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State Water Programs Begin Enterprise Fund Transfer Requirement

The N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure released an additional form this week that applicants to any of the state's water funding programs must submit. A 2014 state budget provision prompted this requirement, an enterprise fund transfer certification, for any application made to the state's water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure grant and loan programs. In the most recent state budget, legislators required all local governments applying for these funds to certify that no funds had been "transferred" from an enterprise fund to the unit's general fund "for the purpose of supplementing the resources of the general fund." The League secured clarifying language to this provision to allow for reasonable cost allocation payments to be made, such as rent and shared facility costs, engineering and design work, plan review, and shared personnel costs.

Some questions remain regarding implementation of this requirement, and the State Water Infrastructure Authority has already considered legislative language (pg. 14) to suggest to the 2015 N.C. General Assembly to answer some of these questions. In the meantime, for applicants to these funding programs, the state's new form (linked from this webpage) asks applicants to list any movement of funds that would qualify as reasonable cost allocation payments. In conversations with state agency staff, the League learned that the agency expected applicants for the current funding cycle to utilize information from a recent audit and report costs allocated in the previous fiscal year. Those applications are due next Thursday, October 2; however, the agency extended the deadline for the new fund transfer certification to October 31. Contact: Erin Wynia

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CWMTF Grants Still Benefit Cities

The state Clean Water Management Trust Fund is no longer  authorized to make grants for wastewater and conventional stormwater projects, but its most recent awards show that municipalities can still benefit from the fund. The latest round of grants were awarded last week. They include a $529,920 grant to the Town of Wake Forest and a $309,500 grant to the City of Fayetteville. More projects now involve acquisition of land as ecological buffers or for other conservation needs. The Fayetteville grant was awarded for an innovative stormwater project. A full listing of the recent awards can be found here. To find out more about the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, click here.
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Transportation Secretary Releases Draft List of Proposed Bond Projects

State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata has released a draft list of projects that would benefit from a $1 billion transportation bond proposed by Governor Pat McCrory. The list includes $186 million to complete an outer loop around Fayetteville, $180 million for a US 74 bypass around Shelby, $266 million for a Winston-Salem loop, and $66 million for improvements to US 401 through Franklin and Wake counties.  The governor is touting the plan as a way to improve rural access to job markets and broaden economic development. Read more about the list of proposed projects here.
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DOT Moves Forward on Project Scoring, Corridor Planning

The N.C. Department of Transportation has released final scores for transportation projects at the regional and divisional levels as part of the state's new Strategic Transportation Investment funding program. The scores will be used to formulate the State Transportation Improvement Plan, a schedule of projects to move forward in the state over the next 10 years. The administration of Governor Pat McCrory has touted the new transportation funding system as "data driven" and a way to remove politics from road-building decisions.

With the scoring completed, the Department of Transportation will begin circulating a draft State Transportation Improvement Plan for public comment beginning in December. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata says that he anticipates that the state Board of Transportation will adopt a final plan in June 2015. Information about the Strategic Transportation Investment law, the process and an interactive map showing individual projects can be found here.

Meanwhile, DOT recently completed a series of public meetings around the state to gather initial comments and questions regarding the updating of Strategic Transportation Corridors, information used for long-range planning about critical travel corridors in the state. The final recommendations to be considered by the state Board of Transportation are scheduled for release on Oct. 3. The public comment period on those recommendations will run through Nov. 3. Find more information about the Strategic Transportation Corridors planning here.

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DOT Accepting Proposals for Bike, Walking Trail Planning Grants

The state Department of Transportation is accepting proposals as a part of its Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiatives. The program provides funding to municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plans. Since 2004, nearly $4.1 million has been awarded to 155 municipalities through the program. The deadline for applications is Dec. 4, with recipients to be notified in June 2015. Information about the program, the selection criteria and how to submit grant proposals can be found here.
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Foxx Gives No Timeline on Charlotte Airport Decision

Former Charlotte Mayor and current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx is giving no hints about when the Federal Aviation Administration might weigh in regarding control of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Foxx told The Charlotte Observer this week that the dispute over who will run the airport is "an unnecessary mess" and that it would be best for local officials to resolve the dispute. The General Assembly first passed legislation taking control of the airport from the city and handing it to a regional commission in 2013. The dispute is now before the courts, and the judge deciding the case has called for FAA guidance in order to make a ruling. Read The Charlotte Observer story here.
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Former League Interns Making Their Way

Each year, interns hired by the League's Governmental Affairs Team prove instrumental in monitoring legislation and legislative committees, conducting research, and helping in other ways to represent the interests of cities and towns before the General Assembly. With this kind of experience, it should come as no surprise that some of our recent interns are finding success as they begin their legal careers. Jordan Smith, who interned with the League during the spring of 2013, was recently hired by Pitt County as Assistant County Attorney and will begin in the position next week.

In an interview, Jordan also credited a second internship at the Baddour, Parker and Hine law firm in Goldsboro with helping him land in his new job. But he said his exposure to the General Assembly through the League internship was critical. "Knowing that local governments rely on the General Assembly to grant them authority, and that the General Assembly can take away that authority, I thought it would be beneficial to gain some exposure to the General Assembly," Jordan said. He said that during his job interview he was able to stress that he was "comfortable looking at a bill and summarizing how it may impact local governments."

Jordan recalled one episode early in his internship where one legislator didn't think so much of an analysis of a bill that he wrote for LINC'ed IN, receiving a polite but stern email noting his disagreement. Worried about the fallout, Jordan said current Executive Director Paul Meyer "stuck by me," acknowledging that it was a complex bill modifying a cumbersome section of statute and that he had only been given a short time to study the issues. "I was very grateful for his support," he said. 

Some other recent interns and their current whereabouts include:

  • Matt Meinig (summer 2012), staff attorney, North Carolina General Assembly.
  • Cindy Plante (spring 2013), International City/County Management Association fellow, City of Evanston, Illinois.
  • Michael James (fall 2013), International City/County Management Association fellow, Lee County government.

And, of course, the League's own Regulatory Affairs Associate, Sarah Collins, interned here in the fall of 2012 and in the spring of 2013.   

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Carruthers Named Greensboro Attorney

The Greensboro City Council has named Tom Carruthers its city attorney. Caurruthers had served as interim city attorney for the last five months and has worked in the Greensboro City Attorney's Office since 2009. He also serves on the League's General Government Legislative Action Committee. Read media coverage of the announcement here.

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Boone Selects New Town Manager

The Boone Town Council has hired John Ward III as its new town manager. Ward comes to Boone after serving as city manager of Jefferson, Ga., and will begin in his new job on Nov. 1. Ward will replace longtime Town Manager Greg Young, who is retiring after 23 years in the position. Read media coverage of Ward's hiring here.
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Duke Energy Creates Waterways Grant Program

The City of Asheville has received one of the first grant awards from a new $10 million waterways improvement fund created by Duke Energy. Duke Energy announced the creation of the fund this week. The fund will include $1.5 million for projects in the Dan River Basin, where a closed Duke plant spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash in February. The $45,000 award to Asheville will help pay for environmental education kiosks along the city's Town Branch Greenway. More information about the fund and contact information can be found here.
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Board of Transportation Approves New Road, Bridge-Naming Policy

The state Board of Transportation recently updated its policy and procedures for honoring individuals through the naming of roads, bridges and ferries after them. The process requires that a local government approve a formal resolution before a name can be submitted to the Board, meaning that city and town councils will continue to be heavily involved in the honorary designations. The criteria includes a requirement that municipal councils or boards of county commissioners approve those resolutions unanimously before a name is put before the state Board. Read the entire policy and procedures here.