NACo president calls for summit on rural affairs
National Association of Counties President Javier Gonzales is urging the Bush Administration and Congress to address the problems facing rural America. “President Bush needs to act quickly to convene a White House Summit on Rural Affairs that will help explore problems facing rural America and develop creative solutions for addressing them,” Gonzales said in a July 24 news conference.
Gonzales, a Santa Fe (N.M.) County Commissioner, urged Congress to 1) streamline the application process for federally funded programs, 2) consolidate some of the more than 800 federal rural programs implemented by more than 16 government agencies into a block-grant program targeted directly to rural county governments, and 3) increase the federal investment in rural infrastructure, water and sewer operations and telecommunications.
Gonzales was prompted by the release of NACo’s 2001 County Government Survey. The report compares county governments in five key areas: public service provision, economic development, land use planning, finances and welfare reform. Survey findings drastically highlight the gap betwen rural and urban counties in terms of fiscal resources and local administrative abilities. www.naco.org