RALEIGH, N.C. -- In July, a 2 Wants to Know investigation looked into a place called the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. Their mission is to promote programs that improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. But they got into some budget trouble.
A state audit found the organization kept the interest earned on state grants. In five years, $145 million in grants earned $20 million in interest. And because of a loophole in the law, the organization could spend that money anywhere they wanted. Upon learning about their funds and the loophole, Governor McCrory froze the grants. As a result of the investigation, the state established a Rural Economic Division in the Department of Commerce. Lawmakers have since pressured the Rural Center to transfer their grant-making operations -- and money -- to the State.
This morning, the state's Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations met and voted on the Rural Center's funds. Here's what will happen according to documents submitted in the meeting:The Rural center will transfer $85 million to the Department of Commerce's new Rural Economic Development Division to administer already existing grants. They'll also transfer $24 million to the state's general fund.
That'll leave the Rural Center with about $7 million. We called to see what they plan to do now. Their media representative, Matt Ehlers, said they have no comment at this time.