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Legislative Goals and Issues, 2021-22

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After a lengthy, member-driven process to set Municipal Legislative Goals for the 2021-22 biennium, NCLM has now begun efforts toward achieving these goals​.

On this page, you will find the Municipal Legislative Goals, groupings of issues before the General Assembly and of importance to municipalities, associated bills being considered affecting them, as well as talking points and news items that may help advance League priorities.

Be sure to utilize these resources as you work to ensure that your voice is heard during this legislative session.

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INFRASTRUCTURE​​​​​​ ​

Associated Municipal Legislative Goals 

  • Grant local governments the a​uthority to build broadband infrastructure in order to partner with private providers, and provide additional funding to help close the digital divide.

  • Create a permanent and adequate funding stream for local infrastructure needs.

  • Provide funding to keep aging water and sewer systems financially solvent today and viable for the future.​


​Broadband​

​​Talking Points

  • High-speed broadband and the networks that support it are just as essential today as roads and electricity were in the first half of the 20th century.​
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, high-speed broadband has become even more crucial for schooling, work and health care access.
  • High-speed broadband attracts more capital investment into local economies.​
  • Public-private partnerships allow local governments to enter arrangements in which they lease fiber and other broadband assets to private internet service providers, who would then provide retail service to customers. State policy that better enables these partnerships is critical to closing the digital divide in North Carolina.

Legislative Bill Links: ​

Media Links:



Infrastructure Funding

​​​Talking Points

  • Cities serve as critical funders of infrastructure, but have control over only one major source of revenue to pay for that infrastructure – the property tax.
  • Infrastructure – including water and sewer lines and treatment facilities, and streets – are critical to economic development and job creation.
  • Many cities in the state are growing, creating a constant need for investment to keep pace with population growth; many cities and towns also have aging infrastructure that must be replaced.
  • Creating a more permanent funding stream for local infrastructure, such as a dedicated tax source, would allow for better planning to meet needs.​

Legislative Bill Links: 

Media Links: 


Viable Utilities​

​​​Talking Points

  • According to a state study, North Carolina will need at least $17 billion to meet water and wastewater infrastructure needs over the next two decades.

  • Several dozen towns in the state have financially distressed water or sewer operations, threating the towns' overall financial viability.
  • These stresses to water and sewer operations have coincided with population and job losses in rural areas, leading to an erosion of taxpayer and ratepayer bases.​

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:​

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PUBLIC SAFETY

Associated Legislative Municipal Goals:

  • Improve state-wide funding and support for LEO training focused on use of force, mental health and de-escalation skills.

  • Increase public safety grant funding and expand allowable uses.​


Improved Training​

​​​Talking Points​ 

  • Highly-publicized incidents of police use of force in 2020 have underscored the need for enhanced and expanded law enforcement training.
  • Improved training is needed to build trust and legitimacy in the community while serving the public in a professional and equitable manner.​
  • Numerous studies show that additional and effective training focused on conflict de-escalation can significantly reduce police use of force.​​​

Legislative Bill Links:

Media  Links:

 

Grant Funding

​​​Talking Points​ 

  • Improving policing will require additional public safety grant funding and more flexibility in its uses.​
  • More effective and equitable policing can be achieved by additional funding of community policing programs, as well as putting more dollars toward alternative programs that seek to address mental health calls and other issues through non-uniformed personnel.
  • Additional funding is also needed to meet public safety communication needs.

 

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:

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HOUSING

Associated Municipal Legislative Goals

  • Revitalize vacant and abandoned properties with enhanced legal tools and funding.

  • Increase state and federal funding for affordable housing.


Affordable Housing

Talking Points 

  • The availability of affordable housing is no longer an issue facing only larger cities. A growing number of smaller cities and towns have recognized a lack of affordable housing as major problem facing residents and as an impediment to workforce recruitment. 
  • Ongoing revenue sources to meet affordable housing needs is extremely limited; the two primary state programs to meet those needs – the N.C. Housing Trust Fund and the Workforce Housing Loan Program – have received less than $30 million annually in recent years. 
  • More than one-in-four North Carolina households are considered “cost-burdened" when it comes to paying for housing, meaning they pay at least 30 percent of their income in housing costs. 
  • With funding and additional legal tools, such as those allowing for properties to be more easily condemned and to address multiple heirs, these properties could serve in addressing local housing needs.​

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:

 

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LOCAL REVENUES

Associated Municipal Advocacy Goals: 

  • Secure federal and state aid directly to municipalities to offset all lost revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.​

  • Reduce pressure on property tax payers by expanding locally-controlled options for revenue generation.


