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League's Annual Conference a Huge Success

CityVision 2016 Accelerate!, the League's annual conference held in Raleigh on Oct. 23-25, has gone into the books as a massive success with more than 600 attendees representing 200-plus municipalities that showed strong statewide positioning for the 2017-18 biennium along with top-quality leadership back home.


Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod discusses community economic development and the new Here We Grow campaign with Harris Vaughan of Eckel & Vaughan

The energized slate of municipal officials participated in affiliate group meetings, vital networking, idea-sharing, a lively gala and awards presentations as well as new programming like the "Town Talks" that brought out experts on issues important to today's cities and towns. Speakers like Hilary Greenberg, Mac McCarley and Ron Kimble gave crucial information on local economic development strategies and downtown revitalization; Harris Vaughan detailed the League's important, new Here We Grow campaign highlighting cities' and towns' economic development successes (explore herewegrownc.org); Tony Buettner discussed happiness and longevity for residents in municipalities; Dan Burden discussed smart town planning and transportation advancements; and Jack Ryan went over modern challenges for law enforcement officers. The conference was also merged with the Advocacy Goals Conference, which set League priorities for 2017-18. The League would like to thank all guests and municipal, policy and legislative officials who made CityVision 2016 such a success. Read on in this newsletter for more.


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Conference Sets New Officers, Board Members


Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny takes his oath as League president

Representatives from cities and towns across North Carolina on Monday elected Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara to serve for the next year as officers of the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Matheny was selected as president after having served as 1st vice president for the past year; Lazzara was selected as vice president after having been elected 2nd vice president a year ago. Under constitutional changes adopted last year by the NCLM members, the organization chose to no longer elect a second vice president after 2016. The selections were made during the League’s annual conference, CityVision 2016 Accelerate! held in Raleigh from Sunday through Tuesday.


Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazarra is League vice-president

Matheny has served as mayor of Zebulon for 23 years, and prior to his election to that post, was a town commissioner for 15 years. His involvement with the League spans more than a decade, having been a member of the NCLM Board of Directors for four years before being elected as 2nd vice president in 2014. Prior to his election to the board, Matheny served on NCLM policy committees. He also has served on the League’s Risk Management Services Board of Trustees, which oversees three insurance risk pools. Matheny replaces outgoing NCLM President Lestine Hutchens, the longtime mayor of Elkin.


Lestine Hutchens, mayor of Elkin and outgoing 2016 League president, is congratulated and thanked for her strong service by Matheny and League Executive Director Paul Meyer

As he spoke of the challenges facing municipalities in a changing world, Matheny urged municipal officials to see those challenges as opportunities that can motivate communities. "At the end of the day, all people are bound by the fact that all of us, all of humanity, are problem solvers. Solving problems is what people do. You have to use those problems and challenges as motivation,” Matheny said. “Upset with the legislature? Talk to them. Feel like your residents don’t appreciate the efforts of your city or town? Work harder to communicate with them, listen to them, educate them, and educate yourself.” Lazzara has served on the Jacksonville City Council since 2005 and has been mayor pro tem for three terms. He had served on the NCLM Board of Directors prior to his selection in 2015 as 2nd vice president.

Those selected to new terms on the NCLM Board of Directors are: Washington City Councilman William Pitt, District 2; Bethel Mayor Gloristine Brown, District 4; Morrisville Council Member Liz Johnson, District 6; Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, District 8; Lenoir Mayor Pro Tem Ben Willis, District 10; Franklin Mayor Bob Scott, District 12; Whiteville Mayor Terry Mann, at-large; Laurel Park Manager Alison Melnikova, manager seat; Chapel Hill Manager Roger Stancil, manager seat; Michelle Daniels, N.C. Local Government Budget Association, undesignated affiliation organization; Charlotte City Council Member Ed Driggs, large city seat; Durham Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, large city seat; Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, large city seat; Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson, large city seat; Raleigh Mayor Pro Tem Kay Crowder, large city seat; and Winston-Salem Council Member Derwin Montgomery, large city seat.

