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League Bulletin

April 10, 2020

WHAT HAPPENED: Nearly 4,000 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. At least 80 deaths. Several hundred hospitalized. Almost every county in North Carolina is affected, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. On Thursday, the governor put out another executive order with measures for retailers to follow to further limit chances of community transmission.

WHAT IT MEANS: Policy measures continue changing and new questions continue emerging from a local government standpoint. The League has been hard at advocacy work and intergovernmental communication so municipal officials can focus on their residents and local businesses, but we’ll point out an action area in this Bulletin cities and towns should take up immediately.

ON TAP: Call your legislators now regarding the revenue shortfalls expected in municipal budgets – that’s your action item. You know the situation at home, but read the article below for broader background and context along with info on a COVID-19 response measure from the N.C. General Assembly, expected for a vote at the end of this month.

THE SKINNY: We know you’re swamped in dealing with local matters. That’s what you do. As the news comes in, we’ll continue updating our COVID-19-related resource page,, with blog posts and answers to frequently asked questions to help you out. Conditions will continue changing. Stay informed. 

Please call legislators this weekend regarding the expected revenue shortfalls in municipal budgets. Tell them about what your town has done to support residents and businesses in the COVID-19 crisis, but also share with them that lower tax and utility revenues will mean cuts in the critical areas of public safety and utilities. For more background and League analysis on the fiscal picture for North Carolina cities, please refer to these talking points and this letter sent to legislators this past week. You may also learn more from this Raleigh News & Observer article​, which included the League’s perspective while taking a comprehensive look at how COVID-19 has economically impacted local governments across the state.

State legislators are now planning a COVID-19 response bill, expected to be presented and voted on at the end of this month. To ensure that the needs of cities remained part of that ongoing discussion, the League undertook many activities this week to advance the priorities of city officials. At the legislature, League staff offered four briefings for each legislative caucus and their staff members. These briefings outlined the COVID-19 requests the League made of legislators last week.

Additionally, to bring city officials up to speed on the League’s latest fiscal analysis​ and legislative requests, the League staff held its first video meeting in the new Advancing Advocacy series. This series, to be held every Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. for all League members, focuses on the top-line developments at the state and federal level each week. Each meeting will also include action items and offer direction for city officials to take action and communicate with state and federal decision-makers. Look for an email each week to know the topics that will be discussed, and to receive directions on how to participate.

​As Congress discusses a new round of legislation in response to the COVID 19 outbreak, the League sent a letter this week to members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation outlining the needs of cities and towns as they address the crisis. The letter, sent Thursday by NCLM President William Pitt on behalf of the League’s Board of Directors, noted that federal legislation to date had not addressed the economic effects of the COVID 19 outbreak on municipal budgets. It pointed out that the recently passed federal CARES Act limited funds directed at state and local governments to direct COVID response.

“These facts tell the story of why additional legislation is needed: Sales tax contributes a significant part of a city’s revenue; the median city in North Carolina receives about 28 percent of its revenue from sales tax; that revenue is used to help pay the largest categorical expenses in a city’s general budget -- public safety,” the letter said. It also provided detailed information about how utility revenues, occupancy taxes and potentially delayed payments of some property taxes could affect municipal budgets.

The letter comes as League staff continues to organize virtual meetings with members of North Carolina congressional delegation, including this one ​scheduled with U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield set for next week. Look for more information from the League next week regarding federal outreach and advocacy as we work with you to continue making municipal needs known at the state and federal level. 

​The Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Networks, which the League has worked with on several projects promoting better broadband access, has created a new North Carolina-focused website on the issue and is encouraging North Carolinians to take part on a “speed test” to better document residents’ actual Internet speeds rather than those advertised by providers. The site and speed tests created by the Minneapolis-based organization can be found at The effort, which includes the recent WRAL documentary “Disconnected” that NCLM collaborated on, comes as the League continues to promote the passage of the FIBER NC Act​ to better enable public-private partnerships to improve broadband access.

Meanwhile, former Governor Bev Perdue recently wrote this op-ed appearing on the WRAL website noting the lengths to which public school teachers are having to go to connect with students since schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Perdue says North Carolina needs to come out of the crisis doing better to make their jobs easier by bringing better broadband connection to residents. The opinion piece follows an article on the site from a North Carolina school teacher which goes into detail about her difficulties connecting with students. Accompanying the article, you will see NCLM sponsored content on the issue.

Retails establishments that are permitted to operate under previous COVID-19 measures from state government now must take additional steps to cap the risk of community transmission of the coronavirus and make sure people adhere to social distancing, per a new executive order the governor issued Thursday. Executive Order 131 also seeks to expedite the processing of unemployment insurance claims. For retail establishments, the order “limits retail establishments to no more than 20 percent of the business’s stated fire capacity or five customers for every one thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. Retail locations may choose which of the two calculations on which they base their maximum occupancy. For the square footage calculation, it includes the full footprint of the interior building, and all retail- and non-retail space.” That’s according to an anticipated-questions-and-answers document the governor’s team issued along with the order, which spells out a social distancing requirement as well, along with a number of recommendations for retail spaces. “The Governor expects retail establishments will comply with the Order to ensure the safety of their employees and customers and believes that most of them will,” the document notes. “If necessary, the Order will be enforced by local law enforcement.” Read the full document​ for more, with particulars on how it may affect local orders.

CityVision 2020 has been revamped into a virtual conference, complete with both live and on-demand educational sessions, and the League's annual business meeting—save the date for May 28. Agenda and session details are coming soon, but the business meeting will feature a similar lineup as year's past and will include electronic voting results and a swearing in of the 2020-2021 Board of Directors.


The 2020 Nominating Committee has released a memo to the membership, which outlines the electronic nomination and voting process for this year's unpredictable circumstances. Members seeking a board seat, should submit the Candidate Interest Form by 5 p.m. on April 30. All of the nominating and election information—including candidate profiles—can be seen on the Election Central website,

​At this point, the official U.S. Census Bureau mailers have been received, and communities are self reporting. Across the country, close to half the people have self-reported as of April 6. In North Carolina, unfortunately, that number is only 42.9 percent. Keep up to date on North Carolina's progress here, follow the rankings here, and continue your local efforts to increase the count. The 2020 Census is the first to allow easy response online.