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 March 20 

This week's developments

Budget buzz

  • Gov. Beverly Perdue delivered her budget recommendations to the General Assembly Tuesday. As we wrote on Tuesday, we see no proposed cuts or withholding of municipal revenue sources. Other details:
  • The Governor proposes a $25 million (25 percent) reduction in the appropriation to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for each year of the biennium.
  • Powell Bill revenues are projected to be down, but this is due to decreases in motor fuel taxes and vehicle sale-related revenues;
  • No other major cuts in programs affecting cities and towns yet identified, although there are some unspecified cuts in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Commerce that could potentially have an effect on programs of benefit to cities and towns.
  • Some increased funding:
  • An additional $3 million to expand and for the Main Street Program.
  • Increased federal funding to address gang-related problems and purchase police communications equipment;
  • Proposed increased funding for the state's probation system;
  • This is just the beginning of the budget process. Expect changes. We will monitor process closely. Watch for more information and details . . .

Support Local Government Input to ABC Store Siting.  House Judiciary II Committee this week favorably reported HB 186-Local Government Objections to ABC Stores. Bill allows municipalities to object to the location of ABC stores if municipality has held public hearing, taken evidence and passed resolution objecting to location. League supports bill, which is on House calendar for Monday, March 23. . .

Right to bear arms in parks.  HB 269 – Concealed Handgun Permit Valid in Parks would allow individuals with concealed handgun permits to carry handguns in city and town parks. Previously, city and town officials could adopt local ordinances to prohibit this. League opposes this bill, which is now in the House Judiciary III Committee. The bill will be amended to allow concealed handgun permit holders to carry handguns in state parks as well. . . .

Full retirement with 25 years of service.  Sen. Julia Boseman has introduced SB 624 – 25-Year Law Enforcement Retirement that would allow law enforcement officers to retire with full benefits with 25, rather than 30 years of service. Special separation allowance would be paid at the same time as retirement benefits and until eligible for unreduced Social Security benefits (was age 62). League opposes because the bill sets up special benefits for one class of employees and unduly interferes with local authority to make local personnel decisions. . .

League members heard in Raleigh.  Municipal officials' visits to Raleigh are the most powerful tool to achieve our municipal goals. This week, at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Construction Grants and Loan Division Construction Grants and Loan Division public hearing on federal stimulus criteria in Raleigh, managers from the following cities and towns spoke: Cary, Caswell Beach, Charlotte, Chatham, Creedmoor, Fayetteville, Fremont, Harrisburg, Henderson, Hickory, Knightdale, Liberty, Marion, Wallace, and Warsaw. We thank them for their service and support for all members. Thanks as well to those who visited legislators while in town.

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

Wastewater state revolving fund guidance

Look for guidance on proposed criteria for selection of stimulus projects of the Construction Grants & Loans section of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The section heard comments on the criteria at a public hearing last Tuesday.

Energy efficiency funding

One of the best opportunities for cities and towns to apply for energy efficiency dollars will come with two new energy programs. The U.S. Department of Energy and N.C. State Energy Office currently are determining how funds will be distributed. League staff members are working for the most equitable allocation of funding…

Get updated information

The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government has established a listserv for elected and appointed officials to share federal stimulus information. Register for the listserv.

Regulatory Update

DENR permitting One-Stop site

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has created a one-stop site http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/csc/start/overview for its permitting information. The clearinghouse contains information about permit cost and where to send an application…

Energy funding opportunity

The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance requests proposals for cities and counties in the Southeast to create and implement a community energy alliance.  In addition to energy efficiency, the program aims to create jobs and reduce a community's carbon footprint.  Individual awards may not exceed $500,000.  Final proposals are due May 15, 2009.  For more information, view the RFP.

 

Action Items

Contact your legislators about these issues

Support HB 727 -- Annexation Changes
What the bill would do: HB 727, a companion to SB 472 (already introduced), enacts 20 changes to address legitimate concerns of citizens. Retains fairness of annexation for in-town residents and annexation as tool for managing growth. Makes substantial changes in annexation process and communication with citizens, water and sewer extension, and annexation standards and requirements. Example: Provides for towns to annex low-wealth areas that desperately need municipal services but currently do not qualify for annexation. For more information, go here.
Sponsors: Reps. Jimmy Love, Lucy Allen, Kelly Alexander and Edgar Starnes
Actions needed: Ask your representatives to support HB as the bill to revise the state's annexation statutes. Ask your senators to support SB 472.