League Executive Director Paul Meyer said he continues to look forward to working with a diverse group of board members that reflect the diverse visions of North Carolina cities and towns. He acknowledged that he would miss working with Hutchens, whose term as mayor also ends this year and who is not seeking re-election. “Mayor Hutchens has been a joy to work with. No one has been more committed to bettering their town or more committed to helping North Carolina municipalities achieve their goals and aspirations. The people of Elkin know what I mean when I say she is true treasure,” Meyer said.

Related video: 3 Questions with League Board Members


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Cities, Towns Approve Priorities for 2017-18 Legislative Session

League-member cities and towns this week approved legislative priorities for the 2017-18 legislative biennium, with several of those priorities focused on the significant revenue challenges facing municipalities. In all, more than 200 municipal officials representing over 100 member cities and towns approved 15 legislative goals during Sunday’s Advocacy Goals Conference in Raleigh, held in conjunction with CityVision 2016 Accelerate! Click here for a video of the goals set. The approval of the goals marked the culmination of more than six months of work by the League’s four policy committees, which individually are made up of dozens of municipal officials from around the state, as well as the League’s Board of Directors and general membership.

Revenue-related priorities approved by League members include providing municipalities with additional locally-controlled revenue options, revising the state tier structure that measures local economic distress and affects grant availability, and seeking more state-level funding for municipal infrastructure needs. Conference attendees also agreed on a handful of goals intended to preserve municipal authority. Those goals include opposing any legislation that interferes with local management or ownership of local assets, supporting legislation providing for municipal elections to be determined by local municipal authority, and supporting municipal authority regarding municipal personnel issues.

Outgoing NCLM President Lestine Hutchens, mayor of Elkin, noted that the 3 million people expected to move to North Carolina over the next 15 years will largely be moving into the state’s cities. “We have to prepare, and to do so, we have to show our legislators and show our citizens why all cities and towns need the revenue and the authority to serve our people,” Mayor Hutchens said.


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League Awards Rep. Davis, Sen. McKissick as Community Champions


Rep. Ted Davis accepts his Community Champion Award from Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens, the League's outgoing president

State Rep. Ted Davis of Wilmington and State Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham were recognized Monday night as recipients of the N.C. League of Municipalities' Community Champion Award. The award was presented to each legislator for dedicated support of North Carolina cities and towns during the 2016 legislative session. Rep. Davis, who began service in the state House in 2012 after longtime leadership in New Hanover County government – including a chairmanship on the county board of commissioners – earned the award for his proven knowledge of municipalities' statewide economic importance. As chairman of the House Local Government Committee, he kept a close eye on proposals affecting cities and was instrumental in stopping some legislative provisions harmful to municipalities. Rep. Davis said of his time in local government: "I became very aware of the need for a good, positive relationship between local government and legislators, because unless you can have a frank and open dialogue with your local delegation, how can you know what the state is going to do that might affect you? Or how can your local House and Senate member know how they can help you with legislation that is important to you?" (Click here for media coverage of the award.)

 
Sen. Floyd McKissick addresses League members after accepting his award

Sen. McKissick, who entered the state Senate in 2007 following service on the Durham City Council and other local government bodies, earned the award for his standout efforts to dissect
legislative proposals, notably those related to municipalities, and steadily communicate with stakeholders including the League to understand their perspective. "We are all partners in this – state and local governments providing for our citizens," Sen. McKissick said, adding that the award “is something that I take very seriously, and I feel very humble for receiving this honor."


Hutchens presents Legislative Assistant Laura Spratley with the General Assembly Ambassador Award

Legislative Assistant Laura Spratley was recognized with the League's General Assembly Ambassador Award for her professionalism and involvement. Ms. Spratley serves as legislative assistant to Rep. Stephen Ross of Burlington, who was instrumental in restoring the state's historic preservation tax credits. She began work as a legislative assistant in December 2012 and has also worked as a policy researcher at the Department of State Treasurer. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Public Administration program at N.C. State University. Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens, who served as League president for 2016, presented the awards during CityVision 2016.


