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League Members Approve Priorities for 2017-18 Legislative Session 

By Scott Mooneyham, NCLM Director of Public Affairs

The decision to hold this year’s Advocacy Goals Conference in conjunction with the League’s annual conference, CityVision 2016 Accelerate!, led to a big increase in participation, as more than 200 municipal officials representing more than 100 member cities and towns set priorities for the 2017-18 legislative biennium.

Taking place in Raleigh on a Sunday afternoon in late October, the Advocacy Goals Conference resulted in the approval of 15 legislative goals, with several focused on the significant revenue challenges facing municipalities.

The approval of the goals marked the culmination of more than six months of work by the League’s four policy committees, which individually are made up of dozens of municipal officials from around the state, as well as the League’s Board of Directors and general membership.

Revenue-related priorities approved by League members include providing municipalities with additional locally-controlled revenue options, revising the state tier structure that measures local economic distress and affects grant 

availability, and seeking more state-level funding for municipal infrastructure needs.

Conference attendees also agreed on a handful of goals intended to preserve municipal authority. Those goals include opposing any legislation that interferes with local management or ownership of local assets, supporting legislation providing for municipal elections to be determined by local municipal authority, and supporting municipal authority regarding municipal personnel issues.

Outgoing NCLM President Lestine Hutchens, mayor of Elkin, noted that the 3 million people expected to move to North Carolina over the next 15 years will largely be moving into the state’s cities.

"We have to prepare, and to do so, we have to show our legislators and show 

our citizens why all cities and towns need the revenue and the authority to serve our people," Mayor Hutchens said.

With the passage of the next biennium’s advocacy goals, League staff will now begin to prepare to pursue these goals before state lawmakers, making these priorities known to them and seeking legislation that incorporates them.

The League public and government affairs team thanks all of the League members who participated in this process, and looks forward to working with all of you as we, together, advocate on behalf of North Carolina cities and towns in the coming year.

The goals, as approved, follow:

Fiscal Health and Economic Growth

  • Seek legislation to provide municipalities with additional locally-controlled revenue options.
  • Seek legislation to allow room occupancy tax revenues to be used to fund municipal service and infrastructure costs in order to support travel and tourism.
  • Seek legislation to alter the current statutes governing distribution of local sales taxes by requiring a one-year delay in implementation when a county or the legislature changes its method of distributing sales tax revenue.
  • Support legislation that will provide sufficient funding at the state level for incentive programs such as a competitive film incentive program, robust state historic preservation tax credits, and the Main Street Solutions fund necessary to grow jobs and the economy.
  • Support legislation to revise the tier method of measuring levels of economic distress to focus on the causes of distress and taking sub-county data into account.
  • Support legislation to bolster the state’s mental health and intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) treatment resources, including resources and solutions to lessen the strain on sworn law enforcement officers when providing custody of individuals in crisis.
  • Support legislation which defends the fiscal integrity of the Local Government Employees’ Retirement System and its defined benefit structure, promotes reasonable pension reforms that are prospective in nature, and meets the needs of local employees, employers, and retirees.

Municipal Authority

  • Support municipal authority over municipal personnel issues.
  • Support legislation that provides for municipal elections to be determined by local municipal authority.
  • Oppose legislation that interferes with local management or ownership of local assets.

Public Infrastructure

  • Seek legislation eliminating municipalities’ repayment of water- and sewer- growth related fees that have been previously collected, and providing municipalities with the authority to assess the level of fees and charges necessary for continued growth and economic development in the future.
  • Seek legislative and administrative changes to the STIP process that give local priorities increased weight in the allocation of transportation funds.
  • Seek legislation to increase state-level funding for municipal infrastructure needs.
  • Support legislation that recognizes that management of a public utility is best determined by the local owning entity due to their consideration of financing, engineering, and regulatory responsibilities.

Federal

  • Seek opportunities to support the passage of the federal e-fairness legislation.