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  • When Board Members Won’t Talk Back

    Authored by: on Friday, March 27th, 2015

    Jean Jett has been waiting all month for the regular public comment period at the city council meeting. She signed up to speak, and after waiting her turn, she stands at the podium facing the council members and says, “I am here on behalf of the musicians in town, and we want to know why the city has stopped allowing the Friday night jam sessions in central park. We have provided you with a petition signed by 300 citizens requesting that they be reinstated and the city has provided no justification or explanation for the sudden change in policy. Are you willing to reconsider this decision?”

    Silence.

    The board members stare back at her and the mayor says, “Thank you Ms. Jett. We appreciate your comment. Next person please.” Jean is nonplussed. The same thing happens with the next speaker. Can the board refuse to respond to the public or even answer a simple question?

    Read more »

  • Boards of Equalization and Review, Part II

    Authored by: on Thursday, March 26th, 2015

    I hope you were able to join us for our recent board of equalization and review webinar that featured input from experts at the Department of Revenue and local tax offices across the state.  Counties that did not have the chance to convene their boards for the live webinar are strongly encouraged to watch the on-demand version.  I’ll post a note here and on the Ptax listserv when it is available for purchase and viewing at your convenience.

    I’ve blogged about boards of equalization and review (“BOERs”) once before, but our webinar audience raised some interesting questions that were worthy of a new post. For even more detailed guidance about BOER procedures, you and your board should read the Department of Revenue’s recently updated BOER manualRead more »

  • More on Advertising Tax Liens

    Authored by: on Thursday, March 19th, 2015

    It’s March, which means in addition to finalizing your NCAA bracket sheets you might also be finalizing your local government’s delinquent property tax advertisement.  These ads must be published between March 1 and June 30 in a newspaper having a “general circulation” in your jurisdiction.

    I’ve answered many of the biggest questions about these ads here and here. But my in box continues to be filled with advertising queries.  Today’s post answers some of these new questions and reviews legislation on this topic filed this session at the General Assembly. Read more »

  • The FLSA’s Overtime Pay Provisions for Law Enforcement and Firefighting Employees

    Authored by: on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

    The Fair Labor Standards Act has two exceptions from its overtime pay rules for nonexempt employees who work different numbers of hours from week to week: the fluctuating workweek method and the section 207(k) exemption for law enforcement officers and firefighters. Look here for a post I wrote about the fluctuating workweek method, which can be used for any employee whose hours fluctuate. This post discusses the 207(k) exception, which is limited to law enforcement officers and firefighters. It is called the 207(k) exemption because it is found at 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) (it is sometimes called the 7(k) exemption after its location in the original bill). The 207(k) exemption is well-liked by law enforcement agencies and fire departments because it makes calculating the overtime of their employees more efficient and because it reduces overtime costs in a small, but real, way. Read more »

  • Conveyance of Local Government Property to Nonprofit EDC for Industrial Park

    Authored by: on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

    Ray Kinsella leads the nonprofit economic development corporation (the “EDC”) that was jointly formed by the county and its largest city in the early 2000s, and that is now governed by an independent board of directors. Ray has heard some optimistic forecasts of “re-shoring” of manufacturing facilities to the United States, and he has a plan to take advantage of the possible trend. He proposes for the EDC to build a new industrial park with the help of the county and city. Upon completion of the park, Ray believes the available land with new infrastructure will attract manufacturing facilities to the local area.

    The EDC hasn’t amassed enough privately-raised capital to undertake the project on its own, and private developers and investors don’t have an appetite for the project, so Ray’s plan depends on direct local government support. Ray proposes for the county to contribute the land for the park by conveying a 500-acre tract of land, which the county already owns, to the EDC for one dollar. The tract lies outside of city limits, but Ray thinks he can convince the city to provide water and sewer. Ray plans to market the tract to manufacturing companies, and when a company decides to locate in the park, the EDC will sell the required land to the company. Ray hopes the EDC can keep the proceeds from any sale, and then the EDC would use those retained proceeds for future economic development activities.

    Is the EDC’s proposed structure allowable? In a word, no. Read more »

  • Determining Local Board of Elections Director’s Salary

    Authored by: on Monday, March 16th, 2015

    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 of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court ruling that Guilford County had failed to set an appropriate salary for its elections director. The facts and procedural history of the case make it somewhat unique. The opinion, however, provides some guidance to a county board of commissioners about the contours of its authority to set its elections director’s compensation. This post summarizes the court’s holding and details factors county commissioners should consider in determining an appropriate salary. Read more »

  • Using Private Email for Public Business: Is it Illegal in North Carolina?

    Authored by: on Thursday, March 12th, 2015

    News about Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of private emails and a “homebrew” server raised both political and legal issues. I’ll leave the political issues to the pundits, and I’m not an expert in federal records retention requirements. But I thought our readers might be interested in how these issues would play out under North Carolina’s public records law. Read more »