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League Bulletin

October 7, 2016

North Carolina local government officials gathered at SAS headquarters in Cary on Tuesday to learn what it takes to become a “smart city” and how to improve lives through technology. The event kicked off Envision Carolina, a program to help select local governments explore, plan and launch new smart-cities initiatives.

Attendees learned that smart cities combine data collection and analysis with communication to improve government services and operations. They also learned how data, through analytics, can be used to more effectively allocate resources, plan for growth and change, and reduce costs.

Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson emceed the event. Photo credit: Sarah Collins

A highlight of the event was a presentation from Town of Cary Finance Director Karen Mills about the town's Aquastar program -- an automated water metering system that uses advance meter infrastructure technology for 24-hour usage monitoring. One of the many benefits to the town of the increased data is the ability to alert citizens to peak usage and possible leaks in their homes. The town estimates Aquastar will save the town $28 million over the 17-year life of the project.

Envision Carolina will next host a workshop on Nov. 30 for as many as eight local governments -- where there will be the opportunity to collaborate with private-sector companies to solve a problem or improve a process. The deadline to apply is Oct. 25. Attendees of Tuesday’s event also learned about the White House’s Smart Cities Council Challenge Grants that will help five cities apply smart technologies to improve urban livability, workability, and sustainability. Applications for this grant program open Oct. 31.

Demand is rising for next-generation wireless infrastructure, which is bringing faster Internet speeds, broader access -- and new challenges for local government. That's the focus of a League educational forum scheduled for Oct. 12, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., in the Quorum Center (323 W. Jones St., Raleigh). Where will this infrastructure go? How will it look in relation to existing development? Click here to register for this free event, where you'll learn more about what small-cell wireless technology will look like, how the industry has evolved, what local laws and practices are involved and what other state and local agencies have worked through when negotiating with wireless companies. When registering, please indicate whether you will participate in person or remotely, as this event is accessible via webinar. We will send webinar instructions via email to remote participants the week of the event. For those attending in person, parking is available in the covered deck accessible from Harrington Street (as seen on this map).

Matthew's projected path, subject to change, as of 8 a.m. Friday. Click here for updates.

As Hurricane Matthew swirled against Florida's east coast Friday morning, North Carolina municipalities -- coastal and far inland -- stood ready. Cities like Wilmington declared states of emergency as they prepared for potential flooding or storm debris, coordinating with governmental and utility partners for response, and notifying residents of precautions to take and numbers to call. Municipalities were mapping out their plans all week. "We are encouraging residents to prepare now in the event of this storm,” City of New Bern Fire-Rescue Chief Bobby Boyd said in a city news release on Monday. “Make sure disaster kits are stocked and ready, have food and water supplies for each member of the family to last several days, have first aid supplies and medications handy as well as batteries, flashlights and a weather radio.”

The Town of Chapel Hill warned residents on Thursday: "It is important between now and Saturday to keep an eye on the forecast in the event that it changes again." The town also provided a link to a webpage listing its pre-storm announcements, areas of town that tend to flood during heavy rain and safety tips for anyone caught in a bad situation. On the Brunswick County coast, the Town of Carolina Shores made sure locals and visitors were aware that the area's recent rainfall could contribute to Matthew-related flooding. "Residents are advised that the flood danger is real due to precipitation in excess of the average monthly rainfall for September, the ground is saturated and natural water bodies are full," the town said in a statement on Thursday. "The risk for a flash flood should be prepared for now."

Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday also urged preparedness. "We have seen how powerful this storm is. We're very concerned about the heavy rainfall and winds we’re expecting during the next 72 hours," the governor said in a news release. "The rains will likely bring heavy flooding and storm surge in coastal areas and dangerous conditions and significant power outages throughout central and eastern North Carolina." The League hopes for everyone's safety and security and applauds the efforts of governments across the state working to keep residents and businesses informed as the storm progresses. Click here for updates from the National Weather Service. And don't miss, an emergency management info resource that the League administers for local governments.

Municipalities should warn residents of scams that tend of circulate with hurricanes. According to the office of Attorney General Roy Cooper, the downed limbs and flood damage that Hurricane Matthew could leave in parts of the state may give scammers and fraudsters the opportunity to promise cleanup work in exchange for upfront payments. Others might pose as disaster-relief charities. “The majority of North Carolina contractors, tree removal companies and car repair shops are reputable businesses, and often local merchants are the first to pitch in to help their communities recover,” Cooper said. “But some fly-by-night scammers travel to disaster areas to take advantage of consumers.”

