Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) said recently that his office did not spend nearly $90,000 allocated to run his congressional offices in the last fiscal year.
And that puts the congressman near the $1 million mark for unspent operating funds during his legislative career.
In a press release, Coble, whose 6th Congressional District includes part of Rowan County, said this is the 22nd consecutive year he has returned some of the operating funds to taxpayers.
Coble said that his office returned $89,545.43 in unspent funds for 2006. Adding up all the money he has returned since 1985 amounts to just under the $975,911.79 returned during Coble’s congressional career.
“I am fairly well known for being conservative when it comes to spending my own money,” Rep. Coble said in a press release, “and I have always attempted to operate our congressional offices in the same manner.
“We spend only what is absolutely needed in order to maintain first-rate constituent services for the people who are paying the bills,” he said.”I am proud of the record of service we have provided over the years, and I am equally proud that we have done it in a fiscally-prudent manner.”
The budget allocated to Coble in 2006 was $1,325,935.With those funds, Coble maintained a full-time staff of 16. Eight worked in Washington and eight in North Carolina.Four of the district staffers work in the main office in Greensboro and there are four one-person offices in Asheboro, Graham, High Point, and Granite Quarry.
In 1985, the first year he served in the U.S. House, Coble returned $5,176.47. The largest amount of unspent operating funds he returned came in 1996, when he saved just over $123,000.
Coble noted that each House member receives approximately the same amount of money and that the only difference is a larger travel allowance for representatives from states distant from Washington.
One way that Coble has been able to save money is that since 1990 he has refused to distribute any unsolicited mail such as newsletters and questionnaires and responds only to constituents who contact his offices, the press release said.