Piedmont schools receiving less lottery money

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County managers in the Piedmont are questioning the state about missing lottery money they expected to receive for the last several years.

When the N.C. Education Lottery first started in 2006, General Assembly statutes required 40 percent of revenue go to local counties for school construction costs.

Rockingham County Manager Lance Metzler said those numbers have not added up.

"We haven't seen 40 percent. We've only seen 22 percent which is about $1 million difference for the next two years," he explained.

In addition, last year the General Assembly removed the language in the statute requiring that 40 percent. So counties are unsure what funds they'll receive in the future.

But many counties have already borrowed funds for school construction projects, taking into account the lottery money they expected to receive.

"We went out for debt based on that 40 percent being there. Most localities did depend on that because it was a general state statute that said those funds would be available and now they're not available. It's a big concern," insisted Metzler. "It could affect our tax base."

Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts also pointed out it could affect how financial institutions loan money in the future. The Forsyth County Commission is voting Monday to move around funs and make up the difference for their bond repayment obligations.

"Our funding plan is suffering. What we did in terms of that tax rate for repaying bonded indebtedness will be challenging," Watts pointed out.

The Forsyth County Commission plans to use $1.3 million that could have been used directly for school improvements this year.

"Schools would love to use that money for something else but, too bad, we have to now commit it to repayment," Watts added.

Metzler said the N.C. Association of County Commissioners is asking the General Assembly to reinstate the 40 percent requirement, and make sure counties get funds originally promised.

"We have very little capacity now in order to build additional schools or to renovate schools because of lack of funding," Metzler said.

Across the state, some leaders are questioning the use of the word "Education" in the NC Education Lottery brand, saying it's a misrepresentation of much money really ends up helping schools.

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