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League Bulletin

May 5, 2017

A Senate bill proposing changes to the statewide pension systems, including closing the state and local systems for new employees, received discussion but no vote in committee this week as some lawmakers warned the changes could hamper employee recruitment and have impacts beyond those that the bill seeks to address. SB 467 North Carolina Retirement Reform is expected to undergo additional scrutiny in future committee meetings before it's in a form that senators may vote on, members said. The bill would, as currently written, stand at odds to an advocacy goal that cities and towns set for this year to support legislation that defends the fiscal integrity of the Local Government Employees' Retirement System (LGERS) and its defined benefit structure, promotes reasonable pension reforms that are prospective in nature, and meets the needs of local employees, employers, and retirees.

As news outlets reported this week, the bill would impact state employees, teachers and local government employees who come aboard later than June 30, 2018. Bill sponsor Sen. Andy Wells of Hickory told the committee that the state is carrying a large, unfunded liability in providing benefits to state retirees, and that this bill would address that. But it would also close LGERS for new employees, despite LGERS being funded solely by local governments, their employees and system investment gains, meaning state funds are not at issue with LGERS. The League has asked sponsors to provide an opportunity to gain consensus, gathering opinions for all affected stakeholders prior to such a large policy change. Cities and towns thank Sens. Jay Chaudhuri and Rick Horner for raising issues with the proposal, and the bill's sponsors -- Sens. Wells, Bill Rabon and Ronald Rabin -- for requesting feedback from interested parties before the bill moves further. The bill is currently in the Senate Committee on Pensions and Retirement and Aging. Contact: Sarah Collins

The state pension fund charted a 4.1 percent gain in the first quarter, with assets valued at $92.2 billion, up from the $89.1 billion at the end of 2016. That's according to a news release from the office of State Treasurer Dale Folwell. “Our public equity portfolio did especially well during the first quarter of this year, but fixed-income continues to lag due to historically low interest rates,” Folwell said. “We are focused on reducing complexity and fees in the state pension plans. We also want to gradually lower the expected rate of return to more accurately reflect historical gains.” The pension fund in the 12 months prior to March 31 earned 9.6 percent, while stocks, which make up more than 40 percent of the fund, gained nearly 15 percent. Click here for the full report.

Legislative staff at the General Assembly this week released additional estimates of the impact of SB 126 Change the LOST Adjustment Factor, which the League reported on in this space last week. To review the new estimates, click here. The total impact of SB 126 has not changed from the estimates released last week, though they do differ from estimates released shortly after the bill's filing in February. These new estimates do provide additional details as to the gains and losses that would be incurred if SB 126 were to become law. SB 126 would impact the distribution of a portion of local sales taxes by eliminating adjustment factors currently applied to sales taxes distributed to counties on the basis of population. As currently drafted, these changes would take effect July 1 of this year. SB 126 has passed the Senate and is currently awaiting consideration from the House. Contact: Chris Nida

State budget development is set for a milestone next week, when the Senate is expected to unveil and pass its version of the spending plan. The chamber could unveil legislation for public inspection by Monday or Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. A House version will follow later, meaning the chambers will have to reconcile the differences between the two plans before they can send a compromise bill to the governor. Outlets including the Insider State Government News Service otherwise expect a fairly uneventful week ahead at the General Assembly in terms of voting, and that on the current pace House Speaker Tim Moore is eyeing adjournment by late June or early July.

The N.C. Department of Commerce announced recently the release of $10.6 million to local communities across the state for infrastructure improvement and support of more than 250 new jobs. "Modern infrastructure is a key component for attracting business,” said Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. "These grants will help counties and towns meet the needs of business by upgrading water and sewer systems, buildings, and industrial access points all across the state." The state funding comes from the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, which approved the latest 22 grant requests. The City of Shelby, for one, was awarded $4 million for improvements related to Clearwater Paper Corporation's recent 180-job expansion announced there. The Town of Selma was awarded $750,000 in support of a building reuse project for Selma Precision Technologies and nearly 40 jobs. The Town of Robersonville was awarded $150,000 for renovation of a historic building to support small businesses. Click here for the full awards list and funding source.

Read Waxhaw's story and many others at

Since 2012, one of the Town of Waxhaw's stated goals for downtown has been infill development -- and recent activity is reflecting wins. Curt White, the town's downtown development manager, is among locals watching it first-hand per fresh motivation from private developers and surging interest from the public. As the town says of the private and public parties involved, "Waxhaw's success is their success." That's perhaps why the town's story is the latest addition to, home of League economic development campaign Here We Grow, whose simple motto is, "When each of us does better, we all do better."

Municipalities across the state, like Waxhaw, are adding their own stories to the map at to show how their individual economic development successes are helping the statewide economy. They're doing it through partnerships, creative thinking, wise investment for a better future and agile use of limited resources.

These projects are taking place even as towns like Waxhaw recover from mill closings and lost tax base, reasons why budget flexibility created by proposals like HB 900 Safe Infrastructure and Low Property Tax Act are so crucial to continuing these successes.(Click here for last week's coverage of this top priority bill.) We know your town has a story to share, and that's why we created Here We Grow. If you haven't joined yet, send an email to to obtain a login, add your story to the map, download customizable materials, read related news and share the good word on social media.