Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bridge Gap funding removed from NC budget for Mid Currituck Bridge.

From the Raleigh News &Observer.  I suspect the public money for the Mid-Currituck Bridge could be in grave danger...even before the sideshow began.  I'd say all options including forgery were exhausted.

By Bruce Siceloff and J. Andrew Curliss The News and Observer

RALEIGH -- The Senate Rules Committee chairman launched an investigation today into what he called “fraudulent” letters sent to legislators last week that appeared to reverse the state Department of Transportation’s position on the need for $63 million in start-up money for two toll projects.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said DOT officials would be asked to speak at a rules committee hearing Wednesday morning, and representatives of Gov. Bev Perdue’s office would be asked to speak at a second hearing Thursday morning.

The letters were drafted last Thursday morning by Perdue staffers on DOT stationery and over the signature of Jim Trogdon, DOT’s chief operating officer, and appeared to contradict a recommendation Trogdon had made in a June 8 memo to legislative leaders.

Trogdon had said June 8 that DOT would not be ready before fiscal year 2014 to spend proposed “gap” funds for the planned Mid-Currituck Bridge in Currituck County and the Garden Parkway in Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, so he recommended that the legislature find other uses for that money in the budget for 2013. Thursday’s letters to two legislators interested in the projects included a line inserted by Perdue staffers Pryor Gibson and Kevin McLaughlin that said the “funds are needed in this budget cycle.”

Trogdon disavowed and retracted the letters Thursday afternoon and told legislators they had been sent and signed without his consent. By then, the false letters had been cited in floor debate over an unsuccessful amendment to restore the toll road funding to the budget.

“Those simple facts in my mind warrant this committee’s inquiry into the integrity of information provided to the Senate as it goes about its business,” Apodaca said this morning. “This is simply an inquiry. We will go where the facts lead us.”

He went out of his way to absolve Trogdon, a major general in the N.C. National Guard, of any wrongdoing.

“This should not be seen as a reflection on any particular DOT official,” Apodaca said. “Specifically, Gen. Jim Trogdon is one of the finest public servants we have in this state. In conducting this inquiry we in no way question the integrity of Jim Trogdon.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/19/2146776/senate-will-probe-fraudulent-dot.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Read my lips....

Currituck county approved a budget that keeps property taxes at the same $0.32 level it has been for the last 8 years. Kudos. Below is the details for the Daily Advance's Cindy Beamon: Currituck board OKs $65M spending plan By Cindy Beamon The Daily Advance Tuesday, June 5, 2012 CURRITUCK — The Currituck Board of Commissioners approved a $65 million budget Monday that cuts county spending by 9 percent without raising property taxes. Under the county’s spending plan for 2012-13, the property tax rate will remain where it’s been for the past eight years: 32 cents per $100 valuation. According to county officials, that 32-cents tax rate is now the six-lowest in the state. It also means that for a homeowner with a $200,000 home, his tax bill of $640 won’t change. The budget offers the county’s 363 employees their first raise in several years. Under the spending plan, employees will get a 2-percent cost of living adjustment. Fees countywide will remain the same, except for three sewer districts. Newtown Road Sewer District’s flat fee will rise from $26 to $32 a month. Costs for wastewater services in Moyock Commons will actually go down in next year’s budget. The district tax rate will decrease from 24 cents to 20 cents per $100 valuation. In addition, the wastewater utilization rate will decrease from four times the water bill to 3.5 times the water bill. Wastewater fees at Walnut Island will be based on water usage. The budget includes several capital projects, including the county’s first-ever mosquito spraying service. Other projects include the Aviation Technical Training Center and multi-use fields at Currituck Community Center, new tennis courts at Currituck High School, a new rodeo arena at the Rural Center and the architectural design for a new animal shelter. The spending plan also contributes to a major update of Currituck’s central communications system. The county began upgrading towers and buying new equipment last year for the 800 megahertz system. The budget includes a $10.6 million tourism budget, supported mostly with occupancy taxes, the tax on room stays and cottage rentals. About $4.3 million of occupancy tax revenues will go to tourism promotion and $6.3 million toward tourism-related expenses. The $47 million general fund is the largest of 25 separate budgets that make up the county’s operating budget. About 38 percent of the general fund budget goes toward public safety, which comprises more than half of the county’s work force. Another 22 percent goes toward education. This year, the county expects to contribute $9 million to the school system, almost $5.9 million for Emergency Management Services and another $5.6 million for the sheriff’s department.