Skip to Main Content

 April 9 

This week's developments

Budget action in the Senate.  

The NC Senate presented its $20.5 billion version of the budget this week, approved it on second reading on Wednesday, and is expected to give it final approval today before sending it to the House. For cities and towns, there is no reduction in state shared municipal revenues, hold harmless payments, or other statutory payments. Budget closes the estimated $3.4 billion gap with spending cuts, federal stimulus money, fee increases, and more than $500 million in unspecified tax increases. Tax changes will be unveiled in a separate bill, possibly next week, and could affect municipal revenues.

Senate includes $3 million for Main Street Solutions program to provide downtown improvement grants to Tier 2 and 3 cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000. Reprograms $84 million in secondary road funding to state system maintenance. Continues receipt funding for implementation of the combined motor vehicle registration and tax collection system. Includes funding for the state match for federal water and sewer funds. Reduces appropriation to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund by five percent in both years of the biennium. Provides $19 million in each year of the biennium to the Rural Center for infrastructure program, reuse of vacant properties, and economic development. Provides for a gang prevention and intervention pilot program.

Proposal would limit increases in property tax value.

HB 1130 – Senior Proposition 13 Property Tax Relief freezes the appraised value of the permanent residences of qualifying senior citizens. Citizens age 70 or older who have lived in their residence for at least five years would qualify for this new senior homestead property tax relief. Calls for a constitutional amendment, subject to a referendum, to authorize the necessary statutory changes. Fiscal impact on local governments likely to be substantial.

Attorneys' fees in public records cases.

HB 1134 – Open Government Act would require the awarding of attorneys' fees to anyone who "substantially prevails" in a public records case against a city, county, or the state. Would delete the current standard, which allows the judge to determine if the governmental unit acted with substantial justification or if other circumstances would make the award of fees unjust. Would provide instead that the governmental unit must act in reliance on a judgment or court order, an appellate court opinion or a written opinion or decision of the Attorney General. Also creates the Open Government Unit in the Attorney General's office to serve as a mediator in resolving public records and open meetings disputes. The League has a number of concerns about this bill and is working with the sponsor to address.

Bill to allow payroll deduction of union dues.

HB 1033 – Firefighter/EMS Payroll Deduction would require cities and towns to deduct from the paychecks of professional firefighters and EMS workers dues for unions or organizations that represent the majority of employees in the department. Also mandates deductions from law enforcement officers' paychecks for dues for any law enforcement organization with at least 2,000 members statewide, or any employee organization with a membership of at least 2,000 statewide, at least 500 of whom are law enforcement officers. League opposes.

 

Talk to your congressional representatives about these issues

Congress is on spring recess April 6 – 17. Great opportunity to visit with members while they are in the district/state.

Oppose Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (HR 413)
What this bill would do: Mandates that municipalities must engage in collective bargaining with union representatives of public safety employees (law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services). Public sector collective bargaining is prohibited in NC and this would override state legislation.
Actions needed: Please encourage all members of the House and both Senators to oppose.

Oppose Employee "Free Choice" Act of 2009 (S 560/HR 1409) – Also known as "card check"
What this bill would do: Eliminate the secret ballot process for establishing unions and replace it with a process where a majority of employees simply sign a card and a union is established. The card check process allows unreasonable influence on employees to support unionization. Low level of unionization has contributed to North Carolina's economic growth.
Actions needed: Please encourage all members of the House and both Senators to oppose.

 

Federal Stimulus Spotlight

N.C. stimulus statewide meetings

The NC Office of Economic Recovery & Investment, the state's federal stimulus oversight and coordinating agency, plans to hold the first of a series of statewide meetings on April 16 in Winston-Salem at 3:00 pm. The location has not yet been announced, but this town hall-style meeting will be covered by national media and feature Governor Bev Perdue. Stay tuned next week for more details about this meeting. Information about future meetings across the state is anticipated soon. ...

Local government stimulus workgroups

The NC Office of Economic Recovery & Investment is forming a local government stimulus advisory group. This group, comprised of city and county managers, will advise the governor on policy decisions being made with respect to distribution of stimulus funding in various program areas. The League will remain in close touch with the Governor's staff to ensure our municipal perspective is heard. ...

Get updated stimulus information

The UNC-CH School of Government has established a listserv for elected and appointed officials to share federal stimulus information. To register for the listserv, please visit http://www.sog.unc.edu/listservs.html

 

Action Items

Contact your legislators in the next few days about these issues...

Oppose SB 1004, the "Block Broadband from N.C. Communities" bill
What the bill would do: Sets requirements that would prohibit cities and towns from providing needed phone, cable television or high-speed Internet to their residents because of lack of coverage from private providers. Hinders economic development planning by shutting down a town's ability to provide fiber optic network as part of the infrastructure necessary for public safety needs and job development. Prohibits cities and towns from receiving funds from the $4.7 billion available from the federal stimulus package for development of rural communications infrastructure.
Breaking News Update: Coalition members and representatives met with Senator Hoyle today. He is interested in hearing our concerns and working with us. He also expressed support for cities and towns in their efforts to secure broadband funding from the federal stimulus package.
Sponsors: Sens. David Hoyle, Debbie Clary
Status: Senate Commerce Committee
Actions needed: Explain to your legislators how bill affects communications and public safety services to your residents and businesses and affects your town's economic future. Ask your legislators to strongly oppose. Municipal officials must have ability to make managerial, financial and operational decisions on municipal services that benefit their residents and make wise investments in their community's future. If you are interested in working with the already large coalition the League has formed to oppose this bill, please contact Jennifer Webb at jwebb@nclm.org or 919-715-1726.

 

Oppose SB 1001— Transportation Corridor Mapping changes (HB 881)
What the bill would do: Could result in the significant transfer of state-maintained roads to cities and towns. NC DOT would reclassify all roads and highways in its system and only major collectors, arterials or interstate routes would remain state system roads. Bills also divide Powell Bill into two payments in December and June of each year.
Sponsors: Sen. Clark Jenkins/Rep. Nelson Cole
Status: Senate Commerce Committee/House Transportation Committee
Actions needed : Please discuss with your legislators your opposition to transferring responsibility for state roads to cities and towns. League opposes and will work with bill sponsors on municipal concerns. Also a priority of the Metropolitan Mayors' Coalition.

 

Support HB 148 – Congestion Relief / Intermodal Transport Fund
What the bill would do: Allow counties to hold referenda on local option sales tax to support public transportation.
Sponsors: Reps. Becky Carney, Lucy Allen, Deborah Ross, Bill McGee
Status : Favorable report from House Transportation; to be heard in House Finance April 15
Actions needed : Ask your representatives to support. For additional information, go to: http://www.ncgo.org

 

Support HB 727/SB 472 — Annexation Changes – now in House Judiciary II and Senate Finance
What the bills would do: Enact 20 changes to address legitimate concerns of citizens while retaining fairness of annexation for in-town residents and annexation as tool for managing growth.
Sponsors: Reps. Love, Starnes, Allen, K. Alexander; Sens. Rand, Malone
Status: House annexation bills, including HB 727, have been referred to the House Judiciary II Committee. Senate annexation bills, including SB 472, have been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.
Actions Needed: Support your in-town residents as they come to Raleigh to express their support for annexation and fairness. Contact House Speaker Joe Hackney (919-733-3451) and Rep. Hugh Holliman (919-715-0873) and members of the House Judiciary II and the Senate Finance committees. Ask them to support HB 727 and SB 472 as the legislation to revise the state's annexation statutes. Explain why a vote by annexed residents is not right for North Carolina. See Legislative Action Center for more information.

 

Bill Summaries