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A Note From Paul Meyer, League Director of Governmental Affairs

On behalf of myself and the members of the League's Governmental Affairs Team, thank you to the more than 450 municipal officials that made Town Hall Day 2013 an extraordinary success. Our thanks also go to the many statewide officials, legislators, and legislative staff who took time from their busy schedules to meet with city and town representatives and discuss the issues important to them.

We were honored to be joined in the afternoon by Governor Pat McCrory. As the former mayor of the City of Charlotte, Gov. McCrory has a keen understanding of the issues important to cities and towns, and he addressed many of them in his remarks and in the question and answer session he conducted with city officials. We appreciate the Governor staying overtime to answer all of our attendees' questions. The Governor also noted that he had never been invited to the Governor's Mansion during his time as mayor of Charlotte, and he extended an invitation for all of the city and town officials to join him there during our next gathering. We look forward to taking the Governor up on his offer and continuing to work closely with him on issues important to cities and towns.

We were also pleased to be joined by State Treasurer Janet Cowell, a former City of Raleigh Councilwoman herself. Treasurer Cowell shared important perspective on the need for stability and predictability in terms of municipal assets and agreements and the importance of those components in terms of how North Carolina is viewed as a place to do business. Two other former city officials from the executive branch -- Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, a former Salisbury mayor, and the Governor's Chief of Staff Thomas Stith, a former Durham City Councilman -- also addressed Town Hall Day attendees, and we appreciate their time as well.

On the legislative side of things, city and town officials engaged in a robust discussion with two members of the General Assembly leadership, House Republican Conference Leader Ruth Samuelson and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger. Both Rep. Samuelson and President Pro Tem Berger addressed attendees and then fielded questions on the key issues for city officials, including tax reform, extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), and municipal control of utilities and assets. (Information on all of these issues is available here on the League website.) Key to those discussions was how the General Assembly and all North Carolina municipalities could work together for the betterment of the state. We thank Rep. Samuelson and President Pro Tem Berger for the frank and open discussion and hope to continue the dialogue on these issues and many more over the course of the legislative session. Many more legislators met individually with city representatives from their districts, and we thank all of them for their time as well.

Finally, thank you to all of the city and town officials who joined us for Town Hall Day, not just for making the day successful, but for engaging with your legislators on a daily basis through emails, phone calls and personal visits. We are stronger together.

Paul Meyer, Director Governmental Affairs

Local Coverage of the Day's Events:

News 14: Local Leaders look for McCrory's support in tug-of-war with state lawmakers

WRAL: Big changes coming to NC, McCrory says


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Treasurer Raises Concerns About Charlotte Airport Bill

A letter from the Office of the State Treasurer this week indicated that a legislative transfer of ownership of the Charlotte airport could increase the cost of borrowing for all cities across North Carolina. The letter to Sen. Bob Rucho, the primary sponsor of SB 81 Charlotte Regional Airport Authority -- which would transfer ownership of Charlotte Douglas International Airport from the City of Charlotte to a newly-established Charlotte Regional Airport Authority -- indicated that transferring ownership of the airport could result in prolonged and expensive litigation. The uncertainties created by such a move could also undermine the ability of other cities and towns to issue bonds because they would have to be disclosed to potential lenders in the future, impacting borrowing costs and desirability. The letter was based on the opinion of outside bond counsel obtained by the Treasurer's office. In an article in the Charlotte Observer supporters of the legislation downplayed the concerns. SB 81 is currently scheduled to be discussed in the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday. Contact: Paul Meyer


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Privilege License Elimination Discussed

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday discussed a bill that would eliminate cities’ ability to levy local privilege license taxes. SB 363 Business Tax Reductions and Reforms would replace the current system of state and local franchise and privilege taxes with a single statewide privilege tax system that would apply to all businesses. League Director of Research and Policy Analysis Karl Knapp addressed the Committee, noting that SB 363 would eliminate one of cities’ few locally-controlled sources of revenue and cost municipalities across the state at least $60 million in revenue annually. The League has been proposing reforms since 2008 to reduce the complexity and inequity of the current privilege license tax structure and continues to support reform of the current system rather than repeal. Senators in the Committee hearing indicated that future elements of tax reform would more than make up for the loss of privilege tax revenue, but no details on those future proposals was provided. The bill was up for discussion only and was not voted on by the Committee. Contact: Karl Knapp


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Great Places in N.C. Honored

The North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-NC) held a press conference yesterday to honor the seven locations it recognized as "Great Places" in 2013. Legislators and local officials in town for Town Hall Day were on hand to speak about their local Great Places and what makes them special. APA-NC's expert panelists selected four "Great Main Streets" in the mountains, Piedmont, and coast, and one "Great Place in the Making," while online voters selected a Great Main Street and a Great Neighborhood for Kids. This year's honorees are as follows:

  • Blowing Rock's Main Street
  • Concord's Union Street (People's Choice: Great Main Street)
  • Clayton's Riverwood neighborhood (People's Choice: Great Neighborhood)
  • Davidson's Main Street
  • Elkin's Main Street (Great Place in the Making)
  • Fayetteville's Hay Street
  • Raleigh's Fayetteville Street

Congratulations to all of this year's nominees, and to all the hard-working city and town officials who help make their communities great places for their citizens to be. Contact: Paul Meyer