At the most recent Craven County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Jacqueline Wu who is with the US Small Business Administration made a presentation on SBA assistance for disaster relief in situations such as our recent hurricane. It was not surprising that many on the Board voiced support for the SBA assistance, but it did surprise me when Commissioner Steve Tyson, a real estate broker, asked if the SBA had a program that would help developers finance building construction for investment as commercial bank rates had soared lately. Ms. Wu could not immediately answer the question, but Commissioner Scott Dacey, who stated that he used to work for that agency, did. Commissioner Dacey said that SBA did not have such a program.
It occurred to me that so many people are willing to seek taxpayer funding for their own needs and wants. Hence the continued growth in government.
Another big surprise came when the Health Director, Scott Harrelson, asked for authorization to accept a federal grant to add behavioral health (mental health) to the authorized heath services provided by the county. He asked permission to accept $285,000 to hire 2 new employees for the Health Department. Commissioner Dacey objected to his request, saying Harrelson had not requested authorization from the Board of Commissioners to apply for the grant, and it was the first he had heard of it, thus not giving him any time to look into it. Commissioner Dacey stated that this addition of mental health services would duplicate service already provided by Trillium who contracts with private medical providers, and thus the county would be in competition with those private practitioners.
Commissioner Tyson asked if the grant was a one time grant to start the program, or would it be renewed annually. Mr. Harrelson said that the annual grant would be reduced to about $60,000.
At this point, one of the commissioners asked if the decision had to be made right then. Mr. Harrelson said that the county had 120 days from the time the grant was approved to either accept it or reject it, but that a delay would cramp his plans to implement the program. Commissioner Jones then made a motion to delay the decision until the new Board was seated in December. That motion passed.
We will now have to wait until Commissioners (Elect) E.T. Mitchell and Denny Bucher are seated for this to be resolved. I hope they have the good sense to reject this expansion of government.
A new Public Defender’s office will open in part of the unused judicial facilities at Clarks. It will be staffed by 8 new state employees. Oh joy; government is growing yet again! Do you sometimes get the feeling that boards of commissioners meet for the express purpose of growing government and digging deeper into taxpayers pockets?
The animal control office will expand by 2 new employees to 9 full time and 2 part time employees. This facility has been expanded greatly in size and number of employees in response to citizens’ concern for treatment of animals in recent months.
Hal James, Chairman, CCTA and CCTA’s Watchdog Committee
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