Vance commissioners prioritize county issues

Sep. 02, 2014 @ 05:39 PM

While considering local issues to focus on in the new year, Vance County commissioners put high priority on income tax credits, economic development and child care.

The Vance County Board of Commissioners general government committee met Tuesday to discuss changes they wanted the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners to take to the General Assembly’s open session in January.

Out of six proposals, commissioners Archie Taylor and Tommy Hester said their highest priority was a request for the state to re-implement the earned income tax credit.

The program was established in 2007 to tackle high unemployment, family poverty and decreased wages for employees.

The Vance County Department of Social Services director Antonia Pedroza submitted the proposal and said approximately 1 million North Carolina families claimed the tax credit each year before it ended in December 2013.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill doing away with it earlier that year.

Commissioners also agreed with Vance County Economic Development director Stuart Litvin’s proposal, which asked for increased financial incentives in county economic development.

Litvin said this year the state eliminated an incentive program with more than $12,000 in tax credits for employers who brought businesses and jobs to lower-income counties such as Vance County.

“It was argued that it was never really successful in locating a company,” he said. “But it certainly did get employers on our radars.”

Litvin said counties with smaller budgets could benefit from better tax credit programs and start-up and demolition grants for potential employers.

The committee will also take to the full board a proposal to reverse recent changes in child care subsidy programs.

The program previously subsidized all families of four with an income up to about $50,000 needing childcare, covering 75 percent of the cost of childcare so parents of low-income families could work.

Pedroza said the program assists with day care costs for families with children 0 to 5 years old with income at about $47,000; families with children aged 6 to 12 with an income of $30,000; and families of special needs children — each income group covered on a sliding scale.

Pedroza wrote in her proposal 12,000 children no longer qualify for the program under these new standards.

“That is where we are most concerned,” Ayscue said. “Keeping people — what we call the working poor — keeping them employed if they have to make a choice between continuing to keep a job or quitting because they can’t afford childcare.”

Courtesy of the general government committee, the full board will also review:

• A proposal to restore state aid funding for public libraries. Perry Memorial Library director Patti McAnally submitted the request because the library’s state funding had been cut this year by 2 percent — more than $3,000. She said changes to the state’s distribution of the rest of the money could result in even more losses.

• Vance County tourism director Nancy Wilson’s proposal for the authority to seek loans for tourism development projects. She said no law outlines these privileges for tourism development authorities. Hester said some policies and procedures would also need to be established first.

• A request by resident Michael Bobbitt for the state to hold elected officers accountable for not paying property taxes.

The official list of items for legislative review will be considered for approval at the board meeting Monday and submitted to the state before its deadline of Sept. 19.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.