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Jul 1, 2024

A Look Ahead at New, Continued Initiatives for New Hanover County in The Next Year

Sponsored Content provided by Chris Coudriet - County Manager, New Hanover County Government

For those of us working in government, every July 1 marks a new beginning. This date is always an exciting moment as it is the starting point to a fiscal year, which means funding for programs and initiatives throughout the community officially begin anew. 
 
In alignment with New Hanover County’s newly developed five-year Strategic Plan and with the vision of our Board of Commissioners, the new year is an opportunity to continue providing the resources you’ve come to expect, while making strides on new endeavors that aim to improve and enhance the quality of life in our community. 
 
Education remains the highest priority for our board, and this year is no exception. While the county’s Average Daily Membership commitment and total funding to public schools have both increased over the last several years, I want to take a moment and focus on three positions in our school systems. 
 
Past boards made a commitment that every public school in New Hanover County would have at least one school resource officer on site, as well as a school nurse and a school-based mental health therapist. For many years, the county and school district shared the cost of those positions, helping make this possible. 
 
This year, the county has taken sole responsibility for funding these roles for an additional sum of $2.1 million to ensure these resources remain available to our students.   
 
Additionally, support to continue operating 12 Pre-K classrooms throughout the system is also being provided. These classrooms have proven to be a vital steppingstone for young people on their social, emotional and educational journey. Making sure the next generation had access to these opportunities was important to our board. 
 
Being efficient, both in practice and principle, has been discussed throughout our organization in recent years. To that end, we’re excited to welcome a new team member who will help oversee this endeavor. 
 
Created by reallocating currently unfilled positions, our organization will bring a Sustainability Manager on staff this year. This individual will work collaboratively across departments to develop protocols and practices that ensure county policies are sustainable concerning environmental issues, specifically those that impact our coastal community. 
 
This person will not only be developing internal best practices for our team, but also working to share with the public ways they can minimize waste and build more sustainable and efficient habits in their personal lives. The application portal for this position is officially open and I look forward to finding the right candidate to fill this important role. 
 
Speaking of more efficient waste practices, there will be a new piece of equipment coming online soon that will help reduce space in our landfill. The purchase of a waste shredder will take bulky items, like construction debris or furniture, that are difficult to compact and grind them into smaller, more manageable pieces. In trials, this machine has been shown to reduce the size of waste 60-70 percent. This machine also separates metal from other materials, meaning we can keep recyclable scrap out of the landfill and give it a second life. 
 
And even though it’s a third-year program, I believe it’s important to highlight the continued commitment of our Commissioners to address affordable housing in the community. 
 
On July 8, the affordable housing plan begins again when the Request for Proposals will officially open for the third installment of a five-year pledge by the board to put $15 million in funding towards projects that increase the stock of workforce housing in the county.  Like the first two years, $3 million has been allocated for this funding cycle and in two years a total of 426 units have been supported through this initiative. 
 
Yes, there will still be yoga classes at the Senior Resource Center. We look forward to the excitement in the eyes of young children as they engage with our library staff during story time. The playing surfaces will be ready to go at our parks, and flu shots will be available at Health and Human Services this winter. 
 
All of this is only a glimpse into what your county government will be supporting in the coming year, and we're excited to see their positive impact on our community. New Hanover County remains dedicated to serving our residents and enhancing the quality of life for all who call our area home.

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