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Answers About Impact Fee Legislation

With so many questions afloat over the effects of new legislation on system development fees or impact fees, League Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia and City of Raleigh Associate City Attorney Dan McLawhorn have authored a clarifying guide. "A New Day and Way for Setting Utility Impact Fees" offers background, context, an explanation of the new legislation (HB 436) and a straightforward Q&A section, all within a digestible 10 pages. You can download it here it now.


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Registration Filling Quickly for CityVision 2017

Just two weeks remain to pre-register for Connect CityVision 2017 -- the League's annual conference scheduled for Sept. 20-23 in Greenville -- and seats are filling quickly. Register now to represent your town. Don't miss your chance to join with hundreds of municipal officials from across North Carolina to network and learn best practices for connecting to technology, to neighboring cities and towns, to regional projects and organizations, and to influential leadership skills. The annual conference also is where members elect officers and make any constitutional or bylaw changes. There's no other event like CityVision. Register now!


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Webinar Ahead on Small-Cell Wireless Legislation

Sign up now for the League's Aug. 15 webinar on small-cell wireless legislation that recently passed the General Assembly and learn what it means for local governments. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar, which will begin at 10 a.m.


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Legislators Back at It

Legislators returned to Raleigh on Thursday for a one-day, reconvened legislative session that saw limited action. Two measures approved, though, will affect municipalities, as a bill affecting occupancies taxes in a number of cities and towns gained final approval in the Senate and the House and Senate agreed on a wide-ranging regulatory bill that includes a stormwater change.

Legislators had decided in June to reconvene on the set date to address any vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper and also while awaiting court instruction on drawing new legislative districts. Despite those intentions, they declined to take up any vetoes because a number of absences made any override votes more unpredictable. Instead, they will reconvene again on Aug. 18.

The Senate did give final approval to SB 552 Omnibus Local Occupancy Tax, legislation that will allow the City of Jacksonville to put more proceeds from local occupancy taxes toward infrastructure. It also allows the City of Sanford and the Town of Saluda to begin charging occupancy taxes. The changes allowing more flexibility in occupancy tax spending align with an advocacy goal of cities and towns to allow more of those dollars to be spent on infrastructure -- rather than putting most of the money toward promotional campaigns -- that help bring tourism dollars to a community. The House and Senate agreed on the compromise bill back in June, but procedurally the Senate ran out of time before casting a second and final vote on the compromise.

A provision in SB 16 Business & Agency Reg. Reform Act of 2017 -- with a final version approved by the House and Senate on Thursday -- would clarify state stormwater rules with language stating that, if an existing development is redeveloped, stormwater mitigation would apply only to the additional impervious surface. Read media coverage of the one-day session here.


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Governor Addresses Final Bills

Gov. Roy Cooper has cleared his desk of bills in-waiting, at least those approved before Thursday's one-day reconvened legislative session. On Monday, his office gave notice that he had let the last four remaining bills become law without his signature. None dealt with municipal issues. They included HB 527 Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech, which with Gov. Cooper took issue over the concept of uniform policy for university campus expression rather than let the universities' own respective leaders decide. Still, he did not veto the legislation.

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Senator Tucker Announces Retirement

Sen. Tommy Tucker of Waxhaw announced on Thursday that he would not seek re-election to his General Assembly seat. In a statement shared by news outlets on social media, the co-chairman of the chamber's Finance Committee said he has "long believed in term limits for judges and politicians. After serving four terms in the N.C. Senate, the time has come for me to allow others to step in and serve Union County and our state." Senator Tucker was first elected in 2010. His legislative committee memberships also include Senate Rules and the Joint Legislative Committee on Local Government.

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SWIA Approves $168.5M in Available Funds

Local governments are benefiting from the announcement of more than $168.5 million in grants and loans that the State Water Infrastructure Authority has approved for 62 drinking-water and wastewater projects. They're part of the second of three rounds of Connect NC bond money, according to a press release detailing the aid. "The need for improvement, rehabilitation and replacement of water systems statewide is great," Kim Colson, director of DEQ’s water infrastructure division, said. "Without this funding, many communities could not even begin to start working on their infrastructure problems."


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Podcast Features Mayors Matheny, Brown, Scott and Saffo

 

Don your headphones and load up a brand new episode of Municipal Equation. The rundown: If we gather up a bunch of "State of the City" addresses from mayors across the U.S. and overlap them, what words and themes do you think will line up? Well, the National League of Cities does that kind of work, and it's enlightening. We talk with NLC about its latest examination to find out what today's mayors are saying in chorus and why -- after a chat about a rare total solar eclipse over the gem-studded mountain town of Franklin. A few North Carolina mayors make an appearance as well -- Bob Scott of Franklin, Bill Saffo of Wilmington and Gloristine Brown of Bethel join League President Bob Matheny, mayor of Zebulon, to discuss the challenges and changes in their towns. That's all on the latest episode of Municipal Equation, the League's biweekly podcast about cities and towns in changing times. Subscribe on iTunes (and leave a friendly review).


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New CDBG Small Biz Disaster Recovery Funds Available

The N.C. Department of Commerce has issued a memo on the availability of $10 million in Community Development Block Grant funds for small businesses in areas hit by Hurricane Matthew last year, "especially the four most impacted counties: Robeson, Cumberland, Edgecombe, and Wayne." Eligible applicants include local government entities, interested small-business organizations, nonprofit small-business lending intermediaries (including community development financial institutions), and formal partnerships between such entities.

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Concord's Mayor Padgett Appointed to LGC

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett has been appointed to the Local Government Commission, an appointment made by Gov. Roy Cooper. Mayor Padgett, in a news release from the city, called it an honor. "I look forward having a role in upholding the long tradition of fiscal responsibility and good government in North Carolina, embodied every day by the 13,000 units of local government ranging from cities and counties to boards of education, special districts, and authorities." According to the release, Mayor Padgett, who has served in that office since 2001 following many years on the city council, will leave his mayoral seat this December. The League congratulates him on the appointment.

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NLC Launches Local Climate Solutions Program

The National League of Cities (NLC) on Wednesday announced a new program "aimed at elevating local climate engagement activities" in cities and towns across the U.S. It's part of NLC's Sustainable Cities Institute, which helps municipalities identify and implement measures for clean air, water and land. The NLC announcement about the new program, launched in partnership with ecoAmerica, provides details on the tools and resources offered. They include, "Let's Talk Communities & Climate: Communication Guidance for City and Community Leaders."

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Science Panel on Chemicals and Public Health Expanded

As communities in the state's southeast deal with the discovery of a unexpected compound called GenX in public water supplies, a state science panel focused on protecting the public and environment from new or unregulated chemicals has expanded, according to Gov. Roy Cooper's administration. "We are taking every necessary step to protect public health and the quality of our water and air by addressing emerging chemicals of concern such as GenX and hexavalent chromium," N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary Michael Regan said in the announcement triggered by action from the governor. "This panel will provide the state with much-needed scientific expertise to confront these issues." The panel, called the Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board, will expand from eight to 11 members. Its duties will include performing or recommending reviews and evaluations of contaminants released into the environment and giving input to state health officials as the agency sets health goals for emerging contaminants. The panel's new charter offers full details.