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 In the News, August 5, 2010 

GENERAL

Gastonia touts civic award with council’s paychecks. Officials in one North Carolina city are putting their paychecks on the line to make sure their community is known for a national honor. The Gaston Gazette reported Wednesday that Gastonia’s city council has agreed $8,000 to buy materials publicizing the city’s selection as an All-America City will come from their paychecks if donations don’t cover the costs.

 

STATE BUDGET

Opinion: A sale she could sell the voters. Gov. Bev Perdue remains one of the most unpopular governors in recent North Carolina history. But lately she’s been toying publicly with some ideas that could help boost her political bottom line a bit — while also boosting the state’s fiscal position. As the Associated Press reported over the weekend, Perdue made two interesting statements while signing some 2010 legislation into law. After affixing her signature to the General Assembly’s latest, ill-advised attempt to prohibit video gambling, the governor indicated that she might be willing to rethink the idea of legalizing it during a future legislative session. And after signing a bill promising to clean up corruption around North Carolina’s system of government-owned liquor stores, Perdue said that she was willing to consider the next step: privatizing all or part of the ABC system.

N.C. could lose $190 million on internet purchases. North Carolinians aren't paying sales tax for items purchased on the internet, and it's hurting the state's bottom line. Analysts estimate North Carolina could lose $190 million this year in uncollected sales tax on internet purchases. Nationwide, the figure jumps to $23 billion each year. Currently, retailers not located in our state aren't required to charge sales tax for online purchases. Taxpayers are supposed to self-report online purchases on tax returns. A change could be coming with a bill in congress.

 

ANNEXATION

Asheville’s annexation: Like it or not. Early next year, nearly 700 people may become Asheville residents thanks to two involuntary annexations initiated by City Council July 27. The residents in question live in the Coopers Hawk Drive area on the southwestern edge of the city — which comprises 16 residents on 41 acres — and the sizable Royal Pines subdivision off Sweeten Creek Road, whose 388 acres encompass 670 residents.
Involuntary annexations are always controversial. Those affected are rarely happy about seeing their taxes rise and often resent the lack of any say in the process. Proponents, however, see it as a way to keep cities viable by absorbing those who use their services and live in urbanized or urbanizing areas but don’t pay city taxes.

 

OPEN GOVERNMENT

Opinion: Cary’s web site allows sunshine into its municipal government for its residents. In looking at different sources for ideas for a story, I came across a tab on the Town of Cary's web site simply called, "Sunshine." Curious and intrigued, I looked at the pull-down menu, which lists the usual  choices as Minutes and Agendas, Boards and Commissions,  Cary Town Council, etc.  But there is also a tab for Sunshine Week, which is celebrated in March of each year to promote "Open Government."  … In fact, the Cary "Web site is a prime example of [its] commitment to Sunshine Week. Since 1997, the Town has been putting Council meeting materials on the Web for everyone – Council members, media and citizens - to access at the same time. It is the primary reason Cary’s Web site was created, and today, it boasts more than 55,000 files of 'public records.'”

 

TRANSPORTATION

Some state road projects lose out under new formula funding. Removing politics from state road projects means that some projects have been dropped from North Carolina's priority list under a new funding formula. The state Department of Transportation has identified the need for 1,100 road and bridge projects over the next decade. The projects cost an estimated $45 billion combined, but the DOT expects to have only $9 billion during that period. So, officials have created a formula that scores each project based on factors like traffic congestion and the condition of the roadway to prioritize them. Traditionally, political influence played a role in what road projects were completed in different parts of the state.