Deatherage: Bad decisions affect county services

Published 9:11 am Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Staff Writer

Incumbent County Commissioner Stan Deatherage believes a series of “wrong-headed” decisions by lawmakers in Washington and Raleigh is the top issue facing Beaufort County today.
“We are the closest elected officials to the people of this area,” he said in a recent interview. “We deal with almost every issue that comes out of these two governing centers. It’s up to us to rouse the political will against those policies.”
Deatherage, who is mounting his fifth campaign for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, is one of five Republican candidates vying in the May 4 primary to represent the GOP in the Nov. 2 election, when three seats on the county board are up for grabs.
He said that bad decisions in Washington and Raleigh affect the county’s ability to provide the essential services that local residents need.
“I feel compelled to not only streamline our system but also to do what I can to affect better policy decisions from these other governmental centers.”
When asked what county services, if any, need to be funded at a higher level when county leaders approve the budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Deatherage said, “In these economic times, none.”
“Because of many of the bad pieces of legislation that are emanating from Washington, D.C., we may be forced to fund mandated services such as Medicaid at a higher level,” he said.
This would result in “borrowing from other services or the raising of taxes to make it work.”
He also cited federal immigration policy as a drain on county funds.
“Since our federal government has refused to protect our borders, in Beaufort County we are spending nearly $2 million of our budget per annum providing services to and the education of illegal immigrants.”
Rather than looking for services that need additional funding, Deatherage said, he will be closely watching the county budget for areas to cut.
“I will be looking at this year’s budget with a very keen eye,” he said. “Hopefully, we can find some cost savings.”
“It is the county’s responsibility to provide essential services for its citizens,” he said. “Beyond that, there are discretionary items that are just that, discretionary, and certainly can be trimmed in a lean year.”
Deatherage said county leaders already have taken steps to foster economic growth in Beaufort County by establishing two industrial parks in the county — one on the western edge of Washington and the other just south of Chocowinity.
When asked what can be done to spur additional economic growth in the county, Deatherage said the key to that growth is making the county a desirable place to live.
County leaders can do this, he said, by streamlining government and making it more responsive to taxpayers and improving the local school system rather than offering costly incentives to industries to move to Beaufort County.
“Our economic-development team is extremely well-funded, and it has already been proven as a practice that throwing incentives at an industry is not a wise expenditure of tax dollars,” he said. “We need to act more responsibly as a governing body and a taxing authority.”