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 In the News, July 15, 2010 

ANNEXATION

Coastal community faces annexation. Wilmington’s long-term plans could include the annexation of ten communities. Plans are just in the works at this stage, but city planners are calling to annex an area on the list every other year. The Ogden community tops the list. According to the New Hannover County tax office, the owner of a typical $200,000 home in Ogden pays approximately $930 in property tax. City taxes would add approximately $740 on to that figure every year—bringing the total amount to $1,670 which is an increase of fifty-eight percent. Some Wilmington City Council members say that annexation is part of reality.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL

N.C. a potential leader in solar power. Among the flurry of bills passed late last week by the North Carolina General Assembly is one that could increase solar power production in the state. Solar energy supporters insist that North Carolina, with 250 sunny days a year, has the potential to become a world leader in solar energy production. If signed by the governor, the Renewable Energy Incentives bill would further the state's potential, they add.  Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina, says sunny days are the key. "North Carolina has tremendous opportunity to grow solar power. We have twice as much sun as Germany, which is now the world's solar leader, and we already have the technological know-how within the state."

 

TAXES

Opinion: Why it’s time to tax Internet sales. Buying an $800 couch or television via the tax-free Internet can be nearly $80 cheaper than a purchase made in a high-sales-tax city like San Francisco -- such a deal. But the free ride is costing states and cities billions of dollars a year, and it damages local businesses that find it hard to compete. The Main Street Fairness Act, introduced this month by Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), would end the exemption for big Web retailers like Amazon.com and eBay that fear the change would be a body blow to their business. The Web sales tax issue has been debated and litigated for years, and it is hardly a popular cause, but with state and local governments deeply in debt, the chance to add a massive revenue stream may outweigh the political risks.

 

BROADBAND

Opinion: You win! A bill to temporarily ban municipal broadband projects in North Carolina went down in flames early Saturday after a marathon 19-hour closing session of the legislature allowed a handful of pro-consumer legislators to finally corner and kill the bill.  But that victory would not have come without a coordinated effort by consumers and communities across the state vociferously objecting to legislation designed to protect the duopoly of phone and cable service offered by Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and CenturyLink. This was the fourth attempt by big telecom companies to get state legislators to do their bidding.  It’s almost as if they want to work harder to stop competitors from delivering service than they work at delivering it themselves.  North Carolina is ranked 41st out of 50 states in broadband adoption. Significant areas of the state are not served by any broadband provider, and broadband speeds experienced by customers in North Carolina are among the slowest in the country.

Broadband ‘killer’ is dead. For the last few months, some contentious legislation has been winding its way through Raleigh that would have put a hold on local governments from getting into the retail Internet and cable TV business. The fourth such attempt in recent years, the legislation was finally killed in the wee hours of Saturday morning by the North Carolina House of Representatives before it adjourned.