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League Bulletin

November 13, 2020

​WHAT HAPPENED: The League and its officers were hard at work, and continue to be, in addressing the challenges and demands of North Carolina’s communities and how it all comes together for the state as the whole.

WHAT IT MEANS: Today (Friday), the League’s new Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity held its first meeting, which we cover in this Bulletin. The goal of the 14-member task force created by the League’s Board of Directors is better understanding and improving local policies that affect racial equity.

ON TAP: Speaking of goals, we have an update on the League’s legislative policy process and the amazing amount of participation our cities and towns have already played in it. A committee co-chaired by Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon and Kings Mountain Mayor Scott Neisler is moving us closer to voting on top priorities for the next legislative biennium.

THE SKINNY: Read on for full details and on these and other updates as we continue to weather the challenges together. Thanks for all you do.​

​The League’s Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity held its first meeting today, establishing a goal of assisting cities in better understanding and improving local policies that affect racial equity. The 14-member task force, created by the League’s Board of Directors, plans to meet into the spring and produce practical recommendations that all cities and towns can use to address racial inequities. “Our intent is to identify tangible actions each municipality can take when it comes to these challenges,” said NCLM President and Task Force Co-Chair Jennifer Robinson, a Council Member for the Town of Cary. “Specifically, we want to ask and answer the following question: What are the ways NCLM can help our members have the tools and information they need to address racial equity and related issues for their cities and towns?”

Robinson and fellow co-chair Bill Harris, an NCLM board member and member of the Fuquay-Varina Board of Commissioners, will lead the group. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about the task force,” said Harris, adding the work will be as important as it is challenging. “If we can continue the dialogue and move through what may at times be uncomfortable situations, we will be invincible.”

Other members are: Dennis Barber, Mayor, Newport; Michael Bell, Council Member, Wilson; Steve Rao, Council Member, Morrisville; Preston Blakely, Fletcher; Valerie Jones, Mayor Pro-Tem, Sedalia; Bobby Kilgore, Mayor, Monroe; Jeff MacIntosh, Council Member, Winston-Salem;  Mark Anthony Middleton, Council Member, Durham; Malcolm Graham, Council Member, Charlotte; Pat Taylor, Mayor, Highlands; Monica Daniels, Council Member, Greenville; and Brenda Lyerly, Mayor, Banner Elk.

At the initial meeting, NCLM Executive Director Paul Meyer expressed gratitude to all members for serving. He noted that cities and towns are best positioned to address primary issues around racial equity. “Cities and towns have more at stake. Our members – elected officials and staff – see the effects,” Meyer said. Harris said bringing together a cross-section of local leaders from around the state is crucial in finding the best approaches. “Hopefully, out of this, we can build the consensus to move forward.” Staff from the National League of Cities involved in its Race, Equity and Leadership initiative will assist in the task force’s work.

​We’ve reported in this Bulletin in recent weeks on our biennial legislative goals process, which is based on the direct input of North Carolina cities and towns, and we’re proud to note that we’ve reached a remarkable point in that work. Taking the lead is a 65-member Legislative Policy Committee led by co-chairs Lynda Sossamon, the mayor of Sylva, and Scott Neisler, the mayor of Kings Mountain, and they’ve already invested crucial hours reviewing and organizing the individual goals that our cities and towns have submitted individually.

It’s not a small stack. Before the deadline (now passed), we received 455 ideas from 115 municipalities culminating in more than 80 distinct goals. More involvement means more engagement by city officials around the state to help reach these goals, a huge step toward success.

Mayors Sossamon and Neisler and the rest of the Legislative Policy Committee are continuing the diligent work on the goals process so all member cities and towns will soon have the chance to vote for their top priorities. Stay tuned for more information in the weeks ahead.

​The N.C. Pandemic Recovery Office (NC PRO) will hold another update call, set for Nov. 17 at 2 p.m., with local governments to provide recent information related to the Coronavirus Relief Fund. This call will feature a Q&A session to help local governments finalize their plans.

Call-in information has been emailed directly to League members. If you did not receive this information or have any questions concerning the calls, please email the League’s Chris Nida at

​From Hometown Strong, the state government initiative focused on the needs of rural North Carolina, come a number of updates on coronavirus relief programs related to business, renter, and utility customers:

N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program:  No additional applications for funding are being accepted. HOPE Program funding is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant−Coronavirus Response and U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief allocations. To date, North Carolina has directed $167 million to the HOPE Program and will close the application period to ensure necessary funds for current applicants. Since the application period opened on Oct. 15, more than 37,000 people have applied for assistance through the program, which is expected to deplete currently allotted funds. State officials are working to obtain additional funding to ensure that even more North Carolinians receive pandemic-related financial assistance.

N.C. Commerce MURR program: Effective Nov.12, full-service restaurants can apply for rent or mortgage interest relief from the N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief program (MURR), administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce. The MURR program can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business and nonprofit applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations. Detailed information and application materials are available online at

N.C. Commerce CBDG CV program:  The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division has had tremendous interest in the N.C. Coronavirus (CDBG CV) Program.  At this time, requests for funds have significantly exceeded the $28.5 Million available.  No additional applications are being accepted. If additional funding becomes available, N.C. Commerce will send notification as quickly as possible. 

Update on the ReTOOL grant fund, in partnership with The Institute and Carolina Small Business Development Fund:  Information from the Institute and Carolina Small Business Development Fund indicate the application is closed due to high demand. Businesses can still seek certification as a HUB-Historically Underutilized Business from Department of Administration or a DBE-Disadvantaged Business Enterprise from DOT to become eligible for any additional funds that may be allocated.