Here is the first glimpse of something I think you will be hearing a lot more about in the near future:
Here is the first glimpse of something I think you will be hearing a lot more about in the near future:
The proposed committee substitute for House Bill 524 (a combination of house bills 524, 645, and 727) is a really bad plan.
If this bill becomes law, cities and towns would be able to annex, with the approval of the Local Government Commission, and collect taxes for three years, but ultimately never provide services.
The LGC is a government board that deals with local governments' financial issues. Board members include the State Treasurer, Secretary of the Department of Revenue, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and a handful of appointed lawyers and former city officials.
Legislators in committee described LGC oversight as “meaningful” and emphasized its power to deny annexation proposals that are not financially feasible. The bill does give the LGC that power, but in reality it is unlikely that the LGC will use it wisely. If you take a good look at the board members, it’s pretty obvious that they won’t be paying much attention to the interests of the annexees.
LGC oversight will probably be a rubber stamp that allows cities and towns to collect property taxes from people they never intend to provide services. The bill extends the window for the provision of services from two to three years. If after three years no services have been provided, cities and towns must stop charging taxes.
In short, this bill allows local governments to use involuntary annexation as a way to fill temporary budget holes. It gives them the power (with rubber stamp approval) to levy taxes on people who will never really be part of the city or town and will never receive any services.
NC needs annexation reform, but this bill is not the answer.
The NC House passed a bill today that will allow the state to join a very exclusive list of governments that have banned single-use plastic shopping bags.
The two other places these bags are banned -- China and San Francisco.
If the Senate concurs with the House version of SB 1018 on Monday night, retailers on the barrier islands of the outer banks will no longer be able to provide plastic bags to their customers to carry purchases home in.
As Tara Servatius says, "The Californication of North Carolina" continues...
Even in an economic downturn, the town of Chapel Hill has managed to lower property tax rates and avoid taking out additional debt to cover costs.
When a reassessment of property values increased projected tax revenue, town council members did the right thing and cut property taxes by 15 percent.
Rather than spend the money on renovating the library, officials decided to let the people who earned it, keep it. For now, the library project is on hold.
The town council even decided not to take out an additional $20 million in debt that had already been approved by voters.
Chapel Hill shows that it is possible to cut taxes during a recession. Read more about it in this article from the N&O.
Elected officials beware! Last night a "Tea Party" in Wilmington drew up to 1,000 people to protest against against ever expanding government. You can watch video in the above link from WECT-TV and in this story and this story from the Wilmington Star-News.
Local folks along with radio host Curtis Wright from "The Big Talker FM" and Americans for Prosperity North Carolina organized the tea party and dumped 80 pounds of tea into the Cape Fear river. The protest drew hundreds of people who had previously never attended a public rally. They came together to protest events at the national and state level and to protest a specific local issue - Forced Annexation (along with high local taxes) of the Monkey Junction area of New Hanover County by the city of Wilmington.
The one thing elected officials at all levels of government fear is an educated and engaged electorate. They count on citizens being too preoccupied with the chores of daily living to pay attention to what they do and hold them accountable for their actions. In most cases they feel that only they "understand" the problems and the solutions and will take action with the belief that by the next election the voters will either not vote or have forgotten their anger.
We can only hope that the people who are taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the "Tea Party" in their local community will stay engaged. For a listing of Tea Parties around the state in the coming weeks click here.
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker outlined his vision for the Capitol city in his "State of the City" address today.
Among his proposals:
Increase the sales tax by 1/2 cent to build choo-choo trains.
Increase regulation on development
Build a "world class" park on the Dorthea Dix hospital land
Wow. Maybe the Mayor hasn't noticed the skyrocketing murder rate in Raleigh, or the equally skyrocketing unemployment rate. So while the nation is in a recession, Meeker wants to increase taxes and make the city less inviting for development while making new construction more expensive.
Keep this up Mr. Mayor and Raleigh will quickly be on its way to becoming Detroit South. And remember, we had a winless football team first!
Whenever public servants are mentioned in the media, it usually involves criticism of their job performance or the revelation of some sort of character flaw. This is even more the case in the blogosphere. But, when we see our public leaders doing the right thing, this too must be recognized.
