioners give used car salesmen a good name.

  • jammerdog Feb 18, 2011

    Oh well

  • davidbh61255 Feb 18, 2011

    Durham City and Co. really needs to get their spending under control. We have way too many non-profits.

  • mrcrosbys Feb 18, 2011

    27615--Increasing property taxes is especially unfair to those who can't afford to own property, because property owners pass all tax increases on to their renters by raising their rent payments. Then the renters in turn hit up the counties for welfare.

    Yeah right, like welfare just gives money to them whenever they say they need more. Time to cut off the illegals