Below are the legislative priorities that the Board of Commissioners has approved to advocate for in the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions of the N.C. General Assembly and U.S. Congress.
Identification of a recurring source of funding of at least $25 million annually to the beach nourishment fund created by the General Assembly in 2018 to support ongoing coastal storm damage reduction (CSDR) projects. New Hanover County and other coastal communities can best plan and prioritize local budget needs with dedicated, annual allocations of state support those communities can use for planning, current projects, or future projects. The board further finds that protecting coastal infrastructure provides a benefit to the entire state of North Carolina, as public or private interests from nearly every North Carolina county own coastal property. The board further supports continued federal and state funding of congressionally approved CSDR projects for Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge
Commitment of necessary federal and state resources to fund the replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The bridge was built in 1969 and its age and ongoing maintenance expenses are inadequate to meet future growth.
Standards for PFOA and PFOS
State and federal governments establishing formal standards for perfluorinated chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) and establishing and enforcing health advisory standards for emerging contaminants to ensure drinking water quality. The board further supports legislation or action to hold polluters financially responsible for cleanup and remediation of these chemicals in drinking water and supports a state appropriation to complete the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority raw water transmission line
Support After Disasters
Administrative and legislative changes to federal agencies and regulations, including but not limited to, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Administration (HUD), that would accelerate the flow of aid to local governments to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies. The board finds that timely disbursement of federal aid would accelerate the recovery process, provide rapid stabilization, and bolster future resiliency.
Film Grant Program
Recurring and increased funding for the state’s film grant program to continue attracting film projects that move rapidly and consider numerous locations for productions. The film industry supports nearly 1,000 local jobs and is a significant contributor to the county’s economy. The board further encourages legislative efforts and opportunities to improve or expand the program
A statewide school capital commitment of no less than $2 billion at the earliest possible time in accordance with state statutes. New Hanover County and its school system have identified more than $400 million of school construction and maintenance needs over the next several years. The taxpayers of the county are best served if the state authorizes a statewide school capital commitment with a fair share allocated to New Hanover County schools to aid in its real and pronounced school construction needs.
State returning to the original Education Lottery formula that set aside 40 percent for capital needs. The state currently caps the amount of lottery funds that go toward the Public School Building Capital Fund at $100 million annually. Returning to the originally conceived formula would net almost $400 million for critical school infrastructure needs.
Increase in state funding to provide equitable salary increases to recruit and retain all instructional and support staff at community college, including Cape Fear Community College.
Federally supported expansion of Medicaid to insure those not eligible for subsidies through the federal healthcare exchange. As many as 16,000 uninsured New Hanover County residents could receive health coverage through Medicaid expansion. The board finds that Medicaid expansion would lead to fair, equitable and cost-effective health care services for those whose employers do not provide health insurance
Mental Health and Substance Use
Increased federal and state funding to address mental health and substance use disorder support and treatment.
Drug Treatment Court
Reinstating the state’s financial support for drug treatment courts. The county has operated a drug treatment court successfully since the state withdrew funding for treatment courts in 2011 by fully funding, at an expense of more than $1.5 million since 2011, and staffing a drug treatment and DWI court for county residents. Treatment courts are an extension of the judicial system, and the state has the primary duty to fund the court system and its associated services.
Fair and equitable funding through the N.C. Department of Transportation for infrastructure to support New Hanover County’s transportation needs as the county continues to rapidly grow. The board finds that appropriate DOT support and developing additional and alternative revenue sources beyond fuel taxes, will help provide the necessary infrastructure to accommodate an increasing population and address the board’s priorities to encourage an increased stock of affordable and workplace housing.