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Webinar to Focus on Pension Spiking Law

Look for information soon on a webinar that the League will be hosting on Friday, November 14, from 1:30-2:30 p.m., to discuss a new law designed to discourage late-career pension spiking. The law will go into effect Jan. 1, providing a short window of time for local governments to comply with its provisions. The N.C. Association of County Commissioners will be co-hosting the webinar, and Sam Watts, policy director with the Retirement Division at the Office of State Treasurer, will present information to webinar participants about the law and its effects.  

Last week, the Local Government Employees Retirement System (LGERS) Board of Directors approved a critical component of the formula that will determine when pension spiking is deemed to have occurred. Estimates based on the approved formula suggest that 0.27 percent of new retirees annually would be affected by the change. The legislation is meant to discourage pension spiking in an effort to maintain the fiscal solvency and health of the local government pension fund. Read more about the law and formula adopted by the LGERS board here.

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D.C. Ride-Sharing Rules Seen as Model by Some

New regulations in Washington, D.C., regulating ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are generating discussions about whether those regulations should serve as a model for North Carolina cities. Uber executive David Plouffe was quoted in this Charlotte Observer article calling for exactly that result. The measures approved by the District of Columbia City Council include requirements for a background check for drivers extending back seven years, annual safety inspections for the drivers' cars, and insurance coverage of $1 million.

The Charlotte City Council had been considering a set of proposed regulations, but taxi companies criticized them as too loose while Uber and Lyft called them too strict. With the General Assembly conducting its own study of ride-sharing regulations, Charlotte decided to delay consideration of any new rules. This piece from The Washington Post's wonkblog provides an overview of the decision to regulate the ride-sharing services in the nation's capital. It also suggests that cities might be able to get something more out of the deals to regulate the services: data. 

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Post-Election Push for Marketplace Fairness Act Expected

There is continuing talk from observers in Washington that the lame duck session of Congress represents the best opportunity for the passage of federal legislation to facilitate the collection of online sales taxes by the states. Carolyn Coleman, director of federal advocacy at the National League of Cities, expressed that view recently while speaking to state municipal association officials from around the South at the Southern Municipal Conference held in New Orleans. Newspapers and other publications that follow federal politics and policy have been making the same point, suggesting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans an all-out push for the Marketplace Fairness Act when Congress reconvenes after the election. (See this earlier article from The Hill.)

That push may involve a deal that ties the collection of Internet sales taxes to making permanent a temporary federal ban on Internet service access taxes. Meanwhile, League members will consider a proposed federal advocacy goal at the Dec. 11 Advocacy Goals Conference that addresses the issue. The proposed goal calls for the support of legislation "allowing municipalities to collect the sales tax they are currently owed on purchases from Internet-base retailers."

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Election Day is Tuesday!

This coming Tuesday, Nov. 4, legislative races around the state will be decided, as well as that huge U.S. Senate contest. The League would like to thank all candidates for their interest in serving in public office and for their desire to make North Carolina a better place. To learn more information about Tuesday's election, go to the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. You can also find election results there on Tuesday night.

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Village of Pinehurst Turns to Fort Bragg for Manager

The Village of Pinehurst recently decided to look just down the road when hiring a new village manager, but it didn't turn to a candidate from a fellow municipality. It looked to Fort Bragg. The Village Council this week announced that it would be hiring Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, who is garrison commander at the sprawling Army post. Sanborn's role as garrison commander is the military equivalent of a city manager. He recently told the Southern Pines Piilot that the job represented the right opportunity. He will not start in his new job until sometime next year.

Pinehurst's decision is hardly unprecedented. Just a year ago, the City of Havelock chose to hire Frank Bottorff, the former commanding officer at Cherry Point Marine Corps air station, as its city manager.

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Cities' Fiscal Outlook Improves

A recent survey from the National League of Cities suggests that city officials from around the United States are more optimistic about fiscal conditions than at any time since the Great Recession. The survey of 354 cities also shows property taxes rising for the first time in five years. You can read more about the survey here.