Recent Blog Posts

  • Board Members Who Serve on Nonprofit Boards – Conflict of Interest?

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

    It’s budget season, and several nonprofit organizations hope to receive funding from your city or county to provide programs and services for the benefit of your citizens. An increasingly common situation is that you have one or more members of your city or county governing board who also serve on the boards of some of these local nonprofit organizations. Does this create a conflict of interest when it comes time to vote on funding decisions, or even on the budget itself? Read more »

  • Stimulus Funding Webinar and Website

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

    The School of Government now has free online resources to help you meet the reporting and compliance requirements that come with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.  If your local government has received ARRA funding, I strongly encourage you to take a look at these resources before October 1st (yes, that’s this Thursday), when the initial reporting period begins.  If your local government has not yet received ARRA funding, but expects to receive ARRA funding at some point, I encourage you to review these resources as soon as possible. Read more »

  • New Electronic Notice of Imposition or Increase in Fees Applicable to Construction of Development: Part II

    Authored by: on Monday, September 28th, 2009

    UPDATE August 2013: For more recent information on this topic, click here.

    Last week, I summarized the new electronic notice and public comment requirements on 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, imposed by S.L. 2009-436 (SB 698). In that post, I posited that although the basic requirements under the new law are fairly straight-forward, determining the fees and charges to which the requirements apply is anything but straight-forward. I then proposed one of two possible interpretations of the fees and charges to which the requirements apply. I believe that interpretation to be the better reading of the Act because of both the plain language of the provisions at issue and the legislative history of the Act. That said, the interpretation requires ignoring the portions of the Act that purport to require sanitary districts and water and sewer authorities to comply with the requirements.

    In this post, I propose an alternative interpretation of the provisions at issue–one that is consistent with the inclusion of sanitary districts and water and sewer authorities as covered entities, but one that arguably requires a strained reading of the plain language of the provisions at issue. Read more »

  • What needs to be in the notice of a zoning hearing?

    Authored by: on Friday, September 25th, 2009

    State law requires a public hearing before a zoning ordinance can be amended. Notice of the hearing must be published twice in a local paper. If the amendment proposes to change the zoning of property, notice of the hearing must also be mailed to the property owner and owners of adjacent property (and for good measure, a notice of the hearing posted on site). So what has to be in the notice? Just how much information is enough and how much is too much? Read more »

  • Awarding “Blanket” Incentives to All Qualified Applicants

    Authored by: on Friday, September 25th, 2009

    Up to this point, I have written about the “unwritten requirement” of a public hearing for cash economic development incentives, and about drafting a notice for the public hearing. What if a governing board approves a blanket incentive policy to provide a grant by formula to all qualifying applicants? For such policies, the board often intends for its involvement to end with adoption of a policy directing staff to make an award to every applicant meeting a set of criteria. Should a hearing be held prior to awarding each incentive under such a “blanket” policy?

    Read more »

  • Filing oaths of office

    Authored by: on Thursday, September 24th, 2009

    An attorney called recently and asked about G.S. 14-229.  That section prohibits a person from entering upon the duties of a public office without taking and subscribing the oath of office and then filing the oath “in the proper office.”  Where, he wanted to know, was the proper office for filing an oath.  After all, failure to file the oath is a misdemeanor and the punishment is ejectment from the office.  It turns out the answer is a bit complicated. Read more »

  • “Official Conduct” – More on Excusing Board Members From Voting

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

    My recent posts have discussed the limited bases upon which city and county board members may be excused from voting, and the lack of clarity in the statutes about how this should be done. So far, I’ve mostly focused on the statutory provisions dealing with matters involving consideration of a board member’s “own financial interest.” The other category in the city and county voting statutes is matters involving a board member’s “official conduct.” What kinds of questions might allow a member to be excused from voting under this category? There is no case law interpreting this provision. I can think of two possible scenarios in which this provision might come into play. Read more »