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 In the News, July 20, 2010 

GENERAL

N.C. treasurer unveils local government finance tool. Want to see how your city or county stacks up financially in North Carolina? The State Treasurer's Office has a new tool for citizens and public officials to examine the fiscal health of local governments. Treasurer Janet Cowell unveiled this week a page on her Web site that allows users to get five years of financial information on municipal and county governments like debt levels, cash balances and expense levels. The program also can evaluate how a government is performing compared to like-situated governments in the state.

Cary amends shared leave policy. The Town Council on Thursday pushed through an amendment to the town's employee benefits package that increases the number of vacation hours Cary workers can donate to each other in times of serious illness.  By a vote of 6-to-1, the council approved a change to its shared leave policy, adopted in May, that now allows town employees to donate up to 240 hours of vacation time to colleagues.

Tennis in tobacco town: Snow Hill serving for national title. Snow Hill on Friday was named a finalist out of 82 cities for the United States Tennis Association’s “Best Tennis Town” award, a designation that could bring even more tennis capital to the Greene County town. As the sole North Carolina finalist, Snow Hill will compete against nine other locales, including Clearwater, Fla., Delray Beach, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., Rome, Ga., Rosemount, Minn., Beaverton, Ore., Charleston, S.C., Richmond, Va., and Manchester Center, Vt., in an online nationwide vote here 

 

ANNEXATION

Judge dismisses lawsuit aimed at stopping Monkey Junction annexation. Wilmington's annexation of the Monkey Junction area, an issue that once brought hundreds of protestors to City Hall, appears likely to move forward after a judge's ruling early this month. On July 1, New Hanover County Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham ruled the lawsuit lacked merit, and granted the city's request to stop the case short of a trial. Unless the property owners who sued to stop the annexation appeal the ruling this month, the annexation of the 950-acre tract of land south of Wilmington will take effect Aug. 31, according to a statement from city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert.

Changes may close ‘donut holes.’ Islands of property exist within the City of Kannapolis that are not legally within Kannapolis city limits, but that will likely soon change, according to city officials. The N.C. Legislature approved a bill early Saturday giving Kannapolis the authority to annex property that falls into this category. Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg called the unincorporated areas donut holes because they are surrounded by property that is part of the city and must adhere to its development laws and basic maintenance codes for residential and business structures. Neighboring properties in the unincorporated donut holes do not have to follow the city rules. They also receive city services, but do not pay city taxes.

 

ABC SYSTEM

Morganton’s ABC board a ‘model’ for the stateTickets to football games and a television are examples of gifts Morganton ABC Manager Garry Harding says liquor distributors have offered him in his 35 years as an employee at the store. That he declined the offers is just one reason Morganton’s operation is a model for the rest of the state, says Michael Herring, chief administrator for the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. State legislators recently passed tighter restrictions governing ABC boards.

Editorial: ABC reforms. Multi-billion-dollar businesses can't be run efficiently without adequate operational standards. But that is pretty much the way 167 local Alcohol Beverage Control boards were being allowed to function in North Carolina. The General Assembly stepped in and changed that this month. North Carolinians and visitors spend billions of dollars every year on alcohol, whether in restaurants, bars or at the local ABC outlet. The net revenue stream -- in other words, the profits -- to local governments and the state's General Fund is about $260 million a year.

 

SWEEPSTAKES CAFES

Editorial: State should keep video gambling illegal. As it wrapped up its short session last week, the North Carolina General Assembly drove a stake through the heart of video sweepstakes gambling. If past experience is any indication, the industry will yank the stake from its heart and continue its business without skipping a beat. In North Carolina, gambling is illegal with the exception of gaming in Cherokee and the state lottery. Yet, unregulated electronic gaming popped up years ago, and with it a number of problems. For one, illegal gaming parlors have a tendency to attract other illegal activities. For another, the dollars generated by illegal gaming are a breeding ground for corruption. Questionable contributions from the video poker industry put prosecutors' focus on former House Speaker Jim Black (who wound up in prison on other charges), while former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford was imprisoned for protecting and shaking down video poker operators.