Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

League Bulletin

November 2, 2018

WHAT HAPPENED: The state released update damage figures​ from Hurricane Florence that increased the tally by billions of dollars. This new $17 billion estimate comes through the latest N.C. Department of Insurance data.

WHAT IT MEANS: Dollarwise, Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina harder than the infamous Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Floyd (1999) combined. Gov. Roy Cooper, citing his recent tours of storm-slammed communites, said it's "clear that we have to recover smarter and stronger to better withstand future storms."

ON TAP: North Carolinians now have an extension to file for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Details follow in this Bulletin.

THE SKINNY: This might not be the final damage number from Florence. The governor's office is emphasizing that the $17 billion (up from the $13 billion tally reported in October) is still an estimate, and that actual inspection data will help to put more of a concrete total in the history books. Meanwhile, recovery efforts are ongoing.

North Carolinians who suffered losses from Hurricane Florence have more time to register for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after it granted an extension request from the state. A press release from the governor's office on Thursday said homeowners and renters who experienced property damage have until Dec. 13 -- an extra 30 days -- to file for Individual Assistance. "I encourage anyone who sustained damage to register with FEMA," Gov. Roy Cooper said. The Individual Assistance program helps homeowners and renters with temporary housing, home repairs, personal property replacement "and serious disaster-related needs," the release explained. Registration info is available at, or at​ for Spanish speakers. Click here for additional contacts and info.

Reversing a lower court decision, and in a ruling believed to be the first of its kind here, the N.C. Supreme Court has agreed unanimously with a governmental immunity stance from the City of Gastonia in a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff injured in a fall on property the city had leased to a local arts entity as part of an urban redevelopment effort downtown. The court action represents a positive outcome that follows involvement from the League's legal team. The years-old case began when the plaintiff, an artist, fell down the building's steps while attempting to carry out large pictures. The plaintiff's suit alleged the city hadn't adequately maintained the site for safety. While a Superior Court judge dismissed the case, siding with the city on the applicability of the governmental immunity defense, the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the city's leasing of the building didn't constitute a governmental function. The intermediate Court of Appeals essentially viewed the leasing like a disqualifying commercial arrangement (a proprietary function), rather than a qualifying governmental initiative for the public good. But the city's outside attorney on the case argued that the city's leasing of the building to the arts guild was a piece of Gastonia's downtown revitalization and clearly for the people's benefit. The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals ruling and has remanded the case back to that court for consideration of other remaining issues. In a writeup about the case from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly​, the city's outside legal representation is cited in calling the decision "significant because the issue of governmental functions versus proprietary functions is complex, and this is the first ruling of its kind that discusses the application of governmental immunity in the setting of downtown revitalization." The League's legal team played a part in the case, having filed an amicus brief, provided significant technical assistance and helped with Supreme Court preparations.

Time for a new episode of Municipal Equation, the League's nationally acclaimed podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change. When it comes to understanding broadband availability in the U.S., many turn to the Federal Communications Commission's coverage map, which serves to show where fast internet service exists, right down to the street address. Subsequently, that map is used for policymaking, funding decisions and planning to close service gaps for communities. But what if we told you that map, as many can testify, is pretty inaccurate? How? Why? What's the fallout, here? As fast and reliable internet service increasingly solidifies itself as necessary infrastructure, it's vital we have accurate data to shape our policymaking and funding decisions. So what's going on here? We dig in on this episode of Municipal Equation. (Stick around after the main segment, too, as we have updates on past episodes that our listeners pitched.) Listen to past episodes at Have an idea for an interesting episode? Email host/producer Ben Brown.

Later this month we'll kick off the League's 2018 Advocacy Goals Conference -- and there's still time to register, with a lowered cost. The conference is set for Nov. 29 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Registration is just $30 for the first municipal official and $10 for each additional registrant from the same town. By attending the conference, your municipality will have a voice and a vote as League members discuss and decide upon the issues that are prioritized when talking with state legislators and policy makers in 2019-2020. In order to have the most representative set of advocacy goals, we need as many cities and towns represented as possible. Register today.
Plan to attend the Advocacy Goals Conference not only for the important debate and voting on the issues that the League will prioritize during the upcoming state legislative biennium, but also to hear from special guest speakers including Gov. Roy Cooper and State Treasurer Dale Folwell. Also learn about available disaster-related resources for immediate recovery needs related to the hurricanes and preparation for future events. Lunchtime keynote speaker will be past National League of Cities president Melodee Colbert-Kean, a member of the Joplin, Mo., City Council and former mayor, who will discuss her city's resiliency after being struck by a devastating tornado in 2011. Don't delay -- register now​.
The League's Hometown Care Disaster Relief Fund was created to provide personal grants directly to employees of League-member North Carolina cities and towns who suffered significant uninsured losses from Hurricane Florence and other natural disasters, and your donations to the fund are truly making a difference. The League made an initial donation of $25,000, and is soliciting donations directly from the League’s business partners, other state municipal leagues, and the general public. If you are able, please make a personal donation to the fund by clicking here
Please share the campaign on your social media accounts to better our chances of success. While we recognize that this effort will not come close to making up for the sacrifices and losses of these valuable employees, we hope that it helps. We want to be a part of the Hometown Care they deserve. ​​If disaster has affected you and you wish to learn more about the grant program, including information about how to apply for a personal grant, please see our Hometown Care page or contact Michael Naylor at​​.

The latest issue of Southern City magazine is now available for online reading, this time featuring up-close and personal looks at the life and work of 2018 League President and Jacksonville Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara as well as Sen. Jay Chaudhuri. Lazzara discusses his knack for bringing people and ideas together, and his philosophy for public service. "I'm just a believer that giving back is essential," Lazzara said. "If you're blessed, you have to give back."
Senator Chaudhuri opens up about his transition from state government staffer to elected leader and what he's learned in his first full term in the General Assembly. He also highlights local government teamwork as a model for all governments. "I think in so many ways, what we see in municipalities, where you have members of town councils coming together regardless of party ideology working together, is a great goal for us to strive for here," the senator said.
Other topics covered this issue: citizens academies; resort town economies; regional roundtable discussions on population change; the League's Opioid Solutions Toolbox​, and so much more. Find the current and all past issues of Southern City at

The N.C. Department of Insurance has released a memo with helpful updates to building inspector licensure laws that should ease some hiring barriers that local government managers may face when considering experienced out-of-state applicants. The state licensing board that governs building inspections recently took action to allow inspectors licensed in other states, and who also have a significant amount of experience, to be hired without immediately passing one of North Carolina’s required exams. We hope this helps expand the pool of applicants for your open positions. Please direct questions or comments to the Department of Insurance​.

More North Carolinians have voted early in this year's mid-terms than in 2014. Voters cleared that benchmark days ago, on Monday afternoon, when several days remained in the 2018 in-person early voting period (which ends Saturday). A press release​ from the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement said 1,225,892 North Carolina voters had cast ballots by 3:30 p.m. Monday. In the 2014 mid-terms, 1,174,184 early ballots were counted. The final statewide voter turnout that year was 44 percent; it stood at 17.3 percent as of Monday afternoon, though that figure has risen in recent days of continued robust balloting. Election Day is Nov. 6.