Supporters of Cherry Point are approaching city and county governments with requests for money to help fund lobbying efforts.
Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow has formally requested $14,200 from New Bern in its 2013-14 budget.
New Bern Alderman Denny Bucher, who eight months ago was on the ACT legislative committee and is now a board director for the group, said he didn’t know of an organization more important to the area because it lobbies for Cherry Point, which has a strong economic impact in the area.
Bucher said the president’s budget this year is looking at implementing base realignments and closures, called BRAC, throughout the military.
"If that happens, it could have real repercussions to us," Bucher said.
ACT is asking the city for $14,200 in the upcoming budget. In 2012-13, the city appropriated $4,123 to the organization.
In a letter to New Bern city manager Mike Epperson regarding budget requests from ACT, Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders, who is the president of ACT and mayor of Havelock, said times were difficult for Cherry Point and the Fleet Readiness Center East repair facility because of sequestration budget cuts and the possibility of another BRAC.
"If Cherry Point were to close, it would take with it over $2 billion in annual economic impact and about 5,000 jobs from Carteret, Craven, Jones and Pamlico counties," Sanders said in the letter. "… Every local government would feel a dramatic negative impact. Property values would collapse, tax revenues would dry up and new growth would immediately grind to a halt. It is in every citizen’s interest to protect Cherry Point and every local government organization and business should contribute to the effort."
To continue lobbying and educating the public, ACT has conceived an annual, ongoing local funding strategy that asks cities and counties for financial support in relationship to the number of residents they govern within the region.
Because Craven County is home to Cherry Point and is the most populous of the four counties, Craven would be asked to take the lead, Sanders said.
"However the loss of Cherry Point’s economic impact and jobs would affect everyone from the largest county to the smallest town," the letter said. "Every single jurisdiction organization and person will suffer if Cherry Point goes away and each must help ACT according to the relative impact of Cherry Point’s loss and their ability to participate."
ACT plans to ask Havelock for $10,000 in the city’s upcoming budget. Havelock officials are continuing work on the upcoming budget and have not made a determination on how much money, if any, ACT will receive from the city.
Rick Hemphill, Craven County finance director, said ACT is requesting $25,000 from the county for the 2013-14 budget. Last year, Craven County did not appropriate any funds directly to ACT, but did pass on $65,000 from the N.C. Department of Commerce, he said.
In past years, Craven County has appropriated $7,500 to ACT, Hemphill said. He added Craven County has not started its 2013-14 budget deliberations yet.
The $14,200 requested from New Bern, the $25,000 from Craven County and other money from counties, cities and the private sector would support the management, administrative, financial and public outreach activities of ACT.
Marc Finlayson, consultant to ACT, said the board was hoping to set up shop permanently. ACT usually gears up only during BRACs, like in 1993, 1995, 2003 and 2005. But Finlayson said more could be done each year to help support Cherry Point.
ACT’s goal for the upcoming budget is $125,000 from local sources. It is also trying to get funding from the state, but there is nothing in the governor’s budget as yet, Finlayson said.
This year’s requests were determined based on the per capita of the towns and four counties of Craven, Jones, Pamlico and Carteret. For example, all of the populations of towns and counties were totaled. Then the population of Craven County was taken out and determined to have 54 percent of the population, which would be $25,000 toward the goal.
Requests at some of the smaller towns could be as low as $100 or $200, Finlayson said.
Besides Finlayson, ACT has lobbyists from a law firm working with the state government, and a consulting firm lobbying at the Pentagon and Congress.