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2013-2014 Annual Report Summary 

The League released the 2013-2014 Annual Report at the CityVision 2014 in October.  Below are the key accomplishments from the two main program areas, advocacy and insurance, and an update on the strategic planning and visioning process.  For the full report, which includes financial information and accomplishments from the legal and communications and member relations departments, visit click here. You may also contact Angel Sutton at (919) 715-2903 to receive a hard copy of the report.

Strategic Planning and Visioning

The past year has been a year of change and improvement for the North Carolina League of Municipalities.  In June 2013, Ellis Hankins announced his retirement after serving more than 15 years as Executive Director. In November 2013, the Board of Directors appointed Paul Meyer as the organization’s next Executive Director.  Meyer, who was previously the League’s Director of Governmental Affairs, is only the organization’s sixth full-time Executive Director.

One of Meyer’s first goals as Executive Director is to determine the vision for cities and towns in our state, and by extension, how the League can help achieve that vision. Under the direction of our Board of Directors, the League is working with the University of North Carolina School of Government on a strategic process will help determine what actions are necessary to position municipalities to achieve the vision they have designed and desire for success in the near future and beyond to 2030.

The process will engage a wide variety of stakeholders and is outward-facing, inclusive, expansive and transparent.  City officials, strategic business community partners, legislators, county officials and League staff will all be engaged in this discussion so that we can forecast possible scenarios for city government and determine what future roles and functions cities should play in helping move North Carolina forward.

The first key input session came with our Board of Directors at the August Board Meeting. The Board had a great discussion where they not only offered their thoughts on their vision for cities and towns but provided key feedback that will help shape the rest of the process moving forward.  CityVision 2014: Charting our Tomorrow provides numerous opportunities for input to the process through general sessions, concurrent sessions and other meetings. The process will continue over the next few months.

The School of Government will present its results and recommendations to the Board of Directors in May 2015.

Advocacy          

The League enjoyed many lobbying successes in 2014, many of which were due to grassroots lobbying efforts from the League’s membership.

The 170 members of the Legislative Action Committees and Regulatory Action Committee met in the winter and spring of 2014 to reassess the goals passed at the beginning of the 2013-14 biennium. The League Board of Directors approved the revised goals in the spring, the League went into the session with 27 legislative goals and four regulatory goals. These goals served as guideposts for League staff as they lobbied legislators on behalf of cities and towns. They also served to help explain and define to legislators the League’s positions as critical pieces of legislation moved through the General Assembly.

By the time the legislative session officially began on May 14, it was already clear that legislators were poised to make changes to the local business privilege license tax. The League and its members had adopted privilege license reform as a goal. It had been a primary focus of a legislative study committee, and House members wasted little time approving legislation that would have capped the tax for each business at no more than $100.

Instead, a Senate proposal that continued the tax with limited changes in the 2014-15 fiscal year, but would repeal it for the 2015-16 fiscal year, ultimately became law. The League, though, secured commitments from legislative leaders and Governor Pat McCrory to work with cities to find a replacement source of revenue in the coming year.

There were significant successes throughout the session, including:

  • A de facto moratorium on local environmental ordinances, adopted a year earlier as part of a regulatory reform bill, was dropped after municipal officials from around the state and League staff made a persuasive case before and during the session about the unintended and negative consequences of the 2013 provision.
  • The approval of legislation tackling the practice of pension spiking, addressing a League Advocacy Goal intended to strengthen the Local Government Employees Retirement System.
  • Passage of bill that requires mopeds be registered so that cites could better track their operation (a League Advocacy Goal).
  • The defeat of a late-session local option sales tax bill.
  • The removal of a provision that would have imposed a property tax revenue cap on municipalities from hydraulic fracturing legislation.
  • Passage of a modified version of legislation requiring primary 911 centers to have back-up capabilities, but without expensive, new facility requirements.
  • The halting of legislation that would have prohibited local tree ordinances statewide.
  • Passage of legislation expanding the ability of municipalities to use reclaimed water for public water supplies.
  • Elimination of a burdensome E-Verify requirement on smaller local government purchases and contracts. 
  • Outside of the Legislature, the League achieved two significant regulatory goals with the approval, by state and federal environmental officials, of wastewater and storm water-related standards that should provide flexibility to municipalities.

The successes would not have been possible without the 500-plus members who attended Town Hall Day in June, the 170 policy committee members and the numerous other visits made to the General Assembly by League members.

Risk Management Services

Risk Management Services continues to develop value-added enhancements that will ensure the continued strength of the programs.  Highlights include the following:

Financial Performance

Each of the three insurance pools continues to perform well ahead of budget and investment returns have been solid. As was the case last year, the property and liability insurance trust had another excellent year with an increase in net position of $10.5 million. This result was driven not only by the investments but also losses that were well below expectation for 2013-14. The workers’ compensation trust also performed well by adding $5.4 million to the net position. This is indeed excellent considering our loss ratio was 88.6%. Finally, the Health Benefits Trust also had a great year; our net position increased by $2.2 million. The loss ratio ran at 87.3%, which represented a marked improvement from last year. The number of claimants exceeding $50,000 cost as compared to last year is down by 16%.

Mandatory Health Screenings:

We have implemented changes to the Health Benefits Trust that will ultimately help lead to healthier members and fewer claims. Members are now required to complete their age/gender appropriate cancer screening(s) and annual physical.  They are also required to participate in our Personal Care Management program if invited. Failure to complete these screenings in 2014 will result in a 10% surcharge on the individual’s premium beginning July 1, 2015.

RMS Website

Improvements are underway for the RMS section of the www.nclm.org website. The purpose of this initiative is to provide a “homepage” look to the insurance tab of our website so that members may easily access online training resources, request services, report a claim, etc. We are implementing a mobile application for field services and online claims reporting. These tools will make our operations more effective and efficient. Additionally, the site will be built using “responsive design” technology and will be easily viewed whether a member is accessing the site from a desktop computer or a mobile device. This project is underway and will conclude by the end of 2014.

Cyber Security

We have developed a risk management plan to assist our members in assessing and managing cyber risk. This has entailed development of a “Best Practices Manual,” an employee training guide, an overview of vulnerabilities based on 8 member assessments, development of an insurance program for those wishing to purchase coverage, launch of “eRisk Hub” (a website that provides members in the property/liability insurance trust a tool box of resources to assist in assessing your risk, developing security policies, next steps should you discover or suspect a breach, and much more.) We also conducted 4 regional half-day training workshops with presentations by subject matter expert speakers.

Land Use Training

We have contracted with the UNC School of Government to compete 12 land use training modules for elected and appointed officials. Six of these training modules have been uploaded to our online training program, branded “Safety Catch.” Land use claims are usually the result of poor decision-making, these programs educate our members on statutory requirements and is scenario based. Our plan is to complete the remaining modules by June 2015. Meanwhile, members may take the training that has been uploaded.

Police Driver Training

In May we conducted our second annual police driver training program for 18 of our property/liability participants. The training was a success.  Participants in last year’s training are showing positive results: accidents are down by 28% this year for those departments that participated in the training last year.