With the North
Carolina General Assembly reconvening for a short session on May 14, Wilmington
City Council spent time with local delegates on Friday, Feb. 14, to discuss
policy issues that will arise in the session. Film incentives, historic
preservation tax breaks, environmental regulation and public safety were among
the topics discussed amongst the two groups.
Bill Saffo began the breakfast meeting by asking NCGA delegates Ted Davis Jr.,
R-New Hanover, Rick Catlin, R-New Hanover, Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, and
Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover and Brunswick, to support the state’s film
incentive program in the coming short session.
can find some sort of vehicle to have this continue in our community … anything
you could do about it would be greatly appreciated,” Saffo said. “We don’t want
to lose business to places like Georgia and Louisiana.”
Catlin said finding money for film incentives would be a major issue with
Medicaid and education expenses potentially mounting.
“I recognize the
concerns but … we are going to look at extending these credits and also look at
trying to raise teacher pay,” Catlin said. “So we have to find the money for
that and I have been made aware that we will also be looking at maybe another
$400 million for Medicaid.”
Like the film
incentives, councilman Kevin O’Grady said another tax credit set to expire that
would especially hurt Wilmington and blue collar workers is the historic home
tax credit. Speaking from his experience in renovating his own home, O’Grady
said the tax credit has helped to transform Wilmington’s historic district.
“Years ago three
or four of the homes on that block were in significant disrepair,” O’Grady
said. “Today every house on our street, with one exception, has been remodeled
using of the tax credit.”
The merits of
the historic home tax credit are something dwarfed by discussions of the film
incentive program, said Representative Susi Hamilton, who added that it
deserves more recognition.
Another issue to
be brought up in the NCGA’s May short session is the ability of local
municipalities to pass environmental regulations that are more stringent than
state regulations. Catlin said the legislation passed last year that disallowed
more stringent regulations than the state’s was designed to be temporary and
that the issue would be revisited in May.
“We are studying
that now before the short session and we are receiving info from local
governments about its effects and whether or not there will be some unintended
consequences,” Catlin said. “So I need to hear how [the city] feels about
Police Chief Ralph Evangelous was also present at Friday’s meeting to present
the case for harsher punishments for felons caught carry concealed weapons.
With the current laws, Evangelous said his officers could not apply any jail
time to a first time offense for a felon caught illegally carrying a concealed
weapon. Evangelous said his department would like to see at least a year of
maximum jail time applied to those arrests to lower violent crime rates and
that the requested changes would have no impact on legal firearms.
said he would be willing to have the changes drafted into a bill for the short
session and Davis also said he would be willing to take up the bill.