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ROSE: RURAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN FAIR MONEY HELPS DEVELOP SEWER, WATER SYSTEMS

ROSE: RURAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN FAIR MONEY HELPS DEVELOP SEWER, WATER SYSTEMS

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North Carolina would be treated fairly under a new rural development plan, even if the state doesn't get all the extra money it has received under the current system, U.S. Rep. Charlie Rose says.

The plan authorizes use of $90 million of about $800 million that had been previously appropriated. The bill would let communities decide whether to use that $90 million for water and sewer projects or community facilities.The legislation was approved 360-45 by the House Thursday and sent to a conference committee to work out differences with the Senate version.

Rose, D-N.C., wanted to keep the current system in place. But lawmakers on both sides of the issue ``were begging me to work out a compromise,' he said.

Critics said North Carolina and a handful of other states have been getting more than their fair share because they receive leftover money that many states are unable to use.

The new House bill would make it easier for all states to use their full allotments of rural development money by shifting it from one category to another.

But Rose still has a complaint: He said the 16-member panels each state would create to determine how the money is spent will be heavily influenced by governors.

The members, who will come from various associations and interest groups, ``will have political considerations that are bound to creep into the decision-making process,' he said.

The panel members would include one representative each from a state's governor's office, rural development agency, banking agencies, telephone and electric cooperatives and health-care agencies.

Congress is fighting about allocation of rural development money because the total pool isn't growing. The money goes to poor, rural communities to help develop water and sewer systems, build fire stations and town halls, and attract industries.

The money is allocated to states based on their number of impoverished rural residents. States that can't use their full allocation return their unused portions.

North Carolina and a few other states have been snaring the unused money from other states. Last year, for example, North Carolina was allocated $15.2 million in water and sewer development money, but it received twice that amount.

Georgia, meanwhile, was allocated $10.9 million but received only $3 million.

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