“I think it’s important for the town of Chapel Hill to voice its interests,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said.
He said passing this legislation would stretch tax dollars and allow the town to use these properties for economic development.
Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones said the two biggest issues for both governing bodies would be allocating money for fire protection of state properties and securing funding for urban search and rescue teams.
Jones said money for fire protection has recently been reduced, and the current budget isn’t sufficient.
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison said securing tax money for the fire budget is crucial for the protection of University buildings and other state properties.
Jones also addressed the issue of funding state-established urban search and rescue teams.
North Carolina previously paid for the management of highly equipped teams that conduct missions under extreme conditions like natural disasters or bombings — but that funding has since been cut.
Council members and representatives agreed that this issue needs bipartisan support in Congress, so the burden of paying for the teams doesn’t fall to local government.
“Statewide bills need a Republican’s support,” said N.C. Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham).
“If a Republican is not the first name on a bill its probably (dead on arrival).”
In spite of legislative challenges ahead, Kleinschmidt emphasized the positive aspects of the state’s political atmosphere — which he says is different than it has ever been before.
“We are in a North Carolina that none of us have seen in our lifetimes,” Kleinschmidt said.
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