Proposed State Cuts Hit Home
- Yes 70%
- No 23%
- Not sure 7%
172 total votes.
A state budget proposal rolled out in the legislature last week, if adopted, would eliminate Moore County’s district attorney and close Samarkand Manor.
The proposal to cut prosecutorial districts back to the original 30 came as a shock to district attorneys and to legislators, including Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger and state Rep. Jamie Boles, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
“It was a complete surprise to all the DAs,” Krueger said Thursday in a telephone interview. “It’s not been discussed with us in any way.”
Boles said he found out about the proposed cuts Wednesday when he had his first opportunity to examine the budget bill in detail.
District 19D was created in 2007 after local legislators lobbied for Moore County to have a district attorney of its own. Support focused on the local need to have greater accountability and improved efficiency in administration of the courts in Moore County, a large but basically rural community.
“It was a shocker,” Krueger said.
Krueger said her office has been inundated with calls from the public, fellow DAs and law-enforcement officials concerned about the proposal and, in particular, the way in which the restructuring is proposed.
If consolidation is needed because of budget concerns, there are better ways to realign the districts, Krueger said. Although the proposal provides only for the original 30 districts, it does not restore the original makeup of those districts.
Under the proposed bill, Moore County would be placed in a new district with Harnett, Johnston and Lee counties. Before the change in 2007, Moore County had been in a district with Randolph and Montgomery counties.
Krueger said the proposed consolidation does not make much sense because the judges serving Moore come from the Randolph-Montgomery district and 13 law enforcement agencies answer to the traditional district.
“I have a problem with the way they’re applying it,” she said. “We were not consulted.”
In addition, she said Moore County would really suffer with the proposed consolidation because of its largely rural nature.
District attorneys in rural counties serve in the courtroom and actually prosecute cases as well as administer the district, while DAs in more densely populated counties operate in a strictly administrative capacity.
Krueger said she covers all types of court when the need arises, such as when an assistant DA is ill or on vacation. If this proposed consolidation is enacted, she said the loss of the district attorney in some districts, such as Moore County, would mean the loss of a prosecuting attorney.
The loss of the DA is just one of several aspects of the budget that would affect Moore County.
Closure of Samarkand Youth Development Center would also be a blow to Boles, who worked vigorously to make sure the facility was not eliminated from the budget two years ago.
The youth center has a traditional tie to Moore County, and most of its employees live in this area.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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