Locally-prioritized road projects would see a boost under a legislative proposal advanced on Monday. The legislation, recommended by an interim House transportation funding committee, would allow the state to borrow up to $3 billion for highway projects that were otherwise unfunded through the state’s data-driven funding formula. Eligible projects would be those ranked as priorities by local officials in the “regional” and “division” tiers of the formula, but which did not rank high enough to receive funding through the standard formula. Non-highway and tolling projects would not be eligible for this funding. Modeled after federal Garvee transportation bonds, this financing idea originated with the N.C. Department of Transportation, which called the effort Build NC. As with Garvee bonds, the state would repay Build NC bonds with future revenues to the state Highway Fund. Numerous stakeholders, including the League, spoke in support of the concept during Monday’s hearing. Read more background on Build NC in the Feb. 9 League Bulletin. Contact: Erin Wynia
Members of an interim House committee voted Tuesday to move forward a comprehensive building inspections proposal, despite numerous questions raised by stakeholders and committee members. The vote kept the proposal eligible for introduction in the upcoming legislative short-session, scheduled to begin May 16, though committee co-chair Rep. Mark Brody called the package “a work in progress” and publicly pledged to continue refining it. Broadly, the proposal sought to hold local inspections departments to strict timelines for conducting inspections, while also creating a new option for contractors to utilize a pool of state inspectors in lieu of local government inspectors. The proposal also contained increased inspections-related reporting requirements for local governments. At the meeting, the League offered comprehensive public comments that flagged issues of concern to cities, joining with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, which also made extensive public comments. Contact: Erin Wynia
Is a lack of high-speed broadband creating headaches for existing businesses and damaging recruitment of new ones in your town? Are school students flocking to your public Wi-Fi hubs to do homework because of inadequate home connections? Are you examining potential cures to broadband gaps, no matter their breadth, in your community? If so, or if you just want to learn more about the fundamentals of community-led broadband, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on the subject. Join NCLM Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia on May 10 at 10 a.m. for the “Community-Led Broadband Basics” webinar. Erin will cover the highlights of the League’s new broadband report, including tips on how to bring broadband networks to your community and how broadband public-private partnerships are working in other areas. Other topics will include: key terms, explanations of technology and the legal landscape in North Carolina. Register in advance. Instructions for joining the webinar will be included in your registration confirmation.
For more about Wynia's work on broadband access, including the report she co-authored, listen to her recent interview with N.C. Policy Watch. The broadband report (found at nclm.org/broadband) continues to receive media coverage and was noted again in a piece published in the News & Observer this week on how communites across the state are trying to bridge "the homework gap."
Outside of property and sales taxes, revenue from electricity sales tax is one of the largest sources of revenue for municipalities statewide. It is also one of the most difficult to forecast, and has varied widely in recent years. In a memo released this week, League Research Strategist Caitlin Saunders takes a closer look at the underlying factors affecting electricity sales tax revenues and what might happen with those revenues in the future. All of the League’s revenue projections-related documents can be found on the NCLM website at https://www.nclm.org/financial-consulting/revenue-forecasts.
Nearly 50 North Carolina communities have earned Main Street America accreditation, reflecting their "exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach," a state Department of Commerce news release said this week. The alphabetized list runs from Albemarle to Wilson. "The communities accredited today have worked with the (state's Main Street & Rural Planning) Center to establish practices that will fuel their efforts to bring jobs and development to their town,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. In fiscal year 2017, North Carolina Main Street programs generated $200 million in local public and private reinvestment, assisted 319 net new business openings, factored in 2,000 net new jobs, led to 259 building rehabs, and measured nearly 140,000 volunteer hours, according to the state.
With spring weather beginning to show a little consistency, it felt like the right time to rebroadcast a listener-favorite episode of Municipal Equation: Bee in the City. We've all heard about the hard times that honeybees are going through and the huge implications for us all. But how do cities fit into all this? There's a surprising compatibility between cities and bees, and a role local governments can play. Is your city a "bee city"? Let us know how and why so we can talk about it on the next episode. Municipal Equation is the League's biweekly podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change. Subscribe on iTunes (and leave a friendly review) or find past episodes at nclm.org/municipalequation. Send feedback and episode ideas to host/producer Ben Brown.