Eastern Carolina Council, Part 3 — A year ago, COVID-19 cash flowed freely

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Eastern Carolina Council got its share!

 

The original sales pitch to Uncle Sam (summarized here in an ECC slide dated June 30, 2021) used a title full of ‘buzzwords’

The ECC’s actual use of the $400,000 (from same slide presentation) is more mundane with no mention of COVID-19 relief.

News Commentary

NEW BERN – The Eastern Carolina Council is a quasi-governmental agency, charged by North Carolina to look out for smallish, rural counties and municipalities that may lack the staff and resources to adequately perform all of the unfunded mandates thrown at them by the General Assembly.

So back in July of 2020 – when the federal government was dishing out money to any person or entity with a pulse – give credit to ECC’s then executive director Katie Bordeaux (abruptly fired just last month). She spotted a pool of funds for which her agency might qualify.

Give the grant application a warm, fuzzy title – hinting that any grant bestowed upon ECC would be used for COVID relief. And, voila! Here comes $400,000 down the pike from the Economic Development Administration, with some strings and requirements attached. However, perhaps the best stipulation was paperwork that essentially said spend the money fast!

NO PROBLEM!!

In its infinite wisdom, the General Assembly, prodded by lobbyists working for the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Home Builders Assocation, had approved a new chapter in the General Statutes, known as Chapter 160D.

In a helpful update to all of the state’s 100 counties and many more towns, the UNC School of Government explained the new state law would “affect the language of local land use ordinances, the options for local decision processes, and the administrative practices related to development regulations.”

Got that?

And, the handy thing about this new Chapter 160D? It required counties and municipalities to make all of these tedious ordinance changes (known in the trade as “legal re-writes”) on or before July 1, 2021. From ECC’s perspective, that deadline tied in nicely with Uncle Sam’s admonition to spend the grant proceeds at a lickety-split pace

Editor’s note: Next week, we’ll examine how ECC spent this $400,000 on “legal re-writes” and how a new law firm in New Bern received the lion’s share.

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