George Liner is challenging a statement Lee K. Allen made in a newspaper article about funding for the Havelock-Craven County Library.
Liner is running against Allen in the Republican Primary for the District 6 seat on the Craven County Board of Commissioners. It is a seat that Allen has held for the last 19 years.
Allen made the statement in the April 24 edition of the Havelock News that the only time a library funding formula was discussed was during talks about computers in 2013.
Liner said — and public records show — that Allen was present in a 2009 meeting between the Havelock Board of Commissioners and the Craven County Board of Commissioners in which the city requested that the county consider a 65 percent county/35 percent city cost share formula to reflect library patron usage.
Allen admits that the matter was discussed but contends there was never any agreement between the city and the county and that was what his comments were based on.
“There were a lot of things discussed. There were no conclusions on anything,” Allen said. “There was no resolutions on anything and I had never heard of the 65/35 before those meetings anyway, and I don’t even remember who brought it up.”
Liner said the 65/35 percent split had been discussed as early as possibly 2008, though he admits there has never been a formal agreement between the county and city.
“They would never come to a written agreement,” Liner said of the county. “It was always discussed and the city just decided we were going to stick with that.”
Whether formal or not, figures from the city and county for Havelock library funding for four of the last five years show the city paying 35 percent and the county at 65 percent. In fiscal year 2009-10, the division was 37.7 percent city and 62.3 percent county.
Liner said the library funding is at the heart of his contention during the campaign that the eastern end of the county is not getting its fair share of county funding for services.
Allen said he feels Liner is attacking him.
“All he’s doing is attacking me, I guess,” Allen said. “That’s fine. I’ve been attacked by bigger and better people than him anyway. What he says doesn’t make it true.”
Liner said Allen shouldn’t take it personal.
“I have no intentions of attacking him. He’s a fine gentleman,” Liner said. “He’s done a lot in the 31 years that he’s been a public official. It just went overboard to make a comment like that I found wrong.
“I have nothing bad to say about the individual. I just found it strange that he would make that comment over something so important to this area of the county.”
Allen, who previously served as a Havelock city commissioner, is a former Navy Corpsman who served with Marine Corps units in Vietnam.
“I take my job serious,” Allen said. “I have for a lot of years. I don’t know about him. As a matter of fact I never even heard of him until he got on the Havelock board. Nobody else has either, as far as I know. Whatever he wants and does is fine.”
Liner, a career member of the Marine Corps and long-time civil service worker, now retired, has been a Havelock commissioner for the last eight years.
“This election is not about me and him,” Liner said. “It is about the people here in District 6 and this end of the county having representation, and the people will make that choice.”