NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard appeared before the NC Senate Finance Committee this week to express concerns about Senate Bill 265
Bond Referendum Transparency. The bill changes the process for local governments to gain authorization for general obligation bonds.
See more information about this bill and how you can support NCACC's stance under "Action Items" below.
The General Assembly continued its high-volume committee work this week, as it has done most of the legislative session. Many committees considered bills of interest or impact to counties, as described below, including legislation requiring additional information be included on ballot questions for general obligation bonds.
One bill that was scheduled to be heard was Senate Bill 455
Decriminalize Non-Statutory Offenses. That bill prohibits criminal enforcement of local ordinances (currently a class 3 misdemeanor with a fine of not more than $500) and changes violation of ordinances to an infraction punishable by no more than a $50 fine. The bill was scheduled to be heard this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but NCACC, along with some county attorneys and other stakeholders, asked the bill sponsors to please hold the bill to work further together on the legislation. NCACC thanks Senator Danny Britt for removing the bill from consideration this week and looks forward to working with him on bill language counties can support.
NCACC urges you to contact your Senator(s)
and discuss why the ability to enforce ordinances criminally is a valuable tool in the toolbox and ask for the bill to be amended to be a study, as recommended
by the General Statutes Commission, and as filed last year in Senate Bill 855/House Bill 1226
Recodification of Criminal Laws.
Senate Bill 265
Bond Referendum Transparency — changes the process for local governments to gain authorization for general obligation bonds. The bill requires the following information to be received by the Local Government Commission to be included in the authorizing order and requires the information to be included on the ballot:
- Estimated debt service on the bonds using the highest interest rate charged when looking at the immediately preceding years for a term equal to the maximum issue term of the proposed bond.
- The amount of property tax increase necessary to pay the debt service on the bonds.
- Notice that the county may issue, without a vote, additional general obligation debt in an amount of up to two-thirds of the amount of the proposed bond as the debt is retired.
The bill was for discussion only in the Senate Finance Committee this week. NCACC Executive Director Kevin Leonard addressed the committee and noted some practical concerns with the legislation, including:
- Stressing that NCACC supports government transparency, and that the information sought after in this bill is already publicly available.
- Voters will not get the whole impact on the bond as there are many positive impacts a bond has on a community, including long-term stability, borrowing at lower rates, and the building of community facilities for use over generations.
- The bill may have the unintended consequence of counties using more expensive financing options that do not require a referendum.
NCACC thanks bill sponsors Senator Todd Johnson and Senator Carl Ford for the opportunity to speak on the bill in committee and we look forward to continuing to work with them to improve the legislation. NCACC encourages our members to contact your Senator(s)
and discuss how the legislation impacts your county.
House Bill 284
Repeal Right of Action/Capital Outlay Fund — repeals the ability for local school boards to sue the county over appropriations to the capital outlay fund and makes final the decision of the county commissioners on the appropriation amount. The bill is scheduled to be heard next week in the House State Government Committee. This is a long-standing goal of NCACC and our membership. NCACC encourages our members to contact their House member(s)
and illustrate how the current model puts counties and school boards in an inherently adversarial position and ask them to support this good government legislation.
Bills of Note
- House Bill 230: NC Managing Waste Act of 2021 — modifies how the tax imposed on waste disposed of in municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris landfills is distributed, by changing the 12.5% allocation currently given to the General Fund to allocate 5% to cities and counties that provide plastics recycling services within their jurisdictions. The bill passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.
- House Bill 291: Bldg. Plan Approval — Certain Commercial Prop. — requires local governments to review and issue building permit decisions on certain commercial and multifamily building plans within 21 days of submission, or within 15 days of receiving additional requested information or resubmitted plans. Authorizes local governments and a building permit applicant to use a Department of Insurance qualified code enforcement officer or contract with a third party engineering firm to perform initial plan reviews under certain circumstances. The bill gained approval in the House Regulatory Reform Committee this week and now heads to the House Local Government Committee on Land Use, Planning, and Development.
- House Bill 376: School Calendar Flexibility — approved in the House this week, allows school districts to set an opening date for school no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19 (currently, no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26). The House also approved various local bills providing for school calendar flexibility. The bills now head to the Senate for further consideration.
- House Bill 425: Development Regulation/Multijurisdiction — modifies land-use regulatory laws to allow a land-owner with property in multiple jurisdictions to designate which jurisdiction applies in the absence of a mutual agreement between the local governments. The bill passed the House this week and now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
- Senate Bill 435: Terminations of States of Emergency — when a local government imposes prohibitions or restrictions during a local state of emergency and the emergency terminates or expires, this bill requires the local government to post a notice on the local government's website (if it has one) of the expiration or termination of the prohibition or restriction, and submit a notice of the expiration or termination of the prohibition or restriction to the NC Department of Public Safety's WebEOC critical incident management system. The bill passed the Senate State & Local Government Committee this week and will likely be heard by the full Senate early next week.
Governor Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Cohen announced this week
that if trends continue in the current direction, NC will lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. Vaccines are now available to individuals 16 and older across the state, and 35% of adults are fully vaccinated.
Visit NCACC's resource page on the American Rescue Plan HERE
, which will include updates on information and other events as they are added.
- Ensure your county has a valid Dun & Bradstreet Number (DUNS) and active System for Award Management (SAM) registration to avoid delays in American Rescue Plan Act funding.
According to pre-award guidance released by the US Department of the Treasury, counties should take immediate steps to receive direct payments authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. Counties must have a valid DUNS number, which is a unique nine-character number used to identify an organization. Counties must also have an active SAM registration, which is the official government-wide database to register to do business with the US government. Click HERE for more information.
- Sales Tax Distribution Estimates/COVID Revenue Updates (April 2021)
NCACC is hosting two virtual meetings for members over the next month:
- April 29 (2–3p.m.) — Medicaid Managed Care Listening Session with PHPs
Medicaid Managed Care Standard Plans will go live July 1, marking a milestone in North Carolina's Medicaid transformation. Representatives of the five prepaid health plans (PHPs) chosen to deliver services to Medicaid beneficiaries will be available to hear concerns and answer questions during this hour-long listening session hosted by the NCACC. County commissioners and county management staff are encouraged to attend.
Indicate topics and questions to address
If you have specific topics or questions you would like to have addressed during the meeting, we request that you indicate those topics and questions on this brief survey. Providing your questions in advance will ensure that the PHPs have the correct expertise and representatives in the meeting.
- May 12 (11a.m.–12:15p.m.) — Creating Emotionally Healthy Workplaces During COVID-19
Leisha DeHart-Davis, Director of the Local Government Workplaces Initiative at the UNC School of Government, will share insight and expertise into recognizing personal stressors, organizational stressors and signs of burnout; and supporting employee mental health during the pandemic and the endemic. County management staff is encouraged to attend, and is welcome to extend the invitation to county department heads.
LGFCU Excellence in Innovation Awards Application Now Open
The 2021 Excellence in Innovation Awards program is now accepting applications. In addition to the ongoing work taking place across county disciplines, special consideration will be given this year to COVID-19 response efforts. Click HERE
for more information on the awards program.