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Paul Meyer Named League's Next Executive Director

At its meeting last week, the N.C. League of Municipalities' Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Paul Meyer as the League's next executive director. Meyer, currently the League's Director of Governmental Affairs, will be just the sixth full-time executive director in the League's 105-year history. "Paul's experience working on behalf of North Carolina local governments has prepared him well for this position," said Goldsboro Mayor Al King, League president. "The League Board of Directors is confident that Paul is the right person for this job." Meyer previously served as the League's chief legislative counsel and spent more than a decade advocating for local governments at the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. Meyer will succeed Ellis Hankins, who previously announced his retirement effective Jan. 31. Said Meyer, "It is a privilege and an honor to assume leadership of this great organization. North Carolina has great cities, towns and villages, and it is a pleasure to serve them."

Paul Meyer, pictured here with Rep. Julia Howard, has been appointed as the League's next executive director

 Paul Meyer, pictured above at left with Rep. Julia Howard at the League's recent Annual Conference, has been appointed as the League's next executive director.

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Legislative Panel Reiterates Opposition to Deep-Well Injection of Fracking Waste

Meeting Wednesday, legislative members of the Environmental Review Commission (ERC) reiterated their opposition to the practice of disposing of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in coastal aquifers using deep-well injection techniques. ERC Co-chair Rep. Mike Hager, a proponent of the 2012 law that paved the way for the oil and gas industry in North Carolina, said he did not believe legislators considered that disposal option to be viable for North Carolina, a sentiment echoed by N.C. Mining & Energy Commission (MEC) Chair Jim Womack in a follow-up presentation. At the meeting, Womack also provided the ERC other updates on the MEC's rulemaking process to develop a modern regulatory program for hydraulic fracturing. He reported that the MEC would finish all study group reports next spring, and he predicted that the MEC would complete its rulemaking next fall.
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Water & Wastewater Service Tops Legislative Committee's Agenda

The legislative Environmental Review Commission (ERC) dove into how water and wastewater service is provided in the state at a meeting Wednesday. Specifically, legislators' interest in the topic focused on systems' financial solvency and how that fiscal condition influences decisions to consolidate certain systems. In addition, Sen. Ronald Rabin initiated a line of discussion about whether public systems are the most efficient way to provide water and wastewater services. The ERC member discussion followed a presentation from Richard Whisnant and Shadi Eskaf of the UNC School of Government's Environmental Finance Center. The two presented information to assist the ERC in studying the statutory models for establishing, operating, and financing certain organizations that provide water and sewer services in the state, as directed by HB 74 Regulatory Reform Act of 2013. ERC leaders had previously announced that the Commission would receive recommendations from this study in December; however, ERC leaders cancelled the December Commission meeting. The ERC next meets on January 15.
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Tax Adjustments, Local Revenues Among Committee Topics

The Revenue Laws Study Committee met on Tuesday to hear presentations and consider draft legislation for the 2014 session of the General Assembly. One of the topics of an informational presentation was local government revenues in North Carolina. That presentation, given by legislative staff, detailed the types of local distributions and provided a brief history of legislative adjustments to local distributions.

Also discussed by the committee were proposed changes to the sales tax on admission charges to live events, which were part of the tax reform legislation passed during the 2013 General Assembly session. Draft legislation, based on the recommendation of a Revenue Laws subcommittee, would eliminate the sales tax exemption for agricultural fairs, youth athletic contests, nonprofit events and State attractions, while retaining the exemption for events sponsored and held at elementary and secondary schools. The legislation would create a new exemption for nonprofit entities exempt from State income tax if certain conditions are met. It would also clarify that the sales tax applies to university meal plans and newspapers purchased in vending machines, and that regardless of a couple's filing status, annual mortgage deductions are limited to no more than $20,000. That legislation would need to be approved by the General Assembly in the upcoming 2014 Short Session before it would take effect.

The committee also listened to a presentation highlighting the ambiguity of state law concerning the sales and use tax on certain retail items. In some instances when tangible personal property is purchased and then installed in a consumer's home, there are questions as to whether the retailer should collect sales tax from the consumer or whether the contractor who installs the property should remit the use tax. Concerns have been raised about similar purchases and services being taxed differently by various retailers and contractors. Staff presented options for addressing the issue, but no proposals were considered.

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Candidates Announce Plans to Run for State Legislature

With the 2013 elections just behind us, candidates are already beginning to announce their intentions to run for the General Assembly in 2014. Outgoing Town of Cornelius Mayor Lynette Rinker said Wednesday that she would seek the N.C. House seat being vacated by current Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. "As Mayor and as a town commissioner, I've always focused on solving problems and delivering results for the people of Cornelius," Rinker said. "That's the same approach I'll take to Raleigh, and you have my word that I will be the same common-sense, approachable, pro-business, pro-family Conservative leader in Raleigh that I've been right here at home." Also in Mecklenburg County, former county commissioner Dan Bishop said he would run for the House seat currently held by Rep. Ruth Samuelson, who previously announced that she would not run for re-election. And in the N.C. Senate, former Senator Stan White said he would challenge current Senator Bill Cook, who defeated him in 2012 by less than 30 votes.
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North Carolina Officials Gather at NLC's Congress of Cities

More than 80 municipal officials from across North Carolina were registered to travel to Seattle this week for the National League of Cities' Congress of Cities, which runs through tomorrow. While there they were scheduled to hear from a series of speakers such as U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary -- and former Charlotte Mayor -- Anthony Foxx, meet to help set NLC policy on key federal issues, and hear additional updates from League staff members on hand. Working with NLC, including serving on Policy and Advocacy Committees, is a great way to advocate on behalf of your local community at the federal level. The annual Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., is scheduled for March 8-12, 2014, and next year's Congress of Cities is scheduled for Nov. 19-22 in Austin, Texas.
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New Mayors Orientation, Essentials of Municipal Government Upcoming

Registration closed yesterday for New Mayors Orientation, a program co-sponsored by the League and the UNC School of Government that is designed for individuals new to the mayor's office. We look forward to seeing so many of our newly-elected mayors from cities and towns of all sizes in Cullowhee, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill in the next two weeks. Registration is still open for the Essentials of Municipal Government, a two-day session that will be held in Asheville, New Bern, Chapel Hill, Hickory, and Wilmington in January and February of next year. The Essentials of Municipal Government is designed for both newly-elected and veteran elected officials and managers, and it includes the two-hour Ethics training required by local officials of the State. Register for your preferred location now -- we look forward to seeing many of you there in the new year.