Raleigh's Chief of Police has been caught doing the right thing. On my way home on Monday, December 22nd I ran up on a disabled vehicle on one of the Oak City's busier boulevards, Wade Avenue. Traffic had begun to slow to a crawl. As I inched closer, I noticed a police cruiser was on the scene.
I next spotted an officer returning to his car with a battery charger in hand. For just a moment, my brain tried to comprehend why this officer had four stars on each of his shoulders. I suddenly realized what I was watching. Harry Dolan, Raleigh's Chief of Police was out in the cold rendering assistance to a stranded motorist.
This man is the leader of nearly 800 police officers in a major city and yet he finds that it is just easier to step in and solve the problem at hand his self. No need for a tow truck, no need to call another officer. Problem observed, problem dealt with.
Be careful, Chief Dolan. That kind of rational thought could get a public employee into trouble someday. But, while you're at it, thank you. You are the type of public servant we need all over the state.
The tortuous route of the moratorium on forced annexation in North Carolina took another agonizing step today when the House Judiciary II Committee again to hear the bill. At the last meeting on Thursday, June 19th, the Chairman, former Speaker of the House Dan Blue (D-Wake) waited until the end of the meeting to take up the bill and time ran out before a vote could be taken. Annexation opponents had counted votes and figured they had a good chance to win vote. When today's meeting began, the room was packed with even more victim's of forced annexation from Moore, Rowan Wake and Johnston Counties.
After hearing from the NC League of Municipalities General Counsel, Andy Romanet make the offer to negotiate with lawmakers in order to avoid a moratorium, Reps. Larry Brown (R-Forsyth) and Bruce Goforth (D-Buncombe) both stated that the League's offer to negoiate was just that: an offer.
Rep. Blue then began to slowly propose some sort of settlement between the sides that both may find agreeable. One of his proposals was to punish cities that annex residents without providing services in a timely manner by having the residents taxes withhold from the offending city.
Annexation opposition leader Doug Aiken countered by telling the committee that cities that abuse the annexation process may be adhering to the letter of the law but the law itself is flawed to begin with and needs to be changed.
In the end, despite efforts by Reps. Joe Kiser (R-Lincoln) and Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) to make motions to vote on the bill, Blue announced that he planned to continue the meeting in the future and hoped to offer an amendment that addressed his prior concern.
Annexation proponents should consider the moritorium the least damaging proposal to their position. Should the moritorium fail this session, it has the potential to become a tsunami of citizen activism next session that could result in an end to forced annexation altogether in the Old North State.
WRAL has a story that talks about the high turnover of Raleigh police officers and mentions the fact that there are 58 vacancies on the police force.
So why then, is Raleigh spending $1 million to spruce up a restaurant downtown while police officers quit over low pay? Apparently, the Mayor of Raleigh places a higher priority on having a fancy place to eat in his beloved downtown than ensuring the safety of his city's residents.
How many police officers could have been hired for $1 million? Or retained from resigning by a new pay structure?
Maybe if the Mayor got out of his Ivory Tower, he'd notice that there has been 3 homicides in Raleigh already this year. Hmm... wonder if filling those 58 police vacancies might do something about the crime rate.
Rome may be burning, but Meeker will sit idly by and fiddle at his lovely new amphitheater next to his lovely new convention center, down the newly reopened Fayetteville Street from his lovely new white table cloth fancy restaurant.
Priorities matter. It's time to hold Raleigh's leaders accountable for theirs.
Taxpayers need to follow the money while the Randy Parton Theater meltdown happens. We now have our three law firms feeding at the public trough. Don Carrington keeps reporting on the travails of Roanoke Rapids and the floundering Parton Theater with his latest Dolly Speaks Out to Support Brother story detailing the hiring of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice to represent the city of Roanoke Rapids in this dispute. Carrington had already reported that Ernest Pearson, a lawyer with the Sanford Holshouser law firm, has signed checks from funds advanced by the city to his own firm. And let us not forget that Randy Parton has a lawyer from the firm Poyner & Spruill LLP representing him. Since Parton was given a very large sum from the city up front and they have already forgiven him a $475,000 advance - taxpayers are really the ones footing his legal bill in the end.
Let's look at this again:
As has been said many times, follow the money.