Lowering state school age one of Polk’s goals for legislature

Published 6:12 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

Polk County commissioners are following through on a resolution earlier this year to ask state legislation to lower the required school age from seven to six. The request is one of numerous goals commissioners will send to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 6 and approved a list of goals to send to the NCACC, which gathers ideas from all 100 counties to establish goals that it will send to state legislators for consideration. The goals approved are for the 2013-2014 legislative session; the NCACC steering committee reviews each county’s list and provides a recommendation to the full board.
Asking the state to lower the school age stemmed from a Polk County Child Protection Team report presented to commissioners in April that indicated two children may have avoided neglect earlier if the required school age was lower. Polk County approved a resolution in May and sent the resolution to all other counties in the state requesting they approve similar resolutions as well as sending the resolution to legislators. North Carolina currently requires children to be enrolled in school between the ages of seven and 16, a law that was enacted in 1907.
Other goals Polk County agreed to send to the NCACC include opposing legislation to shift road maintenance to counties, ensuring adequate mental health funding, requiring generators for adult care homes and allowing counties to use lottery funding to address technology needs.
Also on Monday, Polk County appointed commissioner chair Ray Gasperson as Polk County’s voting delegate at the NCACC conference scheduled for Aug. 16-19.
Commissioner vice-chair Renée McDermott reviewed this year’s NCACC legislative goal list and suggested which goals Polk should recommend next year.
McDermott said last year the NCACC was successful in holding off on the state shifting road maintenance to counties and suggested Polk County include the same goal for next year.
The NCACC was partially successful, McDermott said, in reinstating Average Daily Membership (ADM) and lottery funds for school construction last year, with that goal also making Polk’s list.
Polk County also wants to seek legislation to ensure adequate capacity of state-funded acute psychiatric beds, to oppose legislation to close state-funded beds until there is adequate capacity statewide and to seek legislation to maintain the existing levels of state funding for community mental health services.
Other goals on Polk County’s list include seeking legislation to authorize local revenue options. McDermott said counties have no power unless the state gives it to counties. In most states the counties have all the power, McDermott said.
Authorizing local revenue options was not successful in the state last year but would allow counties to enact by resolution or, at the option of the board of commissioners, by voter referendum any or all revenue options from among those that have been authorized for any other county.
The NCACC was successful last year in supporting the conservation of working lands and farmland preservation, which will be another recommended goal from Polk County next year.
McDermott also suggested seeking legislation to require generators in adult care homes as a protection for senior residents when power is out and to seek legislation that medical charges to the state and counties for inmates be no more than Medicaid charges.
Polk’s other goals are to seek legislation to authorize counties to use lottery funding for school technology and to require payment of manufactured home taxes prior to being sold, repossessed or moved.
Polk County has until Sept. 17 to submit its goals to the NCACC, with the NCACC steering committee scheduled to review all counties’ goals during September and October. The full NCACC membership is scheduled to adopt the goals at a legislative goals conference scheduled for Jan. 24-25, 2013.

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