The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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April 24, 2014

County Commission candidates express views on issues


Thursday, April 24, 2014 — Art Burleson (Republican)

Biographical information: N/A

1. I was born and raised in Stanly County. I graduated from WSHS in 1982. My parents worked in the textile industry, my mother worked at Wiscassett Mills and my father worked for American and Efird Mills. I have also worked in the textile industry, transportation, EMS, home construction, utility construction, heavy equipment operator, landscaping and several areas of the auto industry. I know firsthand how each of those jobs are import to local economies. Fast food, convenient stores included as well. I know what those who work these jobs have to do every day, I know what those jobs consist of.

I’ve also been in management positions. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was born to parents who appreciated every day of their working life. Like many families, we had our good times and struggled at times. But it helped us appreciate what we had no matter what it was.

2. Employment opportunities are scarce. Sure, there are fast food and retail jobs that pay minimum wage to $10 per hour, but the county needs industry here with better paying jobs. Alcoa has been trying to market the area for industrial expansion, let them do it. When any new industry expresses an interest in locating here, the board should be welcoming them in. Those industries should be courted and not thrown a bunch of red tape.

3. As I said in a previous question, Alcoa is trying to attract business to the Badin Business Park. How many counties in North Carolina. have an opportunity such as this? We can’t afford not to let new industry come in.

4. I think the 1/4 of a penny sales tax referendum is the fairest way to bring in much needed revenue. It’s still a tax increase, however, at a 1/4 of a penny per dollar spent, you’ve got to spend $4 to spend a penny more in taxes. I’m not going to miss a penny for every $4 I spend.

5. Cutting county services versus a property tax increase is a tough scenario. I think the current property tax rate is sufficient, but if it came down to cutting county services or expenses, I’m sure there are ways that could be accomplished and not cause any compromise in county services performance or an increase in property taxes. I firmly believe the sales tax option is the fairest way to increase revenue.

6. EMS is under funded. Severely. 60,000-plus people live in Stanly County. You have one paramedic truck in Norwood that covers the southern half of the county, two trucks in Red Cross to cover the western end of the county, two trucks in Albemarle the cover Albemarle and the central part, and a QRV (one person) paramedic unit in New London. Each shift also has a supervisor. You have less than one paramedic unit for every 10,000 citizens. One school bus accident could completely exhaust the county’s EMS transport capability. There are days that off-duty personnel are called in to man trucks because none are available due to call volume.

The time lost because of lack of sufficient personnel to handle an increased call load could very well delay the time it takes for someone experiencing a medical emergency to receive advance pre-hospital care. However, we are fortunate to have the men and women who volunteer their time as first responders to provide care for those in need prior to EMS arrival.

7. Yes. This should’ve been implemented years ago, it gives each area of the county a representative on the Board. Five people making decisions for 60,000 was not fair representation. Now that the board is expanding to seven, including districts, it has accomplished fair representation.

8. John Denver, “Take Me Home Country Roads.” I was in Blowing Rock, N.C., on vacation last summer, and for some reason that song kept coming to my mind as I traveled back home to Stanly County.

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