Recent Blog Posts

  • The ABCs of IFBs, ITBs, RFPs, RFQs, and RFIs

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

    What’s the difference between an IFB, and RFP, and an RFQ, and what are they anyway?  As I’ll explain in more detail in this post, what name you give a solicitation document—the document you use to solicit bids or proposals—is not as important as the process you use to award the contract.  And the North Carolina General Statutes usually dictate which process you’re required to use.  Read more »

  • A Shot across the Bow of the Zoning Ship?

    Authored by: on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

    A shot across the bow of another ship at sea can provoke an international incident if the action is improperly interpreted, or the matter can be resolved quickly. But in either case a shot across the bow tends to get the attention of those on the receiving end. A recent zoning decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals should demand the attention of those in the zoning community. Read more »

  • Appellate Court Upholds In Rem Foreclosures (Again)

    Authored by: on Thursday, August 26th, 2010

    The Machinery Act describes the in rem tax foreclosure procedure in NCGS 105-375 as a “simple and inexpensive” alternative to the full-blown civil action required by the “mortgage-style” foreclosure procedure in NCGS 105-374.  That description might be overly optimistic in light of the diligent title search most tax offices undertake before starting the process.  But it is true that in rem foreclosures are usually quicker than mortgage-style foreclosures, in part because they can be accomplished without meddlesome attorneys like me.

    In a nutshell, the in rem procedure permits a local government to docket a judgment against real property for delinquent taxes and proceed with an execution sale of the property three months later.  The expedited nature of in rem foreclosures has been the source of numerous court challenges to the process in its sixty-plus year history. Owners and lienholders have repeatedly alleged that the in rem procedure fails to provide constitutionally adequate notice to interested parties before property is sold and their interests terminated.    The most recent of these challenges, Da Dai Mai v. Carolina Holdings, Inc., produced an opinion from the N.C. Court of Appeals last month that may be the strongest ever issued in support of the in rem procedure. Read more »

  • Access to Records or Lists of Information: What Does the Public Records Law Require?

    Authored by: on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

    How should a North Carolina local government respond to the following public records requests?

    First, a request for a list of all building permits issued to governing board members or their relatives.

    Second, a request (submitted after October 1, 2010 under the revised personnel privacy law)  for a list of the date and type of each dismissal, suspension, or demotion for disciplinary reasons within the past ten years for any law enforcement officer employed by the agency.

    Assume that in each case these lists don’t already exist, but with some effort, they could be created from records that do exist.  Does state law require the public agency to create these lists? In my view, the law does not require a public agency to create the first list (although the agency may prefer to do so rather than provide all of the records in which this information exists), but the law does require the agency to provide the second list.

    Why the different results? Although the general provisions of the public records law make clear that an agency is not required to create records in response to a public records request, the personnel privacy laws mandate that specific information is  public.  This means that if such personnel information is requested, it is the information itself, not the record on which is exists, to which the right of access applies. Read more »

  • Update on Purchasing Computer Equipment and TVs

    Authored by: on Monday, August 23rd, 2010

    As I mentioned in my last post, Session Law 2010-67 (S887/H1426) requires the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to develop a list of manufacturers who are in compliance with certain new requirements pertaining to recycling of used equipment and televisions and to post this list on the Department’s website.  The list is now available here (click on “List of Registered Manufacturers” on the left-hand side of the page).

  • (Electronic) Notice of Subdivision Construction Development Fees Revisited

    Authored by: on Thursday, August 19th, 2010

    In 2009, the General Assembly enacted new electronic notice and public comment requirements with respect to the imposition of, or increase in, certain fees and charges assessed by local governments, and (at least potentially) sanitary districts and water and sewer authorities. See S.L. 2009-436 (S698) (hereinafter “2009 Act”). I blogged about the new requirements last fall—see here and here. I divided my analysis of the legislation into two parts because I believed there were at least two conflicting interpretations with respect to the types of fees and charges (and, correspondingly, types of entities) to which the new requirements applied.

    This year the General Assembly revised the legislation to alter the notice requirements. See S.L. 2010-180 (H1766) (hereinafter “2010 Act”). The General Assembly did not clarify, however, the types of fees and charges to which the requirements apply—leaving local governments to once again speculate as to the scope of the legislation. Read more »

  • 2010 Local Government Purchasing and Contracting Legislative Update

    Authored by: on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

    [Updated 8/26/2010 to include link to list of approved computer equipment manufacturers and television manufacturers.]

    This wasn’t a big year for changes to local government purchasing and contracting in North Carolina, although there were significant changes affecting North Carolina state agency purchasing and contracting.  Since this blog focuses on local governments, this post highlights those small changes affecting them, and mentions in passing the changes affecting State entities. Read more »