A WRAL op-ed this week urging a vigorous improvement in 2020 Census participation starts off by quoting the League on how high the stakes are – “A census response brings $1,823 per person, per year, in federal and state funds back to N.C. counties and towns…. An incomplete count puts that funding in jeopardy.” The League and its county and state partners have been pushing this message firmly throughout the year, but North Carolina is on track for an unfortunate undercount as the 2020 Census winds down. The op-ed also quotes N.C. Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders calling the census “one of the building blocks of our democracy…. Without adequate participation, we’re risking losing billions of dollars a year in funding for our communities. We are eager to increase our participation and make sure everyone in North Carolina counts.” Local leaders should continue communicating with their communities to urge participation, which is directly in their interest. The census is quick and easy to complete. Check out our page of resources to help in the effort.
Partisan disagreements on a spending figure for aid remain in Congress as cities and towns continue their push for a direct infusion of funding that won’t get lost or tied up in strict filtering or optional sharing from state or county governments. But as Roll Call reports this week, the Trump administration “is willing to consider another $1.5 trillion in relief for the U.S. economy and health care system … including more aid to state and local governments….” The publication cites former North Carolina congressman and current White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for that information. Meadows said that price tag was higher than Republicans were comfortable with but was “not a showstopper at this point.” He said he was optimistic about an agreement, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought a higher overall number. Direct aid to state and local governments is reportedly one of the biggest pieces of disagreement; a bipartisan caucus called the Problem Solvers targeted a $500 billion infusion, while Republicans and Democrats have targeted figures well below and above that, respectively. Roll Call has more details.
A judge has granted the City of Wilmington a stay on an order that would have repealed the city’s ordinance on whole-house short-term rentals in residential and historic districts. Earlier this week, the same judge had ruled that the ordinance violated state law blocking cities and towns from requiring rental permits as such, according to local news channel WWAY. But, on Thursday, “The Judge granted the City’s motion for a stay, which is effective immediately and until the appellate process is complete,” the City of Wilmington’s communications office reported in an email. “In the meantime, the City will continue to accept registration applications for homestays and whole house rentals in the same manner that as it has since the ordinance was initially adopted.” The order that the city is appealing referenced a statute -- 160A-424(c) – which speaks to municipal powers and rental property. The StarNews newspaper of Wilmington has more on this story.
The Town of Norman in Richmond County encountered a budget crisis earlier this year when the county changed its method of distributing sales tax revenue, situationally wiping out the town’s main budget source. Now, the town’s government is considering voluntarily suspending its charter, according to the Richmond County Daily Journal, the area newspaper. Previously, the county distributed money to municipalities on a per capita basis, which provided for Norman’s budgeting. But the county’s board of commissioners earlier this year voted to shift that formula over to an ad valorem basis, which isn’t viable for the small town. The situation in Norman is a bit unique, but municipalities across the state have had standing concerns with how state law allows for sudden changes in sales tax revenue distribution as such. One of the advocacy goals that North Carolina cities and towns set ahead of the past legislative biennium was to seek a change in law to alter the current statues governing distribution of local sales taxes by requiring a one-year delay in implementation when a county or the legislature changes its method of distributing sales tax revenue. Language in that spirit appeared in a House municipal omnibus bill in 2019. While it passed the House unanimously, the bill did not advance in the Senate.