Harold’s Blog: North Carolina Legislature, Stormwater and More

Cary, NC – This week was very slow which is typical for this time of year.

Monday – Election Preparation

Monday, I met with the town manager for about half an hour. We talked about a few things including the upcoming election.

Tuesday – Diwali Practice

Tuesday was a Diwali dance practice session. We began learning steps to the second song out of four. We have such a LONG way to go.

Friday – North Carolina Legislature

Friday, I participated in a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Association. The following is the Executive Directors summary of the meeting.

Brief OPENING remarks

After a brief July 4th slowdown, the General Assembly picked up the pace towards adjournment. Attention has been focused on behind the scenes efforts to gather Democratic votes in the House to override the Governor’s veto of the budget as well as a hearing on a version of Medicaid expansion that appears to have broad support. This is also the time we traditionally see an increased risk for bills being “stripped and replaced” with new legislative proposals that can be pushed through without the usual public input and appropriate level of debate and scrutiny. Please keep an eye out for action alerts as bills with unintended consequences or unexpected, last minute items may continue to pop up during the last days of the session. As we have seen, phone calls to members make a huge impact. Thank you for your efforts.

TOPICS WILL INCLUDED:

Legislative Schedule and BUDGET

H966 – Budget
The budget included several items of importance to our members including SMAP/Transit funding and the historic preservation tax credit extension.
Getting a budget in place continues to be a problem, as expected. The Governor does not want to sign anything that does not include Medicaid expansion and the General Assembly does not want to include Medicaid expansion in the budget, so we are still at a stalemate.
In an effort to compromise and gain Democratic votes, the House heard modified version of Medicaid expansion (has a work requirement), H655, in the House Health Committee. It passed with bi-partisan support (25-6) but has been held as a bargaining chip because Republican Leadership has not been able to garner commitment for the votes for a budget veto override. If it were brought up for a House floor vote, projections are it would pass.
The legislature is continuing to attempt to get votes together for budget veto override (need 7 House Democrats and 1 Senate Democrat).
At this point, it appears most likely that the current budget will NOT pass over the veto and therefore funding levels will remain the same as last year.
The House passed a stopgap budget (H111), but the Senate has indicated they will not take that up.
SJR688 – Adjournment Resolution
Sets an adjournment date for July 22.
The General Assembly would then reconvene on August 27.
We expect their return in August to last only a couple of days to consider any veto overrides on other legislation and possibly another attempt at a budget veto override.
Transportation

S68 – Relocation of Water/Sewer
Would amend the percentage of non-betterment cost for transportation projects paid by municipalities for the relocation of water and sewer lines from 100% to 50% for a municipality with a population 50,000 to 100,000. The 50% cost share category that is currently only available to cities of 25,000 to 50,000. It is zero municipal cost share for cities of 25,000 or less.
Amendment DISCUSSED IN THE COMMITTEE to change the bill to reduce the cost for cities of 25,000-50,000 to only 25% cost share. (Would add 20-22 cities to benefit from the changes in the bill)
The amendment was NOT voted on, but we believe that is due to the original Senate bill sponsor (Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown) not being aware of the amendment.
It passed with no vocal opposition in the House State and Local Government Committee – in its original form.
It was referred to House Rules. We expect it to be taken up and moved, potentially with the amendment for cities 25,000-50,000. We believe the committee is just holding the bill to confer with the bill sponsor.
Public Safety

S574 – Gaming Commission
Changes the Lottery Commission to a Gaming Commission and adds bingo, raffles, and boxing under the Commission’s purview. It also includes a study on sports betting.
It does not address video lottery terminals or sweepstakes.
Passed on the House floor (86-26)
S154 – Sport/Horse Race Wagering Tribal Lands
Allows for sports betting on Cherokee land.
Scheduled to be heard on the House floor next Monday.
There have also been several sweepstakes related bills filed this session, but we do not expect any movement on these bills.
Economic Development

