Baldwin: Budget cuts in Beaufort County’s future

Published 9:52 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

Staff Writer

Cindy Baldwin forecasts budget cuts as Beaufort County struggles to recover from the Great Recession.
Baldwin is one of five Republicans seeking her party’s nomination to run for three available seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
Asked which, if any, county services need to be funded at a higher level, the Bath resident said, “Right now I would say none due to the budget.”
That reply prompted a subsequent question about which services she contends could be funded at a lower level.
“I think what’s going to happen is everybody’s going to get cut at a certain percentage,” Baldwin replied. “I don’t think one’s going to take a particular hit over another. I think everybody’s going to have to make a sacrifice until the county starts regaining some of its income.”
Asked to identify the No. 1 issue facing the county, Baldwin cited unemployment.
“I’d like to provide an environment that’s conducive to helping small businesses,” she continued. “I would cut their taxes, ensure that no more regulations come upon them. I’d like to actually find some incentive to perhaps offer some money to businesses to help them train people that have been out of work for over a year.”
Baldwin soon clarified that, when she mentioned taxes, her target was property taxes. (The county is empowered to tax property, not personal income.)
“Property taxes is a horrible one,” she said. “I wish there was a better way to cut taxes. The only thing that I could really handle would be property tax at a county level.”
In another subsequent query, Baldwin was asked how she, as a commissioner, would advocate for less-restrictive regulations affecting businesses.
“I do think that regulations are necessary for the overall good of the people,” she said.
She added that one of the things she’s concerned about is ensuring that construction and development are completed in a timely manner.
Baldwin said she would like to usher in a process whereby any project could cycle through permit approval in 180 days.
“Also, the regulations have to be applied fairly to everyone,” she said. “There can’t be any back-room deals.”
Commenting on what steps can be taken to spur economic growth in the county, Baldwin called the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission “necessary.”
“It’s unfortunate that we do have to offer tax incentives to companies to move here, but the bottom line is it does come down to numbers,” she said.
She asserted that she’d like to help bring in businesses that would be viable and sustainable, but she would like to help existing businesses as well.
“It’s unfair to help the businesses coming in here without helping the businesses that are already here,” Baldwin stated.
One obstacle to business growth is that banks aren’t lending at the usual clip, she said.
Baldwin said Gov. Beverly Perdue is doing a good job of urging banks to start lending again.
“I think we should support her in that effort to get the banks lending again,” she said.
Baldwin said she is qualified to hold the office she’s seeking partly because she and her husband, John, have been small-businesses owners for the past 17 years.
Baldwin said she managed a $15 million budget at the peak of her and her husband’s business.
Cindy Baldwin
Age: 52.
Address: 115 N. Main St., Bath.
Occupation: Business counselor with East Carolina University.
Education: Bachelor-of-science degree in communications from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Immediate family: Husband, John.
How long a resident of Beaufort County: Has lived in Beaufort County for two years.
Experience as an elected official: None.
Other relevant experience: Has become familiar with permitting processes as a developer in Bath, has been a small-business owner for the past 17 years .
Last book read: “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” by Mitt Romney.