Featured Posts on Budgeting

Public School Funding Dispute Resolution Process Revisited

Public School Funding Dispute Resolution Process Revisited

In Union County Board of Education vs. Union County Board of Commissioners, ___ N.C. App. ___, No. COA14-633 (Apr. 7, 2015), the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment in favor of the Union County Board of Education in the amount of $91,157,139, holding that the trial ...

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Determining Local Board of Elections Director’s Salary

Determining Local Board of Elections Director’s Salary

A county’s board of commissioners is required to provide “reasonable and adequate funds necessary” to support the functions of the county board of elections, “including reasonable and just compensation of the director of elections.” G.S. 163-37. In Gilbert v. Guilford County, No. COA14-523 (Dec. 16, 2014), the North Carolina Court ...

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Interim Budget

Interim Budget

Each North Carolina local government and public authority (local unit) must adopt an annual balanced budget ordinance. G.S. 159-8. The Local Government Budget and Fiscal Control Act, G.S. Ch. 159, Art. 3 (LGBFCA), provides a basic framework for the preparation and enactment of the budget ordinance. It specifies, for example, that ...

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Budgeting Under “Tag & Tax Together”

Budgeting Under Tag & Tax Together

It’s almost budget time again for local governments across North Carolina, and tax collectors need to be involved.  Collectors have the responsibility of estimating the property tax collection rate for the current fiscal year (2013-2014), which is the maximum collection rate a local government may use when budgeting property tax revenues ...

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Recent Blog Posts

  • Administrative Modifications in Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances

    Authored by: on Friday, September 23rd, 2016

    In an effort to be business-friendly and to avoid a bunch of extra hearings, city council wants to allow the subdivision review officer to vary the subdivision standards when there is good reason to do so.  But, the statutes say that a variance from the ordinance must be granted by the board of adjustment and only after a quasi-judicial hearing. Can city council authorize administrative modifications to the ordinance?  This blog explores that question in light of a recent court decision regarding subdivision plat approval. Read more »

  • Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

    A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the City and County about an affordable housing project near the City’s downtown. The developer’s plan is to acquire and assemble two adjacent parcels—one owned by the City and one owned by the County—and then develop 20 units of affordable housing on that site.  There’s a catch: The developer has asked the City and County to provide the two parcels as a gift to the project. Local governments are generally not permitted to make gifts to private individuals or entities, so the developer’s request is immediately problematic. Can the local governments convey their property to the project in order to encourage the development of affordable housing? This post explains North Carolina law pertaining to the developer’s request. Read more »

  • Statement of Taxes Due

    Authored by: on Monday, September 19th, 2016

    When I decided to blog about the “statement of taxes due” required by G.S. 105-361, I assumed that tax offices were issuing them all of the time. My thought was that every closing attorney requested one of these binding documents for every real estate closing.  I was wrong.  (Perhaps not as wrong as I was about how good the Duke football team would be this season, but still pretty wrong.)

    Some counties do receive lots of requests for these statements.  Brunswick and Union counties issue several hundred a month.  But other counties report that requests for G.S. 105-361 statements are pretty rare. Carteret County gets only a few requests a month.  Mecklenburg County reports they normally receive only 10 or 15 requests a year (although that has increased since the kerfluffle over their 2011 reappraisal).  Bertie County said that only a single attorney has requested these statements in the past 15 years!  It seems that many closing attorneys rely on county tax websites or informal telephone calls to tax offices to determine if there are any outstanding taxes owed on property being sold.

    Regardless of whether your county routinely or rarely issues G.S. 105-361 statements, they remain a sensitive issue because they are one of the very few types of documents that are binding upon the tax collector.  If the tax collector fails to include a tax or special assessment in a statement and a buyer or lender relies on that incorrect statement, the lien for those taxes or special assessments is waived and may never be enforced against the property.  (See this post for a discussion of the other types of mistakes that can bind the tax office.)

    Here’s what you need to know about statements of taxes due issued under G.S. 105-361. Read more »

  • UPDATED: Municipalities (and Counties) Not Authorized to Charge Certain Impact (aka Capacity, System Development) Fees

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

    UPDATED: FINAL VERSION OF POST

    The North Carolina Supreme Court recently invalidated water and sewer impact fees assessed on new development by the Town of Carthage, holding that a municipality lacks the authority under general law to assess such fees. See Quality Built Homes Inc. v. Town of Carthage, No. 315PA15, ___ N.C. ____ (Aug. 19, 2016). The case could have significant revenue implications for other municipalities and counties who currently assess similar fees. (Local units sometimes refer to these fees by other names, including capacity fees and system development fees) This post summarizes the court’s opinion and provides guidance to municipalities and counties as to the types of water and sewer fees that are now prohibited and those that are still allowed. It then briefly discusses the potential liability of a municipality or county that has assessed an unauthorized fee. A future post will apply the new water and sewer fee framework to common scenarios involving both new and existing development.

    Note that this post only addresses municipal and, by analogy, county fee authority. A previous post analyzed a water and sewer district’s authority (and, by analogy, a water and sewer authority’s, metropolitan water district’s, metropolitan sewer district’s metropolitan water and sewerage district’s authority) to assess impact fees for water and sewer services. Read more »

  • Unaffiliated Voters and Elections Administration in North Carolina

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

    North Carolina’s two major political parties—the Democrats and the Republicans, of course—are deeply involved not only in the politics of the state but also in the state’s administration of elections.  One big group of the state’s registered voters, however—the unaffiliated voters—play no role in the conduct of elections.  Not so long ago there were very few of them.  Now they are about to be the second largest group of voters, catching up to Republicans and moving in the direction of the Democratic total.  Yet the Democrats and Republicans remain in control of the elections apparatus. Read more »

  • Discounts 101

    Authored by: on Friday, August 26th, 2016

    September 1 is just a few days away, which means the end of discounts for 2016 taxes is also just a few days away.  Seems like a perfect time to cover the basics of one of the Machinery Act’s most taxpayer-friendly provisions.  Read more »

  • UPDATED: Limitations on the Authority and Role of Adult Protective Services Programs

    Authored by: on Monday, August 22nd, 2016

    Yesterday, August 21, was National Senior Citizens Day. When President Reagan issued the proclamation first recognizing this day, he explained:

    For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older – places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.

    This sends a powerful message and it is one that I think about often. As I’ve been working with the adult protective services program for the past few years, one of the issues I have struggled with is the balance between providing protection and preserving “independence and dignity” of older adults and disabled adults. Once a county department of social services (DSS) receives a report of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an adult, it will take action quickly to screen the report and, if appropriate, conduct an evaluation. In some situations, DSS will not intervene to provide protective services to the adult who is the subject of the report. This post explores some of these circumstances and will discuss the reasons why DSS may not have the authority to provide protective services. Also, at the end of the post I’ve included details about some free training resources related to financial exploitation.

    Read more »