 

Oppose Bills Restricting Annexation Authority
HB 634, HB 635 and HB 645
What the bills would do: HB 634 –Annexation/Meaningful Services would require complete and operational extension of water mains and sewer lines to property line of each annexed parcel within two years of effective date of annexation and require provision of police, fire, solid waste and street maintenance on effective date of annexation, rather than service on same basis as rest of city or town. HB 635 – Annexation/Restrict Use of Land Bridges would restrict the use of narrow land bridges in city/town initiated annexations. HB 645 – Annexation/Meaningful Services and Oversight, is identical to SB 494, introduced previously by Sen. Larry Shaw.
Sponsors: Rep. Larry Brown (HB 634 and HB 635); Reps. Bruce Goforth, Fred Steen, Nelson Dollar and Larry Brown.
Actions Needed: Oppose. Ask your representatives to support HB 727 instead.

 

Seek Amendments to Annexation Omnibus Bill – SB 711
What the bill would do: Includes many of the League's earlier proposals to the Joint Senate and House Commission on Municipal Annexation. However, bill significantly expands services required of the annexing municipalities, as well as timing and numerous procedural changes to annexation process.
Sponsor: Sen. Dan Clodfelter
Actions Needed: Seek amendments.

 

Oppose SB 536/HB 552 – Goldsboro Deannexation
What the bill would do: Reverse or undo a recent, legal annexation by the city of Goldsboro. Sets significant precedent.
Sponsors: Sen. David Rouzer, Rep. Efton Sager
Actions needed: Ask your legislators to oppose.

 

Oppose SB 600 – Condemnation of Conservation Easements
What bill would do
: Establish a special class of property – conservation easements – for which all public condemnors (including local governments) would have to follow special condemnation procedures and compensation standards different than for other types of property condemned.
Sponsor: Sen. Dan Clodfelter
Actions Needed: Please ask your senators, especially those on the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee, to oppose.
Why: Establishes special rules for one type of property; owners of other types of property may ask for similar considerations. Only applies to public entities, not to private companies with condemnation powers (primarily railroads and utilities).

 

Bill Summaries

ENVIRONMENT

HB 605 -- Coastal Hazards Disclosure
Sponsors: Justice; Harrison
Status: House Environment
Requires disclosure of coastal hazards to prospective purchasers of coastal properties.

HB 613 -- Federal Reservation Statute
Sponsors: Owens; Mobley
Status: House Judiciary I
Provides that the consent of the state is not granted to the United States for acquisition of land for an outlying landing field in a county or counties with no existing military base at which aircraft squadrons are stationed.

HB 643 -- Authorize Aquifer Storage of Reclaimed Water
Sponsors: Tucker
Status: House Water Resources and Infrastructure
Allows DENR to issue permits for systems that inject reclaimed water into an aquifer for temporary storage followed by recovery and beneficial reuse of the water. The EMC is to adopt rules to implement.

SB 636 -- Grant Funds/Relocat Condemn Water Structure
Sponsors: Brown, H.
Status: Senate Agriculture/Environment
Allows the water resources development program to award grants to local governments for the relocation of imminently threatened structures or demolition of condemned structures located in the ocean or inlet hazard areas as delineated by the Division of Coastal Management.

SB 641 --Litter Reduction Act of 2009
Sponsors: Berger, D.
Status: Senate Commerce
Requires deposit on beverage containers and requires redemption centers to accept containers and refund deposits.

INCORPORATIONS

HB 624 -- Incorporate Rougemont
Sponsors: Wilkins
Status: House Local Government I
Incorporates the Town of Rougemont in Durham County, subject to a referendum.

