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League Bulletin

March 23, 2018

The League offered numerous policy suggestions to increase North Carolinians’ access to broadband in a report released Wednesday -- "Leaping the Digital Divide: Encouraging Policies and Partnerships ​to Improve Broadband Access Across North Carolina​" -- ​focusing specifically on public-private partnerships. A press conference held Wednesday at the Legislative Building in Raleigh marking the release of the report featured remarks from numerous municipal and state officials, including Rep. John Szoka, League President and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara, Angier Mayor Lew Weatherspoon, and Bolton Clerk Jacquelyn Hampton. They laid out the case for more widespread broadband infrastructure.
“Broadband is crucial 21st century infrastructure, no different than water and sewer, electricity and roads,” Lazzara said. “It is critical that everyone have access to it, and that businesses in towns and cities of all sizes have access to the internet speeds that they require to conduct commerce across the country and around the globe.”
Representative Szoka, who sponsored a measure that would authorize local governments to enter into public-private partnerships for broadband, emphasized his vision for every household and business in the state having access to high-speed internet. "It's not only needed," he said, "it's absolutely necessary that we have to take the actions required to connect to every last house on the last dirt road, from the mountains to the sea in this state, to afford our citizens the oppooruntiy to fully participate in a global economy."
The press event also included comments by League Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia, who co-authored the report along with Joanne Hovis, president of CTC Technology and Energy and a recognized expert on communications policy at the federal, state, and local levels. “Broadband is the infrastructure challenge of our time,” Wynia said. “And we know that communities that have this service can thrive.” She went on to explain that, across the country, broadband partnerships usually take the form of having the public partners build the infrastructure, while the private sector operates the system as the service provider. Such partnerships, she said, draw on the strengths of both sectors in extending service to hard-to-serve areas.
​Media outlets across the state and nationally took an interest in the report and its suggestions for ways to increase broadband access in North Carolina. Read more coverage of the League’s initiative: News & Observer; Route Fifty; WRAL TechWire​; WUNC​; ​North Carolina Health News​; Fayetteville Observer​.

Register now for a League-sponsored forum that will discuss how to bring broadband networks to your community and make it more economically resilient. The April 20 event in Raleigh features an elite group of speakers that includes NCLM broadband report co-author Joanne Hovis​, president of CTC Technology and Energy and a recognized expert on communications policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Gov. Roy Cooper will open the daylong conference, former Gov. James B. Hunt will serve as the keynote speaker, and Rep. Craig Horn will discuss the importance of internet access in our schools. Attendees will benefit from hearing a playbook of actionable steps they can take back home to advance local broadband projects. ​

The League has released its annual memo detailing revenue projections for the coming fiscal year. Projections for all of the major state-collected municipal revenues -- including sales taxes, Powell Bill, electricity and natural gas sales taxes, and more -- are included. The revenue projections, sales tax calculator file, and the League's Basis of Distribution memo can all be found on the League's website. Questions can be directed to Chris Nida or Caitlin Saunders​.

Sixty-six percent of the state's counties grew between 2016 and 2017, beating the national growth average, according to a news release from the governor's office citing recent U.S. Census data. Brunswick County -- home to 19 municipalities -- saw the largest growth rate at nearly 22 percent. The estimates "also highlighted growth in Southern Pines (Moore County) and Dunn (Harnett County)," said the governor's office. "Both cities ranked among the top ten for numeric growth among micropolitan areas in the country, defined by the Census Bureau as urban clusters of between 10,000 and 50,000 residents." The Office of State Budget and Management has more information​

The deal that U.S. House and Senate leaders struck early Friday on the $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill included a lot for municipalities to notice. As reported by the National League of Cities, the proposal maintains or increases funding for vital programs tapped by cities and towns to fund infrastructure, economic development, public safety and more. NLC noted the past several months' lobbying and communications campaigns to preserve Community Development Block Grants, TIGER grants, workforce programs and more. "The spending bill before Congress shows that our federal partners have heard the thousands of city leaders urging them to reject the severe budget cuts proposed by the administration and that were required under sequestration,” said Little Rock, Ark., and NLC President Mark Stodola. The group provides a bulleted list of important provisions from the bill. Route Fifty has additional overall news coverage​ and a more detailed piece about broadband funding​ in the bill. Friday morning, media outlets reported that President Trump signaled he would veto it over disagreement with factors including the bill not fully funding his border-wall plan. The same outlets later reported the president was reversing course and would sign the bill. 

How do dogs figure into economic development? It's no joke. Ask the analysts who take economic vitals from man's best friend. Ask the industries that profit majorly from pet ownership. Or, ask the Town of Benson, which em-barked on a dog-focused project to fetch economic bone-efits. Explained on the latest episode of the Municipal Equation podcast, it's a cool angle on business growth, use of resources and partnerships. Listen now!
Municipal Equation is the League's own podcast about cities and towns in the face of change. It comes out every other week at Have an idea for an episode? Is there a singularly cool story from your municipality that others would enjoy hearing? Let us know. Otherwise, our back catalog of episodes​ is loaded with great, new ideas for cities and towns.
The following notice comes from the State and Local Government Division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer:
"The Uniform Guidance Procurement Requirements are in effect for all fiscal years beginning on or after December 26, 2017, which means fiscal years that began on January 1, and those beginning on April 1, July 1, or October 1, 2018, for NC local governments and public authorities. The new rules have a much wider applicability than most of our State procurement laws, mostly because they apply to the procurement of goods and services, and the dollar thresholds at which documentation requirements kick in are much lower than current State requirements. They apply to purchases funded with federal financial assistance (direct or reimbursed), which includes, but is not limited to, direct grants, USDA grants and loans, CDBG funds, FEMA disaster assistance grants, and the Highway Planning, Research, and Construction program. The requirements apply to any subrecipient of the funds as well. Finally, many of the requirements relate to documentation,including written policies and procedures that units of government expending federal financial assistance are required to have.  
"These requirements are complex and will take some time for units to implement. All units are strongly encouraged to review the requirements and check with their funding agencies if they have specific questions about requirements for specific programs. The punishment for noncompliance can be very harsh. 
"You can access the new memo here​
"Please contact us with any questions at (919)814-4299."
The UNC School of Government has scheduled a webinar​ on the requirements for April 24, 10 a.m. to noon.