Commissioners here settled on their top legislative priorities and, last week, leaders at the N.C. League of Municipalities agreed to lobby in favor of nearly all of them.
The League, an advocacy group and service provider for 540-plus member cities and towns across North Carolina, approved nine of the 10 goals backed by the town.
League committees developed a list of about 50 proposed goals and the group’s board of directors then pared that list down to 28 goals for the membership to vote on.
“Each town has one (ballot), to vote for 10 out of the 28 goals,” said Zebulon Mayor Bob Matheny, who was installed as the League’s president Monday, Oct. 24. “Then, (the League) takes the top 15 of the advocacy goals. If something doesn’t make the list, it doesn’t mean the League won’t work toward it at some point. It just means these are the goals that were established.”
The nine goals Zebulon’s Town Board voted for by consensus, with no given rank, that were approved by the League’s board were:
▪ Seek opportunities to support federal e-fairness legislation: States and municipalities are owed sales taxes for internet purchases, but don’t have the authority to collect them.
▪ Seek legislation to provide municipalities with additional locally-controlled revenue options: An attempt to give local governing boards another option for generating revenue beyond raising property taxes.
▪ Support legislation that defends the fiscal integrity of the Local Government Employees’ Retirement System.
▪ Oppose legislation that interferes with local management or ownership of local assets.
▪ Support municipal authority over municipal personnel issues.
▪ Support legislation that provides for municipal elections to be determined by local municipal authority, giving cities and towns the option of changing election years.
▪ Seek legislation and administrative changes to the Strategic Transportation Investment Prioritization process to give local conditions more weight in the allocation of transportation funds.
▪ Seek legislation to increase state-level funding for municipal infrastructure needs.
▪ Seek legislation limiting municipalities’ repayment of water- and sewer-related impact fees, and giving cities and towns ample authority to flexibly provide utilities necessary for future growth and economic development.
The lone goal supported by Zebulon commissioners that did not make the League’s list proposed legislative and administrative changes that would allow spending of non-entitlement Capital Development Block Grant funds on a wider array of projects – since state law does more to limit the ways CDBG funds can be spent than federal law.
Matheny’s installment as League president was no surprise. He was elected in 2014 as 2nd vice president, which funneled him into the 1st vice president’s seat last year and now to the top post.
“I do, and have in the past, go on various lobbying efforts as part of the League,” Matheny said. “My goal as League president is not to go up there specifically for the Town of Zebulon and not be interested in the other stuff. But, bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to have a local voice in the legislature.”
Matheny doesn’t expect much change in his new role, compared to his former VP roles, in terms of opportunities to lobby state lawmakers.
“But it does open some doors for exposure and for me to speak,” he said. “I’ll be going to conferences across the state and the country. It doesn’t hurt, when you’re there, to say I’m from Zebulon, North Carolina. It’s good advertising all around.”