GENERAL GOVERNMENT

HB 644 -- Misdemeanor/Not Produce Public Records
Sponsors: Cleveland; Burr
Status: House Judiciary I
Makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for the custodian of public records to fail to allow a record to be inspected at reasonable times under reasonable supervision or to fail to make copies as promptly as possible upon payment of any fees.

HB 682 -- Adjust Conflict THRESHOLD
Sponsors: Guice
Status: House Judiciary I Bill:   HB 682
Status:   House Judiciary I
Amends “small town” exception to conflict of interest statute to increase the exemption amount to $30,000 for goods and services within a 12-month period and provides for automatic indexing of this amount.

HB 734 -- Open Government/Nondisclosure Penalties
Sponsors: Blust
Status: Filed 3/19/09
Allows successful plaintiff in public records dispute to receive reasonable attorney fees , even if the court finds that the public entity that withheld the records acted with substantial justification in denying access to the records, and even if the court finds circumstances that would make the award of attorneys' fees unjust. Permits a court to find public officials individually liable for civil penalties for failing to provide records without good cause.  

SB 596 -- Filling Vacancies In Local Offices
Sponsors: Clodfelter
Status: Senate State and Local Government
With regard to vacancies in cities that use the partisan method of election, requires the city council to consult the county executive committee of that political party before filling the vacancy. If the party within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy makes 3 or more unranked nominations, the council is to appoint one of the persons recommended. If the party makes fewer than 3 eligible nominations, the council may appoint any person eligible for the office.

SB 618 -- Uuban Area Revitalization Made Uniform
Sponsors: Hartsell
Status: Senate State and Local Government
Amends G.S. 160A-536(c) to remove the population requirement (was 150,000) for cities to be eligible for creating municipal service districts for urban revitalization projects.

SB 653 -- Excuse Govering Body from Voting
Sponsors: Rucho
Status:   Senate State and Local Government
Amends G.S. 160A-75 to allow officials to be excused from voting on matters on which the member believes he or she has a conflict of interest even if the conflict does not in fact exist.

SB 730 -- Local Gov't Official Recuse From Voting
Sponsors: Rucho
Status: Filed 3/19/09
Prohibits city council members from voting on a matter if that member has accepted political contributions totaling more than $50 in an election cycle from an individual with any matter before the board that would result in a direct financial benefit or loss to that individual, unless the member returns the contribution.

to that individual, unless the member returns the contribution.

PUBLIC SAFETY

SB 598 -- Local Supplementation of Judicial Employees
Sponsors: Clodfelter
Status: Senate Judiciary I
Provides that the Administrative Office of the Courts may contract with the governing body of a unit of local government for the provision of local funds to supplement the salaries of Judicial Department employees, other than elected officials and magistrates, who serve the superior court district, district court district, or prosecutorial district containing that unit of local government.

RETIREMENT 

HB 725 -- Purchase Service/Certain Employment
Sponsors : Tucker
Status: Filed 3/19/09
Permits any person vested in the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System to purchase a maximum of 10 years of creditable service for nonqualified employment with an economic development organization that receives at least 50% of its funding from local government.

TAXATION AND FINANCE

SB 698 -- City/County Fee Increase on Internet
Sponsors: Boseman
Status: Filed 3/19/09
Requires local governments to provide electronic notice at least seven days prior to effective date of imposition or increases in rates, fees, charges, or penalties related to local government services or public enterprises.

TRANSPORTATION

HB 569 -- Dwq/Bridge Culvert Standards
Sponsors: Gibson
Status: House Transportation
Requires the Division of Water Quality to allow the use of three-sided, open-bottom, or bottomless culverts throughout the state, when the structures will be located on private property. The Division may not limit use of these structures to locations where they must be tied into bedrock.

SB 635 -- Equity Formula Study Commission
Sponsors: Stein
Status: Senate Rules
Establishes the Joint Legislative Transportation Funding Distribution Formula Study Commission. Includes 2 members representing the Metro Mayors Coalition and 2 members representing the League.  

SB 649 -- Modify Speed  Zone Restrictions
Sponsors: Goss
Status: Senate Commerce
Provides that when a city annexes a road on the state highway system that the speed limit posted at the time of annexation remains in effect until DOT and the city pass concurrent ordinances to change it.