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
The basic extension was included in the budget – extends sunset to 2024.
H399 – House bill passed a few weeks ago – waiting for action in the Senate.
The delay should not be a major problem, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources have experience with credits in a temporary limbo. Assuming the bill becomes law even as late as next year’s short session, there shouldn’t be much of a gap on investors seeing an interest in the State.
Will be talking with members to see if we can get the standalone House Bill 399 moving, potentially for expected August session.
Local Revenues/ Local Control

S118 – Short Term Rentals/Airbnb Legislation (see attached PCS proposal/explanation – it is not available ONLINE since it was “pulled”)
The day before the committee, we heard about a “strip and replace” bill preempting local authority for ordinances to manage short term rentals, which generated am METRO MAYORS ACTION ALERT earlier this week – with only two hours of notice! Once we were able to get the language – only 2 hours before the committee meeting – we discovered it was a total preemption of local authority – including repeal of existing ordinances for Short Term Rentals/Airbnb.
Based on a quick acting lobbying effort and numerous phone calls from city leaders, we were successful in getting the bill pulled after lengthy discussion in the committee – discussion prompted in LARGE PART due to the calls from our METRO MAYOR CITIES to legislators.
It is typical for things like this to happen at the end of session and we expect there will continue to be attempts to get language like this pushed through. Please be on the lookout for action alerts throughout the remainder of the session (EVEN AS EARLY AS Monday or Tuesday next week).
H645 – Outdoor Advertising
We have continued to have discussions with the billboard industry. The Outdoor Advertising Association is engaged in the conversations and working with cities. The industry has been willing to amend the bill, but it is clear they have strong support in the General Assembly for their efforts to maintain their existing inventory of billboards.
It is scheduled to be heard on the Senate floor next Monday.
S355 – Land Use Regulatory Changes
The bill was signed by the Governor this week.
It began in an onerous form and through and an extensive stakeholder effort beginning early in the session it is now a much better bill. It is a lengthy and complex bill where municipal interests were well represented by a small group city attorneys and lobbyists along with the NCLM Chief Legislative Counsel.
Please alert your planning and legal departments. As suggested on the call, we check with NCLM and the School of Government to information on the bill is shared with cities regarding this very dense and technical bill.
S316 – Affordable Housing Study
This bill was signed by the Governor this week.
It is a study bill that asks for specific information from cities of 90,000 or greater.
The report is due by October 20, 2019
We encourage you to make your City Manager’s Office aware of this study. The information gathered is not necessarily contentious, but there are some broad and vague inquiries in the bill.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Dr. Nalbandian Workshop

We were delighted that Dr. Nalbandian joined us for the second time to instruct staff during a half-day workshop on the role of competing values in the administrative and political work of local government. Through a combination of presentation and case studies, 42 staff members from diverse roles learned about themes of: why there are often no (or many) “correct” answers in adaptive work and politics; how can staff can better appreciate the way Council members consider and evaluate issues; and how incorporating an understanding of values into our work will help staff be more effective and engaged with Council and our citizens.

After the workshop, a smaller group of 10 staff who are deeply involved with staff report preparation and community engagement joined Dr. Nalbandian for a working lunch where the conversation around values, personal experiences, and case studies continued.

Staff was overwhelmingly positive about the experience. As Anna Crollman said, “I hope everyone can hear him speak at some point. It sparked such great conversations with colleagues today and everyone seemed to leave invigorated and inspired to think about our relationships with Council and how we function as an organization.”

Celebrating the NC Courage

The community, staff and Council will have the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the NC Courage’s successes prior to the July 18 council meeting. There’s a lot to celebrate! In 2018, the team won the National Women’s Soccer League’s regular season and tournament and the Women’s International Champions Cup (ICC). Seven of the NC Courage players played for their countries in the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup – including four on the winning USA team – and one player provided TV commentary in France. During their absence, many of the remaining Courage players have stepped up and carried the Courage team as they continue to play their regular season games. We look forward to celebrating these amazing successes!