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After Matthew: Public Assistance Applicant Briefings Set; Small Business Bridge Loans Available

N.C. Emergency Management has announced dates and locations for public assistance (PA) applicant briefings in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Municipalities located in the 41 counties in eastern and central parts of the state that plan to apply for federal and state reimbursement for Hurricane Matthew disaster response and recovery are highly encouraged to attend one of these briefings. The announcement states: "At the briefing, potential applicants (local governments, state agencies, private nonprofits) will be given an overview of the PA program/process, any event-specific details, and the 'Request for Public Assistance' (RPA) form, which is the application to participate in the PA program in order to receive reimbursement for eligible response and recovery costs incurred as a direct result of Hurricane Matthew." Click here to view the full announcement with locations and dates, background info and contacts. Click here for the RPA form, which applicants may complete ahead of the briefing and submit on site. Anyone unable to attend any of the briefings may send the completed form to wendy.estes@ncdps.gov. The deadline currently is Dec. 8.

The 41 counties included are Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Martin, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Wake, Washington, Wayne, and Wilson.

N.C. Emergency Management has advised the League that any municipalities wanting to help local governments in eastern North Carolina with recovery efforts should contact their county emergency management directors and let them know what resources they are able to send. The county emergency management director can then upload the information to the State Emergency Operations Center so Emergency Management staff knows what resources are available. Then they can mobilize them to the areas of the state that need them.

Any impacted municipality that is not getting the resources it needs should contact the office of its county emergency management director to request assistance. If requests go unanswered, the municipality may contact Rob Shepherd, League Assistant Director of Business and Membership Development Services, at rshepherd@nlcm.org or (336) 456-7151.

For small businesses impacted by Hurricane Matthew, bridge loans of $1,000-$15,000 are available to help with recovery while federal loans, insurance payouts and other relief monies are awaiting approval. Click here for details and a list of counties where small businesses are eligible. The North Carolina Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program is a partnership of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center and the N.C. Community Colleges Small Business Center Network. According to program information, loans will have 90- or 180-day terms and will be interest-free for the loan term; payments aren't required during the loan term but must be paid in full by the term's end, or interest will begin to accrue.

Meanwhile, please direct individual residents and businesses affected by the storm to www.disasterassistance.gov or (800) 621-3362 so they can file for FEMA relief.


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League's Food Bank Partnership Still Accepting Storm Aid

Thank you for your contributions to www.ncfoodbanks.org/NCLM, the League's special partnership with the N.C. Association of Feed America Food Banks, as the need for post-Matthew relief continues. We're still raising funds. Donations can be made via PayPal account or with a debit or credit card. "Cities and towns in eastern North Carolina are combating major flood damage and are working with state and federal authorities to begin the recovery process as soon as possible," says the website. "While long-term recovery plans are being put in place, there are immediate needs that many still have in the wake of Hurricane Matthew." Please tell your colleagues about this, and thank you for your consideration. In the meantime, the League continues to offer its best. Local governments may visit the League's readynclocal.org for resources.


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Here We Grow is Growing!

At CityVision, you heard about the power of Here We Grow, the League's new campaign shining light on the economic development successes of municipalities and how they're vital to the state's prosperity. Now, take a moment to join -- totally for free. Browse the stories at herewegrownc.org and send an email to about@herewegrownc.org to obtain a login. If you're with one of our municipalities, we'll send you a username and password to access the site. There, you can add your story and find tools to help you share it further. We want to bring attention to your successes. To remind, the idea behind Here We Grow is simple: When each of us does better, we all do better. We're already seeing cities and towns adding their names to the Here We Grow map. Join them. For more information, feel free to email Scott Mooneyham or Ben Brown on the League staff.


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What Do Drones Mean for Local Govt? Upcoming Forum Examines

Mark your calendars for the next League-sponsored education forum -- this time about drones and their implications for local government. The forum, which will feature state Rep. John Torbett among other experts on the technology, is scheduled for Nov. 16, 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant meeting room, 8500 Battle Bridge Rd. in Raleigh. The format will include a look at the big picture with drones, a moderated panel discussion, and a question-and-answer period.

