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Speaking Out: Advocacy starts with you  

by Ronnie Wall, NCLM President

In December, about 250 of you came to Raleigh to discuss and debate the legislative goals for the 2015-16 biennium. As a result of your efforts, we have 25 legislative, five regulatory and two federal goals that are the basis of our advocacy efforts for the next two years. In addition, we have modernized core municipal principles.

We have a professional governmental affairs staff who are down at the General Assembly day in and day out, but we cannot forget that it is still our job to advocate for cities and towns. Advocacy starts with each of us.

The League has worked diligently over the past several years to improve relationships with legislators. I’m pleased to say that although we still have work to do in this area, we have made tremendous progress.

Having relationships in place will not only help us achieve our legislative goals, but it will help us remain in the discussions on some of the topics that are sure to emerge this session. Tax reform was a big issue in the 2013-14 biennium and will certainly be an issue again in 2015-16. We are in talks with legislators on two other key matters: municipal revenues in light of the pending loss of the privilege license tax and the restoration of historic preservation tax credits. In addition, each session brings unforeseen challenges, and our relationships with legislators put us in a position where we can deal with the unexpected.

We have had two meetings to date to discuss the future of municipal finance. These meetings are intended to further a public conversation about how cities and towns move forward while facing dramatic population shifts and policy changes. The growth of municipalities, combined with a potential loss of revenue, impacts how municipalities turn to finance the services that residents demand and desire. You can learn more about these meetings on page 5.

It is vital that we as municipal officials continue to build relationships with legislators. We must help them understand that economically healthy cities and towns are key to the state’s economic future.

Our largest legislative event, Town Hall Day, will be held on Wednesday, March 18. We need everyone to come to Raleigh and have conversations with legislators. This unified effort shows the strength of our organization and our overall commitment to advancing municipal interests and our state.

It is our job to educate the General Assembly on the needs in our communities when they are in Raleigh and in our hometowns. Legislators have any number of issues in front of them, so we must make sure that we take time to explain the importance of municipal issues and how those issues affect the state’s overall vitality.

I look forward to seeing all of you in Raleigh on March 18 and throughout the session in the halls of the General Assembly. It is a privilege to work with such a talented group of dedicated municipal officials.