Legislators: $5.5M to fix local wastewater plant is safe in state budget

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Mount Olive elected officials, administrators and community business leaders are in the grips of what could easily be described as a historical wait and see game that has them all on the edge.

At issue is the status of $5.5 million proposed in the state budget to make desperately-needed repairs at the town’s ailing wastewater treatment plant.

Lawmakers in Raleigh have yet to approve the budget, and the issue is clouded as to whether there are enough votes in the House to override a veto by the governor.

However, a strong move toward hope came to locals, ironically, on Independence Day.

Local leadership, including county commissioners, met here on the July Fourth holiday with state elected officials. North Carolina Speaker of the House of Representatives Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) and District 21 Democrat Raymond Smith of Goldsboro both assured the local delegation there are no intentions, one way or the other, to remove the $5.5 million allotment from the budget.

Moore and Smith toured the local plant and agreed the need for the funds is clear critical.

“I was very encouraged by the meeting, because both of those gentlemen assured us that the money in the budget for Mount Olive’s wastewater treatment plant is going to stay in there,” said Town Manager Charles Brown.

“We went over all the details and explained what the problems are and both of them said it was clear as a bell as to why it is a critical issue that has to be addressed,” he said.

Brown also added the two lawmakers agree the funding of the project is a wise decision in using taxpayer money, and every penny of it can be justified.

“I think the money is safe and it is just a matter of when it will be approved,” Brown continued. “We certainly appreciate both of them tasking their time on a holiday to hear our case. I feel they are dedicated and concerned.”

Now, Brown said, everyone is simply waiting and sitting on the edge.

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