Education a top priority for Belcher

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, November 1, 2012

Robert Belcher plans to parlay a career in education into creating more jobs in Beaufort County and giving students the tools to get those jobs. While Belcher believes the biggest issue facing the county is unemployment, as a life-long educator and a Board of Education member, he realizes that jobs and education go hand in hand.
“We need to be training students to find jobs that would pay a living wage,” said Belcher. “Not just a job, but a good job.”
Belcher looks forward to making education a priority when elected, and especially addressing how a lack of effort and funding on the part of the county has led to $1 million of state money slated for low-wealth counties being withdrawn from Beaufort County.
“That’s one of the first things I want to look at … I want the county manager, the superintendent, the commissioners, to sit down with the people in Raleigh and find out how much it will take to get that extra million,” Belcher said. “That’s another million dollars that would come into the county. I’d hate to leave a million dollars sitting on the table — wouldn’t you?”
When it comes to a new jail, Belcher is forthright: “Everybody knows we need a new jail,” but trying to fund it without raising taxes is the real issue at stake. He is concerned that if the Federal government is forced to become involved with the existing detention center, the county will no longer have control over what gets built or how much it’s going to cost. Belcher believes attracting new business to the county — business that would assume some of the tax burden — could help defray any resultant county tax hike.
“I think the whole thing would revolve around cost and what we could afford,” Belcher explained. “I don’t think the citizens of Beaufort County would look very kindly on getting another 3 1/2-cent tax on their property now.”