The Greenville City Council has unanimously approved a resolution in support of a vetoed state budget plan that promises more than $220 million in local investments.
The resolution encourages all state legislators to support the Republican plan, which Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed in June. Councilman William Litchfield introduced the resolution as a last-minute addition to the council’s Thursday meeting.
“There’s a number of different investments in Pitt County that are part of this budget, close to $220 million in investment in the county, which I think is important,” Litchfield said.
The investments include $215 million for a new Brody School of Medicine facility, $850,000 for East Carolina University’s statewide telepsychiatry program, $1 million to Eastern Area Health Education Center, $2.5 million for a food commercialization center in Ayden and $150,000 for improvements to Bethel’s water treatment facilities.
"I think it’s our intent with passing this resolution is to show how important it is for all legislators to work toward a budget that will improve eastern North Carolina and create the investment that is needed here,” Litchfield said.
The resolution states “The City of Greenville strongly encourages all members of the General Assembly to act in accordance with the needs of the State and support the eastern region of North Carolina by taking measures to ensure these important programs for the institutions and communities that they will so clearly benefit.”
The $24 billion budget was pass largely along party lines. Cooper vetoed it in part because it didn’t include a provision to expand Medicaid. The House voted to override the veto on Sept. 11 when many Democrats were absent. Pitt County Rep. Kandie Smith, a Democrat, voted against the override, while the county’s Republican Rep. Chris Humphrey voted for the override.
The Senate has not taken an override vote because it needs one Democrat to vote for the override and none of the four Democrats who voted for the original budget, including Pitt County’s Sen. Don Davis, are willing to vote for the override. Davis said a larger pay raise for teachers must be included.
Litchfield said he doesn’t know what additional actions legislative leaders may take on the budget. The full General Assembly is not scheduled to meet again until April 28.
“We’ve always had to fight a little bit harder for things for people in eastern North Carolina," Litchfield said. "This budget does provide wonderful investment in our community, not just in Greenville, but in Bethel … in Ayden. Those are the important things for jobs in our community, economic development in our community. Our legislators need to get together and find a way forward.”
Litchfield’s resolution makes no mention of Medicaid expansion.
“This resolution is not saying (Medicaid) is not important because it is,” Litchfield said. “But this is on the table, it’s part of the budget and it’s really important to us.”
Litchfield said people should not view the resolution as a political action but a call to focus attention on the money and investment in the community.
“I think we can all agree how important these things are to Greenville and the region as well,” Mayor P.J. Connelly said. He said his youngest daughter recently had the flu and he took her to a night clinic held at medical school. The building is old but the care she received was outstanding, he said.
Thursday’s meeting started with several speakers asking the council to investigate police actions at Tuesday’s basketball game between J.H. Rose and South Central high schools.
They said a student, who at least two speakers identified as a basketball player, was arrested in the gym, in front of the audience, and escorted from the building.
The speakers wanted to know what the department’s policy is for arresting minors. They questioned why the officers didn’t work with the coach or teachers to get the young man out of the gym.
Brandon Dawson said while the young man has to be held accountable for his actions, it wasn’t the police officers job to embarrass the young man. Pastor Barry K. Berryhill with Phillipi Missionary Baptist Church in Simpson said as a former military police officer he is pro law enforcement. However, officers could have arrested the young man earlier in the day because players have to be in school on game day.
Councilman Monica Daniels thanked the speakers.
“One thing this young man will know is people took time to come and fight for him,” Daniels said.
After the public comment period, the council held a series of public hearings on the following. Each action was unanimously approved:
- Annexing nearly 24.5 acres owned by 4JPII, located along East 14th Street adjacent to Planter's Walk Subdivision and Quail Ridge Townhomes.
- Annexing Davenport Farms at Emerald Park Phase 4; 6.6125 acres located off Davenport Farm Road in the Emerald Park Subdivision at the current terminus of Zircon Drive.
- Annexing nearly 8 acres on the northern side of East Fire Tower Road, between Charles Boulevard and East 14th Street. It’s called the Bobby W. Joyner property.
- Annexing Taberna Phase 4; nearly 14 acres located on the western side of Frog Level Road just north of the intersection of Davenport Farm Road.
- Rezoning 2.5 acres located at Sara Lane off of Evans Street from residential (medium density) to residential (high density multi-family).
- Rezoning 7,917 square feet located at 4020 Laurel Ridge Drive from office to residential (medium density multi-family).
- Rezoning 4 acres located at the termini of Morton Lane and Gordon Drive from residential (medium density single-family) to residential (high density multi-family).
- Rezoning 2.2 acres located at 3180 Charles Boulevard from residential-agricultural to office-residential office-residential (high density multi-family).
- Three separate resolutions to close portions of Bonners Lane, South Alley Street and Atlantic Avenue. The closures are being sought in connection with the development of a boutique hotel along Dickinson Avenue.
- A development agreement between the city and Seacoast Communities related to the purchase of the Imperial Tobacco Warehouse property for the development of a boutique hotel and market-rate apartments.
- A $500,000 job creation grant for Grover Gaming. The company, which produces software for lotteries and charitable gaming jurisdictions, plans to add 100 jobs to its roster in the next two years. The grant requires the company to retain the new positions for three years, City Manager Ann Wall said. The grant will be given as $1,000 per job for five years, she said.
The council also unanimously approved a request of Sidewalk Greenville, the owner of University Edge and Dickinson Lofts, to reduce the amount of office/retail space in the building located at Reade Circle and Dickinson Avenue from 20,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet so 13 more one-bedroom, market-rate efficiency apartments can be added.