A legislative committee tasked in part with vetting proposals for local government received a primer Wednesday from League Executive Director Paul Meyer on the efforts, goals and responsibilities of today's cities and towns -- notably their investments, partnerships and resourceful thinking toward the creation of jobs and prosperous living. "That's what we do," Meyer told the House State and Local Government Committee, chaired by Reps. Kevin Corbin of Franklin and Harry Warren of Salisbury. The group invited Meyer along with N.C. Association of County Commissioners Executive Director Kevin Leonard for briefings as North Carolina's primary organizations representing local government.
Meyer pointed out that North Carolina's municipalities vary in size and style, from the hundreds of small-population rural communities to dense urban areas. And while local-level issues and priorities vary just as much, what each has in common is that its municipal government is the closet to the people and is in the best position to craft local solutions. Challenges, as referenced in the legislative goals that cities and towns have adopted, include the maintenance or development of necessary, economy-developing infrastructure amid limited budget support, with the property tax rate being the only locally controlled source. While more diverse sources would alleviate strain, municipalities are seeing impressive results from homegrown initiatives, Meyer told the committee, from downtown revitalizations to efforts that support or directly lead to the recruitment of employers -- especially vital for the many communities having to reinvent themselves after mill closures and other industrial losses.
Cities and towns today represent 80 percent of all jobs in the state, Meyer added. Further, 75 percent of all retail sales in North Carolina occur within cities and towns, though only 36 percent of all local sales tax revenue returns to them. North Carolina's cities and towns would like to thank the State and Local Government Committee for the opportunity to provide this and other context and look forward to continuing service as a resource in policymaking and economic development.
The Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee gave its approval to legislation this week that would make some changes to the state’s ABC system but stop well short of privatization. The provision most concerning to local governments would require mergers of local ABC systems in which there were two or more within a county by June 30, 2021. But that provision would not necessarily mean any store closures, and the prospects for its advancement remained uncertain. Other provisions in the bill would give local systems the option to open on Sundays, allow free tastings of liquor at ABC stores and allows local ABC boards to charge delivery fees to mixed beverage permittees to cover delivery costs. The committee’s approval of the bill followed a General Assembly staff presentation examining the ABC system. Contact Demetrius Deloatch