Stormwater Successes

With the recent completion of drainage improvement projects at Arbor Brook Drive and Summer Lakes Drive and the upcoming work at Vinecrest Court and Two Creeks Road in the fall, staff continues to implement successful stormwater infrastructure projects that are making a difference to citizens throughout our community. At Two Creeks, we are leveraging criteria in Policy Statement 35 with a common sense approach to alleviate the risk of structural flooding. At Vinecrest Court, Policy Statement 146 criteria is being used to mitigate flooding to keep our roadways safe. At Arbor Brook Drive, staff creatively wove private-public cooperation with both sets of criteria to mitigate structural flooding. Our adaptive stormwater approach continues to enhance community resilience and yield positive relationships with our citizens.

Caring for our Safety

Working with HR and as part of his special assignment in the Town Manager’s Office, Capt. Jerry McCormick is helping employees learn techniques to be and feel safer at work, at home and in the community. Part of this effort includes more regular emergency preparedness drills starting this summer at our staffed buildings. We’ve also established an interdepartmental team to more consistently evaluate and incorporate security features in our existing and future facilities.

Crime-Fighting Technology

Cary is partnering with Ring Home Security to utilize new technology to combat crime. Ring Home Security partners with law enforcement agencies across the United States to foster better communication between local authorities and the communities they serve through their “Neighbors” app and the law enforcement portal for the app. The Neighbors app creates a geographic radius around a user’s home. When anyone within that radius shares an alert (videos, photos, comments etc.), the user receives a notification. The law enforcement portal provides police officers the ability to view public posts within their jurisdiction, post crime alerts or even request information from Ring users. We are excited to add this valuable resource to our toolkit as we continue to utilize new technology to combat crime.

Building Relationships

As part of our Community Services Outreach, Police Officer Patrick Fox met with students at Bright Horizons during their summer camp and was met with lots of questions and smiles.

PHOENIX

Officer Lekisha Branch partners with residents and management of the Cary Pines Apartment and Townhome Community, becoming involved in community affairs and tailoring services to the unique characteristics and needs of the Cary Pines Community. Courtney Buda, Property Manager, said “I recently became Property Manager in Cary, and Officer Branch has made the transition much easier. This was my first time being involved in Project PHOENIX and I could not have picked a better officer to represent the program! She is frequently stopping by the property to check not only my residents, but myself and my team. I look forward to the partnership with not only Project PHOENIX, but with Officer Branch.”

Recognition

Public Works staff joined forces with surveyors from Transportation & Facilities in a OneCary effort to expedite construction of a much-needed 105-foot section of sidewalk along Collins Road adjacent to Davis Drive Elementary School. This sidewalk provides improved connectivity and safety for pedestrians, including students. This sidewalk (part of the FY19 Sidewalk Improvements Project) also included installation of a ramp which provided an opportunity for staff to collaborate and review newer wheelchair ramp standard specifications and ensure the ramp precisely conformed to ADA requirements. Staff benefited in this combined effort by sharing skills, learning and gaining a better understanding of each other’s capabilities, as well as building new relationships. Special thanks to Bill Roy, Sal Krutisia, Bennie Watson, Christian Hendricks, Ronnie Jones, Joe Collins, Robin Murray, Zak Kassa, Martish Blackwell and Paul Middleton who reached across boundaries to expedite the installation.

Advisory Board Meetings

Athletic Committee

Mon, 7/15, 6pm

Town Hall Conf Room 11130

Cary150 Task Force

Tues, 7/16, 6:15pm

Town Hall Conf Room 10035

Public Art Advisory Board

Wed, 7/17, 6:15pm

Town Hall Conf Room 11130

Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • A complaint about Google Fiber installation
  • A complaint about development in west Cary
  • A complaint about gas leaks in Cary
  • A complaint about trees being cut down

Next week will be busier for me. Activities include staff meetings, a Wake County Mayors Association meeting, an interview at the tennis center, a meeting with the mall owners about redevelopment, a town council meeting, a meeting of the North Carolina Metro Mayors, and campaign related meetings.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 21st. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.

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