Recent Blog Posts

  • Before You Start Recycling Your Bid Files, Read This!

    Authored by: on Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

    Your local government has just awarded a contract.  Now what are you supposed to do with all of the bids, bid tabulations, paperwork, and email generated by the bidding process?  Can you throw any of it away?  Do you have to keep any of it, and, if so, for how long? Read more »

  • Health Insurance for Retired Commissioners – A Constitutional Issue

    Authored by: on Friday, October 2nd, 2009

    S.L. 2009-564 (SB 468) amends G.S. 153A-93, effective October 1, to permit counties to provide health insurance to retired county commissioners.  The new act takes care of a statutory problem that appeared to prohibit providing such a benefit, but there remains a constitutional problem if a county attempts to use the statute to initiate the benefit for commissioners who have already retired from the board. Read more »

  • “Stop Calling My Client!” Communication Between Opposing Counsel and Government Officials

    Authored by: on Thursday, October 1st, 2009

    Can a local government attorney use North Carolina legal ethics rules to prevent opposing counsel from contacting government officials in the midst of a legal controversy?  Consider this hypothetical situation:

    Greta Gunslinger, a renowned litigation attorney, is representing a local developer in a lawsuit against the city over the denial of zoning approval for a major commercial development project.   Since filing the complaint, Greta has peppered the city council and the city manager with emails and letters complaining about the city’s treatment of her client and not so subtly suggesting that more litigation will follow unless the city becomes more friendly to developers. Read more »

  • 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 »