Among tips from Cooper's office: "Beware of any contractor who tries to rush you or comes to your home to solicit work. If an offer is only good now or never, find someone else to do the work. Seek recommendations from friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who have had work done on their homes." Also: "Beware of charity scams that use disasters to make phony pleas for donations sound legitimate. If a caller refuses to answer your questions about the charity, offers to come to pick up a donation in person or calls you and asks for a credit card, bank account or Social Security number, it may be a scam." Anyone can check a charity's legitimacy by calling the Secretary of State’s office at (888) 830‑4989. Click here for a full list of scam-avoidance tips.

One of the most well-known bills of the 2016 General Assembly has become law. HB 972 Law Enforcement Recordings/No Public Record went live on Oct. 1 following intense study, stakeholder input and debate, and it becomes the state's first legislative regulation of the footage captured by police body-worn cameras. You can read background on the bill and its development in the League's 2016 End of Session Bulletin. Of note, the law does not mandate the use of body-worn cameras, instead only addressing the disclosure and release of the footage. Prior, state law was silent on the technology.

WRAL has a roundup of the two-dozen state laws in all that took effect Oct. 1. They include the creation of a "Blue Alert," approved in a law enforcement omnibus bill, to aid in the capture of anyone suspected of killing or hurting police officers. Another new law would authorize towns and counties to transfer ownership of police dogs and other public service animals to their caring handlers. The title is a tribute to Raleigh Apodaca, the late K-9 companion of retiring Sen. Tom Apodaca, who sponsored the bill.

Happenings on Main. Photo credit: Town of Davidson

The American Planning Association (APA) has named Davidson's Main Street one of five "Great Streets" in the U.S. for 2016 "Created from the need to support Davidson College almost 200 years ago, Main Street is now the physical and symbolic backbone of the city of Davidson, North Carolina," the APA summarized. "The street’s quintessential American feel and historic charm have been preserved over time through the efforts of an active community." The town plans to celebrate the recognition on Oct. 28 at Town Hall and encourages residents to attend. "We are honored to receive this recognition by the American Planning Association,” said Davidson Mayor John Woods in a press release. “Since it’s the site of many of our signature events like the Halloween March and Christmas in Davidson, and the location of many historic buildings and vibrant shops, restaurant, offices, and homes, Main Street is what provides our sense of community and binds us together.” The four other gold-standard streets on the APA's new list are Sherman Avenue in Couer d'Alene, Idaho; Main Street in Ketchum, Idaho; S. 24th St. in Omaha, Neb.; and Arthur Avenue in Bronx, N.Y.

The next episode of Municipal Equation -- the League's biweekly podcast on the challenges, new ideas and celebrations of today's municipalities -- is coming out on Tuesday, and here's your sneak peek. We'll talk with Adam Lovelady of the UNC School of Government about his recent research into the suburbs, what they might look like in the coming decades and what role local government has in that. (LINC'ed IN reported on his latest publication here.)

And what did you think of the last episode? It brought us the provocative and challenging words of Joel Kotkin, an internationally recognized expert on urbanism whose prolific byline has covered city growth patterns, demographics, millennials, local economics and much more. Didn't get to listen? Click here. You'll get to know what Kotkin means when he refers to "human cities," and you'll hear why he thinks there's so much value in allowing local governments to decide their own policies with less restriction from higher governments.

You can access all episodes of Municipal Equation here. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes here, completely for free (and please leave us a nice review). The podcast additionally is available on all the popular podcast-streaming apps, like Stitcher and Google Play. Have ideas for the show? Send them to host/producer Ben Brown at

Gov. Pat McCrory, during the Charlotte Chamber's annual retreat this week, called for healing between the city and the state legislature as disagreements persist over House Bill 2, the Charlotte Observer reported on Tuesday. While defending HB2, the governor also described how different municipalities think differently on the issue. "There is a totally different opinion on this issue in Shelby, North Carolina; Lincolnton, North Carolina; Wadesboro,” the newspaper quoted of Gov. McCrory, a former mayor of Charlotte. The League, in voicing opposition to HB2, has vied for allowing cities and towns to set their own such policies, rather than being  bound by a uniform state law. The Observer article also covered remarks from the governor about the recent shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott that brought national media attention to Charlotte. According to the newspaper, Gov. McCrory said he and police officials are examining ways that police can better handle sensitive situations. The League recently held a statewide forum on that topic. Click here for video of that discussion in full. According to the newspaper, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts voiced appreciation for how the city and state collaborated to bring peace during the protests that followed the shooting.