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been visible in backyards, parks, festivals, and game fields for many years now. The near-future is set for exponential growth and use of drone technology. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aerospace Forecast projects an increase in sales of UAVs from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. As a result, a number of states and cities have taken action to address this enticing, yet sometimes problematic, technology. In the past five years, UAVs have created their share of problems, including near collisions with piloted aircraft, interference with large-scale events and crashing into buildings, from houses to the New York State Capitol building. Moreover, commercial uses for drones are becoming more widespread and popular with public and private agencies, ranging from Realtors to inspectors to photographers.

In June 2016, the FAA published regulations to govern the use of drones and established requirements for operators. These rules will create a spectrum of opportunities for redesigned traditional service offerings. Nevertheless, a proliferation in the use of drone technology will subsequently present uncharted territory for city governments. How will local policies address privacy, nuisances, trespassing, visual pollution and other public safety challenges? The League’s UAV / Drone Education event will feature speakers and panelists from the Next Gen Aviation Consortium at NCSU, Brooks & Pierce law firm, NC Department of Transportation Aviation Division, Olaeris, and Clarion Associates. Parking is available on site. You may also participate remotely via webinar. Click here to register. Contact League Grassroots Initiative and Civic Engagement Associate Will Brooks at (919) 715-8154 or wbrooks@nclm.org with any questions.


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Municipal Equation: The Science, Economics of Trees in Cities

We enter a better kind of urban jungle on Municipal Equation's latest episode all about the science and economics of trees in cities -- way more interesting than you might think at first. Indeed, studies show an economic argument for more trees in our cityscapes. Our national guests here apply scientifically backed dollars-and-cents appraisals to the trees that line our streets and green our downtowns. And they discuss tools you can access to tally such values right where you live. And, yes, we also discuss the much-harder-to-quantify relationship that humans and trees have shared since the dawn of man -- and what that means for city neighborhoods lacking in greenery. A lot to think about -- and surely a few surprises -- in this episode of Municipal Equation.

You can find all past episodes here. Municipal Equation is also available on iTunes and streaming services like Stitcher and Google Play. Have ideas for the show? Send them to host/producer Ben Brown at bbrown@nclm.org.


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Join a League Policy Committee!

There is still time to apply to serve on one of the League's policy committees, which is a great way to get involved in the advocacy efforts that benefit all cities and towns. The deadline to fill out an interest form is Nov. 18. You can return the form to Government Affairs Coordinator Karen Waddell. The Legislative Action Committees and Regulatory Action Committee serve a crucial role in developing League priorities and in making the needs of cities and towns known to state and federal policymakers. Get involved today! Contact: Karen Waddell

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$147M in Powell Bill Money Allocated

More than $147 million is going to more than 500 cities and towns across the state in support of roads, bikeways, greenways and sidewalks, according to a news release from Gov. Pat McCrory. The first half of the money through the Powell Bill fund went out on Sept. 28; the remainder will be distributed Dec. 30. More than 20 cities will receive at least $1 million, according to the release. Click here for the release and here for a complete list of funded cities and towns and the amounts allocated.

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Upcoming: U.S. Communities Sourcing Summit

Nov. 17 is the date of the U.S. Communities Sourcing Summit in Hickory -- an event co-hosted by the League with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and Catawba County Commissioner Kitty Barnes. "Strategic Sourcing Summits are free educational seminars held throughout the country that give you a fast and easy way to learn how to maximize your time and budget through the U.S. Communities program," according to U.S. Communities. The summits include advice on how to save using competitively solicted contracts and online purchasing tools, among other know-how. Guest speakers at the Hickory summit will include Mayor Rudy Wright and Assitant County Manager Dewey Harris. Lunch will be provided and free parking is available on site. Click here to register. The deadline is Nov. 14. The summit will be held at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, 1880 2nd Ave. NW in Hickory.