July 26, 2013
State budget is on its way to the governor
By SANDY SEMANS ROSS
Wednesday, July 23, the North Carolina House and Senate both approved
of recent changes in tax laws, reserve balances will drop $86.6 million
in the current budget ending June 30, 2014 and by $437.8 million in the
following fiscal year.
The $20.6 billon budget has some good news for the Outer Banks but also some not so welcome changes.
in the cost of commercial and recreational fishing licenses found their
way into the bill but the largest increase targets piers.
owners have been paying 50 cents per linear foot for the privilege of
operating a business that caters to fishermen. The license includes a
provision that provides a “blanket license” which allows fishermen to
fish without obtaining individual licenses. That fee is being increased
to $4.50 per foot.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry dodged
the bullet on being tolled for at least the immediate future. That
ferry route is the only free access to Ocracoke Island. The Department
of Transportation can later place a tax on the route if the local
transportation planning advisory committee approves a resolution
supporting such action.
Recreational fishing tournament
organizers now will be allowed to sell the tournaments’ catches to
licensed fish dealers. Any revenues must be given to charitable or
Changes to the unemployment insurance law also are reflected in the budget.
budget reduces Unemployment Insurance Reserve from $23.8 million in the
current fiscal year to $13.6 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year. The
reduction is due in part to unemployment insurance benefits being cut
July 1. A budget change made in the appropriations technical
corrections bill released Friday, drops a $10 million appropriation
into the fund and replaces it with any unspent appropriations available
from the Department of Commerce and the Office of State Controller at
the end of the current fiscal year.
“I can’t imagine that this
will be good for small businesses,” said Dare County Commissioner Allen
Burrus. “If we are not going to be tied to the federal pool, it will
make it harder to fund. Why would be doing that? It will mean that
small businesses may have to pay more.”
The change reduces the
benefit and caps the amount from a high of $535 to $350 and reduces the
maximum number of weeks from 26 to, in some cases, 12. North Carolina
has one of the largest unemployment rates in the country, and Dare and
Hyde counties’ winter unemployment rates are customarily in double
digits due to the seasonal nature of the area.
Industrial Seafood Park on Roanoke Island will receive funding in the
current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2014 but will be on its own
after that with no funding included for the 2014-15 fiscal year when
the industrial park is expected to be self-supporting.
Roanoke Island, the Roanoke Island Commission will receive $450,000 in
funding to use for the support of Festival Park. No funding is included
in the next fiscal year.
The budget appropriates $1 million to
offset costs of complying with the new proposed elections laws aimed at
reducing the amount of time allotted for early voting, mandating paper
ballots, requiring a photo identification, eliminating same-day
registration and voting, reducing the hours for Saturday voting, and a
long list of other changes.
Dare County Board of Commissioners
Chairman Warren Judge said that the financial impact of the election
laws changes is now under scrutiny and that an estimate might be
available next week.
Education at all levels is being funded at
a rate reduced from previous years. According to the North Carolina
Educators Association, the cuts for grades K-12 will reduce the number
of teachers by approximately 5,200, eliminate 3,850 teaching
assistants, and drop almost 300 support staff.
appropriations technical corrections bill filed on Friday, transfers an
additional $2 million from the Department of Public Instruction to the
Governor’s Office to fund the North Carolina Workforce and Innovation
Commission for the current fiscal year; $200,000 of that amount is
noted as being for technical and administrative assistance, including
staff for the commission and for commission reimbursements and expenses.
addition to other cuts, the university system will lose $32.14 million
in 2013-14 and $52.7 million in 2014-15 for university institutional
The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of
Teaching campus on Ocracoke was funded for this fiscal year, but
nothing is included for the center in the budget for 2014-2015.
Although not part of the budget, a separate tax reform bill removes an exemption for paying sales tax that benefits members of the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative. If the minds of lawmakers can't be changed, CHEC members will begin paying 6.75 percent sales tax on their electric bills, beginning on July 1, 2014.
class of some misdemeanors will be changed to avoid providing indigent
defense. This will reduce the budget by $4 million in the 2014-15.
budget is being enacted in the same year as a major overhaul of the
state’s tax code which is expected to result in less revenues going
into state coffers. The General Assembly will meet again in May 2014
and if necessary, can at that time change the budget for the 2014-15