"Crumbling state buildings show clear need for bonds"

Raleigh

Ensuring the safety and well-being of state employees is a top priority. We’ve implemented employee safety and hazard awareness programs to ensure that state workplaces are safe and that employees at all levels of an organization are empowered to play a proactive role in workplace safety.

Similarly, Gov. Pat McCrory’s call to get the Connect NC bond proposal on the ballot this fall is a proactive measure not only to help ensure state workplaces are safe, but also to improve the quality of life for all North Carolina residents.

If passed, part of the bond issue will be used to renovate buildings that can be saved, to demolish dilapidated buildings and to upgrade others to make them safer and more efficient places to work. As someone who works in a building that could use major improvements, I’m telling you the work can’t wait!

In my role as the director of the Office of State Human Resources, I spend a significant number of hours each week in the Department of Administration Building on West Jones Street in Raleigh. It is my home away from home. I want it to be as comfortable and inviting as possible, not just for me, but for my colleagues and the many other individuals who visit the building every day.

Unfortunately, the state of North Carolina’s Administration Building, like some other state buildings, has deteriorated due to a lack of funding for repairs. While other state buildings have to put up with broken HVAC units, inadequate insulation and broken elevators, the DOA building has wiring concerns, a leaky roof and other problems. Recently the front entrance had to be repaved to repair the uneven surfaces that created a hazardous situation.

The state’s Albemarle Building, also in downtown Raleigh, is being gutted because it has too many problems after decades of neglect. Before other properties meet the same fate, it is essential that we take proper care of them. By investing in building maintenance and upgrades, we can maximize the use and longevity of our facilities.


McCrory is being fiscally and financially responsible by asking the legislature to let voters decide on the Connect NC bond issue this year. Maintaining and improving existing infrastructure and buildings provide enduring benefits. By spending money to fix crumbling buildings and infrastructure now, we’re preventing costlier fixes in the future.

The second part of the bond issue for highway and transportation projects would help improve our quality of life as well. If passed, it would help improve the flow of traffic, relieve interstate congestion and help make it easier to transport goods to and from our ports. Both parts of the bond proposal would create thousands of short- and long-term jobs, boosting our economy.

When it comes to the Connect NC bond issue, it’s important to let the voters decide sooner rather than later. Our interest rates are at historic lows right now. Delaying the vote could mean higher interest rates down the road, which would end up costing millions more.

McCrory could choose to ignore the issue as it has been ignored in the past, but neglect has only exacerbated the problem. Instead, the governor is passionate about making sure our state remains strong and vibrant. To ensure we remain competitive, let’s make the necessary investment now.

C. Neal Alexander Jr. is director of the N.C. Office of State Human Resources. This publication appeared on The News & Observer on June 11, 2015.