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League Bulletin

January 25, 2019

WHAT HAPPENED: At the federal level, the partial government shutdown crossed into its 35th day on Friday as congressional leaders tried to reach consensus. At the state level, General Assembly members were moving or settling into their legislative offices in Raleigh for the long session about to begin.
WHAT IT MEANS: Speaking of the state legisalture, we're getting to know which members will serve on the chambers' various committees. House Speaker Tim Moore on Friday released a final roster, filling out committees ranging from Aging to Wildlife Resources. Rep. David Lewis of Dunn will continue to lead the House Rules Committee. “I appreciate the hard work of so many House members and staff to prepare for another successful session of the General Assembly,” Speaker Moore said. Senate leader Phil Berger released committee assignments for his chamber earlier this month​
ON TAP: The long session will kick off on Wednesday, Jan. 30. 
THE SKINNY: There's not much else to say at this point. Organizational work at the legislature appears to be ahead of past years' schedules, lawmakers are in position, and we look forward to working with them as the 2019 session lifts off. 

Kicking off Monday is a statewide series of conversations about better broadband access for your community. It's called Let's Connect, and it's sponsored by the League, the Minneapolis, Minn.-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance and N.C. Broadband Matters. Join your neighbors, community leaders, local internet service providers and national experts for the conversation about improving internet access in our state. Stops are scheduled for Jan. 28 in Albemarle​, Jan. 29 in Fuquay-Varina and Jan. 30 in Jacksonville. Click here​​ for location specifics and registration.
In related news, the Jacksonville Daily News published an opinion piece today (Friday) saying the region "needs a broadband boost." "With the combined efforts of elected officials, local leaders, rural cooperatives, Internet service providers, and engaged residents, communities throughout the state can make sure they aren’t left behind in an increasingly connected world," the newspaper piece says before pitching Let's Connect as a way to start the conversation. 

The Board of Trustees of the Local Government Employees’ Retirement System (LGERS) will meet on Thursday for a regular meeting​. Among agenda items: determining future employer contribution rates for the system. Based on information that will be provided to the board – including documents that can be viewed here and here – the board will consider options that could push future employer contribution rates for general employees above 13 percent by fiscal year 2024-25.
Despite local governments providing contributions in excess of what was required to fully fund the system in recent years, a combination of factors – including a projected -1.5 percent return on system investments in 2018 – are forecasted to result in a system funding shortfall in future years. Due to this shortfall, the board will consider options that will amend the Employer Contribution Rate Stabilization Policy (ECRSP), which was approved in 2016 with League support and until now has allowed for full funding of the system.
If the board goes with the proposed option that would move away from the ECRSP, the employer contribution rate for general employees in fiscal year 2019-20 is projected to be 8.95 percent. That's still a projection at this point; the League will keep you updated on the board’s decision and communicate any information on employer contribution rates as soon as it is available.

With the 2019 Town & State Dinner less than a month away, now is the time to book your reservation​, as seats are filling quickly. Scheduled for Feb. 20 in Raleigh, the Town & State Dinner is where municipal officials and state legislators will break bread, network, strengthen relationships and discuss opportunties to work together for a better North Carolina. Municipal officials: be sure to personally invite your legislator. The day will also include informational sessions on broadband access, affordable housing, and legislative happenings. Don't wait; register now​

The latest list of state board and commission appointments from the governor's office includes local government experience. Elon Town Manager Richard J. White has been named to the Code Officials Qualification Board in a seat reserved for a municipal manager. Appointed to the Veterans Affairs Commission is Davidson Town Commissioner Jane Campbell, who served more than 25 years in the Navy, according to the governor's office. Nels Roseland, a former Cary Town Council member (and past deputy chief of staff and chief financial officer at the N.C. Attorney General's Office) has been named to the Supplemental Retirement Board of Trustees. Asheville Fire Department Captain Scott Mullins is now on the Fire and Rescue Commission. And now on the Forestry Council is Caitlin Burke, who otherwise serves on Town of Cary boards related to the environment and urban forestry. Click here for the full list of recent appointments.

The state is investing $260,000 into Downtown Strong, a component of Gov. Roy Cooper's Hometown Strong initiative announced last year. Downtown Strong is a "program to build local government capacity by providing economic development planning and revitalization resources and guidance," explained a press release from the N.C. Department of Commerce. It adds that the program, run by the state's Main Street and Rural Planning Center, is built on feedback from local-level rural leaders. "Downtown Strong will provide planning and revitalization expertise to communities across North Carolina that otherwise might not have access to these resources," said Gov. Cooper. Local governments interested can reach out to Main Street and Rural Planning Center Director Liz Parham at​. Click here for more details.

The U.S. Census Bureau has identified five barriers that may hinder participation in the 2020 Census, the decennial headcount that will work as a vital component in the allocation of federal resources to communities, including planning and economic development dollars. In a new report of research into public perceptions and circumstances, the Bureau listed the following potential problems in how individuals may regard the decennial headcount: concerns with data confidentiality or privacy; fear of repercussions for answering a question a certain way; distrust in government; a feeling that one's individual participation won't matter; and a belief that one's participation won't bring personal benefit. Knowing these possible barriers helps the Bureau in its public education efforts. “Every part of the 2020 Census is grounded in research,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said. “An accurate and complete census relies on U.S. households responding to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail, and the communications campaign is key to achieving that.” The report also says that less than half of respondents surveyed were aware that census results factor in to community funding. Click here for the full report and other standout findings, including motivators for participation. Click here​ to learn more about the role of local leaders in the effort toward a complete count.

Now available is the League's most recent Quarterly Revenue Report, available in a new interactive format as well as a PDF. Both are housed on the League’s website​. The latest report examines state-collected local revenues received by local governments for the first quarter of the 2018-2019 fiscal year. These reports provide a snapshot of quarterly trends in state-collected local revenues and supplement the League’s Annual Revenue Projection, coming in March. If you have any questions regarding the Revenue Reports or Revenue Projections, please contact League Research Strategist Caitlin Saunders​.