by David Anderson
Kinston Free Press
Acting on the advice of their attorney, members of the Kinston City Council voted this week to spend up to $15,000 on a lobbyist to advance their cause in Raleigh.
The council later earmarked another $12,500 to help pay for a lawyer to battle high electric rates.
As for the lobbyist, the city’s attorney said it was important for Kinston to have someone in Raleigh advocating for the city.
“There are now two purely local bills pending in the legislature affecting city operations, and neither of them was requested by a majority of this council,” City Attorney Jim Cauley said.
Cauley referred to House Bill 5, which, if approved, would halt the city’s current annexation proceedings, and House Bill 310, which would put to voters the question of giving the Kinston mayor veto power.
He said a lobbyist could be hired for about $15,000, and sought council approval to make the hire.
“We have not been up there to make our presence known. … It concerns me that it’s just been the city of Kinston that’s been picked at,” said Councilwoman Alice Tingle.
Tingle motioned to approve Cauley’s recommendation, and asked to have the lobbyist’s scope of work include a defense regarding the mayor’s veto bill.
“Why do you want the veto?” she asked Mayor B.J. Murphy.
Murphy responded: “I believe the citizens should be the ones to make that decision.”
The council voted 4-1 to spend $15,000, which City Manager Scott Stevens said would most likely come from the city’s general fund. Councilman Will Barker opposed.