Local leaders outline their priorities for New Year
With new faces in county government and the possibility of new faces in city government, local leaders are looking toward a busy 2013.
“I would say, in 2013 some of our priorities will be customer service, street resurfacing and continuing our redevelopment efforts,” Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said Monday, in the waning hours of 2012.
The 2012 elections left the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners with a new chairman and vice chairwoman in Commissioners Reuben Davis and Jackie Brown, respectively.
They also have a new face in freshman Commissioner Craig Hill and the still-to-be-determined replacement for long-serving Commissioners’ Chairman George Graham — the local Democratic Party has nominated Roland Best for the seat, but the commissioners will have the final say.
“I know both of those folks are committed to serving the citizens, and I think they’ll fit in very nicely and I think we’ll work together very well,” Commissioner Linda Rouse Sutton said of Best and Hill.
She said the commissioners would “miss George (Graham)’s leadership,” but bringing in new people can bring in new ideas and new perspectives.
Sutton expected the commissioners’ main priorities in 2013 would be balancing the budget and not raising taxes.
“We’re determined to come out with a good balanced budget and not raise taxes, and hang on to as many services as possible, as closely as we can,” she said.
On the city of Kinston’s side, the mayor’s and two City Council seats will be up for election this year.
In 2013, city elections will be nonpartisan, meaning candidates will run without a political party label.
“I am looking forward to the wishes of the people being carried out in the form of nonpartisan elections,” said Murphy, who was a strong supporter of nonpartisan voting.
The mayor said he hoped the council would continue to work toward building up $500,000 in the budget for street repairs and resurfacing.
Murphy acknowledged it was a challenging goal to meet in times of lean budgets, “but continuing to make that progress toward that goal is important.”
The mayor also expected the city’s policy of “proactive policing” would continue due to the success of removing major criminals from the streets in 2012.
He also saw as a priority continuing to follow the relationship between Duke Energy, which completed its merger with Progress Energy in 2012, and public power communities in North Carolina.
Kinston is among the 32 member communities of the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency, which owns power plants along with Duke Energy. The “generation assets” owned by the cities provide power to the member communities, which took on billions in debt 30 years ago to buy into those assets.
“Selling the generation assets, I think, should be part of our discussion in coordination with how to handle our debt load,” Murphy said.
David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 orDavid.Anderson@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at DavidFreePress.
County priorities in 2013:
– Balance the budget
– No tax increase
– Maintain services
Source: Commissioner Linda Rouse Sutton
City priorities in 2013:
– Improved customer service
– Street resurfacing
– Continued redevelopment
– ‘Proactive policing’
– Monitor relationship between Duke Energy and NCEMPA/ElectriCities
Source: Mayor B.J. Murphy