Roberson: Community service

Published 1:01 am Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bobby Roberson said service to the community is his reason for his decision to seek a second term on the Washington City Council.

Roberson, the top vote-getter in the 2009 election, is one of eight candidates seeking a seat on the five-member council. The council election is Nov. 8.

“I hope with my experience in the past, both in the public and private sectors, I can offer a good, rational approach to some of the problems we have in the city of Washington,” he said.

“Well, the first one continues to be an issue … and I don’t think it’s going to be something that’s going to go away in the next 10 years, and that’s the electrical rates we have,” he said.

Roberson talked about a related matter.

“I think we’ve done a great job in the past year by reducing the number of dollars we transfer (from the electric fund) into the general fund. We originally had it at $1.5 million. We’re down to $250,000, and I think that’s a step in the right direction,” he said.

Roberson said the reduction in the transfer from the electric fund to the general fund has resulted in the general fund being out of balance for four or five years, requiring the city to use fund-balance dollars to replace the decrease in electric-fund revenue going to the general fund.

“That’s a big issue. We’ve got to get the fund balance and the general fund squared away in terms of we’re spending too much money. We need to look toward problems and solving the general fund revenue, per se,” he said.

Roberson believes the city should look at making participation in the Washington Electric Utilities’ load-management program mandatory for its customers. Those who choose not to participate would be charged higher rates because they are not helping the city and load-management participants decrease their power costs, he said.

The load-management program helps reduce power usage during peak-demand times, thereby reducing power costs.

Roberson said the city must address a trend of declining revenue in the general fund, which pays for the city’s daily operation.

“This if the fourth or fifth year in a row in which the general fund is showing a loss of revenue,” he said. “I think, as elected officials, we are required to balance the budget. I think we’ve got to take a serious look at the overall scope of the general fund and look at the revenue stream to be sure we are on track.”

Roberson wants the city to revisit the issue of dealing with floodwaters in the Jack’s Creek basin.

“I think we’ve got to do a better job about examining the flooding issue along Jack’s Creek,” he said.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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