“There is a difference between a fee and a tax,” said State Rep. John Szoka. It’s a distinction that is arguable, but for the record “fees are charged to pay for the provision of a service and only for that service,” added Szoka. Republican lawmakers don’t like to raise taxes, but they apparently are not as concerned about increasing fees. The GOP controlled general assembly raised motor vehicle fees, which went into effect this month. One that you’ll notice immediately is the cost of renewing a car’s registration. According to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, it went from $28 to $36. An 8-year driver’s license renewal is now $40 which is an $8 increase. A 5-year driver’s license renewal went up $5 to $25. The charge for a title certificate went from $40 to $52. The 30 percent overall increase is the first in 11 years. The updated charges are expected to raise $150 million for road and bridge improvements. Meanwhile, thanks to the political clout of North Carolina’s automobile dealers, the state’s low highway use tax on car sales will remain unchanged at 3 percent. “The distinction between fees and taxes may seem to be like splitting hairs but it is an important distinction,” said Szoka.
Trailblazing Female General
The new Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy took command this month. Brig. Gen. Diane Holland is the first female officer to assume the responsibility for the military, physical, character and social development of more than 4,400 cadets. She’s a 1990 graduate of the school. Earlier in her career Holland served with Fort Bragg’s 20th Engineer Brigade as a battalion logistics officer and then as a company commander. After that, Holland earned a Master of Arts at Duke University and returned to West Point to teach. She also attended the Army Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies, where she earned a Master of Military Arts and Sciences. Holland most recently served as a Deputy Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division, a unit of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which is headquartered at Fort Bragg. It was another first for a female general officer. Lt. Gen. Robert Carlson Jr., the United Stated Military Academy’s superintendent, said “The Corps of Cadets is getting a great commander and an outstanding leader.”
CFRT’s New Administrator
Fayetteville’s Cape Fear Regional Theatre has a new managing director. The board of directors this month named Beth Desloges the leader of CFRT’s administrative team. She is a 2011 graduate of South University in Savannah, Georgia, where she earned a Masters of Business Administration and worked as Executive Director of Susan G. Komen of Coastal Georgia. As Managing Director of the CFRT, Desloges will supervise all operations while working alongside Artistic Director Tom Quaintance to keep the theatre moving forward. “She is a perfect fit for CFRT, and I am thrilled with the team that we have in place going into 2016,” said Quaintance. Desloges said she learned the value of theatre as a teenager in New Hampshire. “Many of the valuable life skills that have made me a successful adult derived from my days as a theater kid in a small New Hampshire community.”
Athletics at FTCC
Fayetteville Technical Community College is establishing a competitive sports program. Mike Neal has been hired as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at FTCC. He comes to Fayetteville from Sanford where he served for 25 years as Athletic Director of Central Carolina Community College. College officials say Neal will be responsible initially for establishing men’s and women’s basketball and golf programs for the 2016-17 season. Neal is a 1986 graduate of Western Illinois University. FTCC will play its basketball games at the Crown Coliseum. The golf program’s home course will be Stryker Golf Course at Fort Bragg. FTCC will likely add other sports teams later, although President Larry Keen has said football would never be an option because of its expense. Fayetteville Tech will likely compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division II.