Harrell: Taxes are the top issue facing county

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Staff Writer

Taxes are the No. 1 issue facing Beaufort County, said Republican commissioner candidate Buddy Harrell.
“Taxes, and like I say, the minute I get in office somebody’s going to tell me what to do and how to do it,” the Edward resident said. “But I think taxes is the main thing that we need to look at, and jobs and industry for the county. The county can’t keep surviving on upping the taxes and driving industry away from here.”
In commenting on property taxes, Harrell was referring in part to his answer to an earlier question.
Asked whether he had prior experience as an elected official, Harrell replied, “None whatsoever.”
“I don’t think I need it because the minute I get in office somebody’s going to tell me what to do and how to do it,” he said.
Harrell is one of five Republicans seeking his party’s nomination to run for three available seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
Harrell said he couldn’t think of any county services that should be funded at a higher level.
“It seems like everybody is cutting except the federal government,” he stated.
Speaking of county government, he added that “the welfare department and the county school system” could be funded at lower levels, a reference to the Beaufort County Department of Social Services and Beaufort County Schools.
Harrell was unsure what could be done to spur economic growth in the county.
“That’s a loaded question right now,” he said. “I’m not going to make any complaints until at a later time, when I’m in a position to do something about it.”
That prompted a subsequent question regarding whether the candidate was satisfied with the current scope of economic development in the county.
“I certainly am not,” he said. “For one thing, we have a problem with the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and this so-called water situation in the county. The (Pamlico-) Tar River Foundation — that’s another name for EPA, another limb of the EPA. They have a stranglehold on permitting any industry to move into the area.”
(The EPA is a federal entity. Local environmental permitting is generally handled by divisions within the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Pamlico-Tar River Foundation is a private nonprofit group that advocates for water-quality measures, among other things.)
Harrell said he didn’t know what could be done to alleviate permitting stress.
“I will certainly find out if I’m elected,” he said.
He also offered his thoughts on water-supply issues.
“I think water is going to be one of the biggest problems for the future, not just for Beaufort County but the entire world,” he said. “And this is going to be one of the main problems that we’re going to have in the future is to get enough drinkable water. Right now we’re paying through the nose for water. Who’d have ever thought you’d have to pay a dollar for a little bottle of water just 10 years ago?”
He said there may be something the commissioners can do to promote water conservation or hold down the costs of providing water.
“That’s something we’ll have to take up as a group,” Harrell concluded.