Brunswick County mayors ask state leaders for COVID-19 relief funding

Brunswick County mayors ask state leaders for COVID-19 funding relief

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - For years, Brunswick County has been one of the fastest-growing areas in the entire state. But there’s concern the coronavirus could slow that exponential growth, leading to some serious budget issues.

Seventeen mayors across Brunswick County have signed their names on a letter addressed to state leaders in hopes of getting some funding to prevent important public services from being shut down.

Mayor Walt Eccard of Shallotte is spearheading the request and said he knows it’s needed even before the town’s financial numbers became more clear. Estimates now show a shortfall of $1.5 million for Shallotte.

Eccard says some help is on the way. Brunswick County is set to receive $2.5 million from the CARES Act but the money is restricted to solely coronavirus-impacts like public health and medical expenses. Without additional funding, Eccard says there are two options for towns and cities: Raise taxes or cut down on public services like police and fire crews.

“They’re basically trying to not increase their budgets from last year, in some cases reduce them," said Eccard. "That results in us putting off additional requests like hiring additional police and fire that we need as the number of our citizens increases. So, we’re differing those things until we have better certainty on revenue.”

Eccard says there is a contingency plan, but they’d prefer to not go that route. That’d be tapping into their emergency fund which has been built over the past 10 years for natural disasters.

Eccard said they’ve received confirmation from the office of Senator Tillis, and hopes to hear more information within the coming month.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.