By Jason Brady
The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday adopted its 2023 federal legislative agenda, which includes affordable housing, contaminated drinking water remediation and addressing food insecurities.
There was no discussion by commissioners, who passed the item as part of the board’s consent agenda.
Consent agenda items are vetted by commissioners during their agenda-setting meetings held the prior week. There, commissioners discuss the issues at length, and if the commissioners vote unanimously in support of the item, it is placed on the following meeting’s agenda under consent items.
According to a memo to commissioners from Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt, Cumberland County contracted with The Hamm Consulting Group for federal legislative lobbying services.
The Hamm Group developed a draft 2023 (FY2024) federal legislative agenda with input from commissioners, county leadership team members, city of Fayetteville staff, and the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp. during a series of virtual meetings in October, according to Shutt’s memo.
Ron Hamm presented the draft federal legislative agenda to commissioners at their Nov. 10 agenda session. The proposed set of items helps prioritize the county’s federal advocacy and grant proposals. The board recommended approval of the federal legislative agenda and placed it on the consent agenda for Monday’s meeting.
Among the items on the federal support wish list are:
Infrastructure and environment
Water and sewer
- Water utilities infrastructure
- Contaminated drinking water remediation
- Stormwater management
- Flood prevention and drainage improvements
- Debris and sediment removal from waterways
- Increased funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the N.C. Beaver Management Assistance Program
- Landfill expansion: Support proposals that provide funding for creating new and modernizing existing solid waste-related infrastructure, including organic waste processing facilities.
- Landfill biofuel project improvements
- Electric garbage truck fleet conversion
- PFAS removal for leachate
- Support proposals that increase recycling capacity, including televisions and computer monitors that are toxic due to their lead content, by requiring manufacturers, retailers, and end users to help finance recycling costs.
Economic and Workforce Development
- Future I-685 route: Advocate for the proposed new interstate highway between Greensboro and Dunn to not bypass Cumberland County, instead adjust the route to connect with I-295 providing economic development opportunities.
- Passenger/commuter rail to Raleigh
- Soldiers to Agriculture Workforce Transition Program: Seek funding sources for the program offered through Cooperative Extension/NC State.
- Job skills training to advance employment opportunities in trades
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Reauthorization: Support at least full authorized funding for WIOA programs, and other employment and training programs.
Veterans, Health and Human
Support funding for veterans’ services, mental health, public health and social services.
Military and Veterans Affairs
- Advocate for additional federal and state funding to provide critical resources to County Veterans Services. Advocate for the Commitment to Veteran Support and Outreach Act.
- Soldiers to Agriculture Program: Cooperative Extension
- Impact aid: Increase impact aid to assist school systems in military counties
- Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health: Support increased funding for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants, including substance use disorder and mental health block grants, the Children’s Mental Health Services Program, and other substance use disorder prevention and treatment, mental health and supportive services and training grants.
- Mental Health Crisis/Recovery Center
- Mental Health Court
- Mental Health professionals in 911 Call Center and social work professionals in public libraries
Health and Human Services
- Medicaid for the incarcerated: Counties are required to provide adequate healthcare to individuals who pass through jails each year, while federal statutes prohibit Medicaid funds from paying for that care even if the individual is eligible and enrolled.
- Healthcare related emergency preparedness
- Farmers Market/Food Security/Healthy Foods Access: Seek grant funding for farmers markets to address food insecurity and increase access to healthy foods.
- Affordable childcare: Support proposals and seek funding to address the need for childcare facilities and trained workers following the impact of the COVID pandemic.
- Increased funding for the aging: Support increased funding for Older Americans Act programs and funding to support the Adult Protective Services program.
- Ex-offender re-entry support
- Child welfare
- Affordable housing
- Homelessness funding and support services
- Housing supportive services (case management, counseling, transportation, childcare)
Museum and Library Services
- Funding for social work professionals in libraries (More Social Workers in Libraries Act)
- Children’s science museum: Seek grant funding to expand library services with the creation of a science museum for children.
Public Safety and Emergency Response
County is asking for continued federal investment in public safety and emergency programs and projects.
Public Safety/Emergency Response
- Sheriff’s Office TDMA Radio Replacement
- Emergency Operations: Seek funding for 911 mobile unit backup system and Emergency Command Center
- DNA analysis tools: Seek grant and other funding for DNA analysis
- School Safety/Active Shooter Response
- Mental Health professionals in the 911 Call Center and schools
- Opioid Response including provision of NARCAN to first responders
- Fire prevention and safety
- Emergency back-up power for additional community disaster shelters
Assistant County Manager Brian Haney said the county hired The Hamm Consulting Group in March 2021 for a fee not to exceed $60,000 per year, payable in equal monthly installments of $5,000.
Before starting Hamm Consulting Group in 2010, Hamm was a partner at the Ferguson Group, another Washington, D.C.-based federal lobbying group hired by the city of Fayetteville in the early 2000s.
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