Pandemic Economic Effects

Talking Points:

  • Municipalities saw large drops in sales and occupancy taxes and utility revenues last spring; the current surge in the virus is likely to produce more economic disruption and further erosion in revenues.

  • Earlier federal assistance to state and local governments was neither direct nor flexible, preventing revenue holes from being filled.

  • NC municipalities received only a fraction of the federal CARES Act state and local dollars allocated to North Carolina in March.

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:


 

Revenue Options

Talking Points

  • Property taxes remain the primary revenue stream over which municipal governments exercise control.

  • Cities have little or no authority to raise significant revenue in other ways.​ 

  • ​A lack of diverse, local tax options can affect economic growth, as well as cause large swings in revenue based on economic changes.

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:​

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ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT​

Associated Municipal Legislative Goals:

  • Expand incentives and funding for local economic development.

 

Talking Points

  • Funding is simply inadequate in many cities and towns to encourage job growth.
  • A lack of state funding is seen in grants or incentives for major job creation projects as well as programs to boost small business growth.
  • Among the needs are restoring cuts or additional funding for film tax credits, major industrial site development and downtown development.  

Legislative Bill Links:

Media Links:


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EMPLOYMENT POLICIES

Associated Municipal Legislative Goals: 

  • Ensure state funding for any new, state-mandated benefits for municipal employees.​​

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​Talking Points

  • In recent years, legislators have considered additional post-retirement benefits for certain classes of municipal employees.
  • Often, proposed legislation would act as an unfunded mandate on municipalities, as it fails to include a state-funding source. ​
  • Proposals, many focused on firefighter benefits, fail to consider that municipalities already enjoy the authority to provide these benefits individually without legislative action.

Legislative Bill Links: 

Media Links:

 

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CORE MUNICIPAL PRINCIPLES

NCLM's Core Municipal Principles, adopted by the Board of Directors and membership, are principles that serve as a guide in efforts to oppose legislative proposals that would act to undermine our cities and towns. 


The Core Municipal Principles are the following:

  • Preserve Municipal Authority   

  • Protect Local Revenue Streams   

  • Minimize State and Federal Mandates ​

  • Promote Open Government and Ethical Conduct  

  • Limit Imposition of Liability  

  • Support Responsible Growth and Economic Development Policies 

  • Support Fact-based, Equitable, C​ost-effective, Flexible, Achievable Regulatory Solutions 

Learn more about the Core Municipal Principles here​

Bills and potential legislation damaging municipal authority and otherwise running counter to these principles will be listed below, with relevant information.

 

Legislation to Watch

SB 100 Police Funding Protection Act

This bill would reduce state funding for local governments, on a matching percentage basis, whenever municipalities reduce their police budgets by 1 percent or more. 

NCLM Position

    • State officials dictating local budgets undermines the authority of local voters and taxpayers. Local budgets are decided by locally-elected officials responsive to local taxpayers. If those local voters do not like those spending decisions, they can vote those local officials out at the ballot box.

    • A handful of local governments have shifted a small percentage of resources to focus more on mental health responses and alleviate police from duties not traditionally considered law enforcement, but these efforts have not “defunded" police or resulted in threats to public safety. In fact, they have been undertaken to more effectively serve the public in ways that enhance safety.

    • The legislation does not even provide for spikes in police budgets due to spending on equipment, police cars and the like. The result, over time, would likely be the opposite of its sponsors' intent – any police budget increases will be minimal to avoid potential budget decreases in the following year. ​

    • Politically polarized rhetoric around this issue does little to address and may actually harm local approaches to racial equity, overstretched police departments increasingly asked to answer mental health calls and the need for enhanced training. ​

Media Links:

 

HB 119 Property Tax Relief for COVID Affected Bus.

This bill would mandate that local property taxes be deferred for qualifying business that have suffered economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also calls for immediate tax re-evaluations for some properties which saw changed uses due to the pandemic.


​NCLM Position 

  • ​The League's one-pager on this issue ​can be found here.


HB 7 Protect City Employees From Retaliation


NCLM Position 

  • The League's one-pager on this issue ​can be found here.

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