Recent Blog Posts

  • Client-Related Records and the Public Records Law

    Authored by: on Friday, September 4th, 2009

    When local governments retain attorneys who are in private practice, when are records held by the attorneys subject to the public records law and therefore open to public inspection?  The court of appeals has ruled on this issue in a case involving attorneys representing a city, but one rationale given by the court would extend the ruling only to county attorneys.  The subsequent rationales, however, would also reach attorneys for school boards and for special purpose agencies such as water and sewer authorities.  Read more »

  • Taxes, Telephones and Traffic Cones: Do Tax Foreclosures Extinguish Easements?

    Authored by: on Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

    An interesting discussion from the Local Government Law listserv last week: Do tax foreclosures extinguish easements? 

    The answer must be no, don’t you think? If public utility and transportation easements could be extinguished by tax foreclosures, then the authority of the phone company to run telecommunication lines and the Department of Transportation to maintain highways would be dependent on the willingness of thousands of individual property owners to keep current with their property taxes.  That sounds like an unworkable system to me.

    But the relevant statutory language suggests the answer might not be so simple.  Read more »

  • Approving Minutes and General Accounts of Closed Sessions

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

    State law requires public bodies to prepare minutes and general accounts of closed sessions. A question frequently arises about the best way to manage the board’s approval of these closed session minutes and accounts. Various comments on the School of Government’s listservs provide examples of common practices. Read more for a discussion of legal issues and practices relating to this important function.

    Read more »

  • Controlling H1N1 Flu in North Carolina

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

    UPDATE February 28, 2017: This post has been updated to delete links to resources that are no longer available online. The post itself has been retained to provide historical information about the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, and to serve as an example of how North Carolina communicable disease control law provides for disease control measures during an emerging illness event. 

    You’re no doubt aware that there has been an outbreak of H1N1 flu (formerly called “swine flu”) in North Carolina this summer. To date, 175 state residents have been hospitalized and nine have died from this new strain of flu. Of the 660 cases that were reported to the state’s flu surveillance system between May and August, 587 (nearly 90%) were H1N1. However, because the vast majority of cases are not reported, state health officials estimate that there actually have been between 30,000 and 50,000 cases of H1N1 in North Carolina already. Read more »

  • Impending Local Sales and Use Tax Changes: The Final Phase of Medicaid Funding Reform Legislation

    Authored by: on Monday, August 31st, 2009

    The General Assembly enacted Medicaid funding reform legislation in 2007. The cornerstone of the legislation was the state assuming the counties’ Medicaid costs, but it contained several other provisions that impact counties, municipalities, and local school administrative units—including the repeal of a one-half cent local sales and use tax and the change in allocation method of another one-half cent local sales and use tax. Many of the legislation’s provisions were implemented in phases, over a three-year period. The final provisions become effective as of October 1, 2009. This post briefly summarizes the changes that will occur on that date. (Note that a detailed description of the entire Medicaid funding reform legislation and its impact on local units is available here.) Read more »

  • Who needs a hybrid? Regulation of golf carts on local streets

    Authored by: on Monday, August 31st, 2009

    In recent years, the General Assembly has enacted numerous local acts authorizing dozens of cities and one county to allow and regulate golf cart use on city and county streets. Absent this authority, golf carts cannot be driven on the streets or highways because state law both requires that a vehicle intended to be operated on the highways be registered and prohibits the registration of golf carts. See G.S. 20-50(a); 20-54(8).

    This session, the General Assembly enacted S.L. 2009-459 (H 121), which allows all cities and counties to regulate golf carts. Read more »

  • New Life for Old Development Approvals

    Authored by: on Friday, August 28th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013: The permit extension law was subsequently extended an additional year. For a review of the extension, click here.  The law has now expired. For a review of the impacts of the expiration, click here.

    One consequence of the depressed economy of the past few years was the demise of previously approved development projects. In many instances the market for potential sales was greatly depressed or necessary financing became impossible to secure. While the development business has always had some permitted projects that never make it to construction, the number of delayed and cancelled development projects rose significantly during the recent recession. The General Assembly decided in 2009 to provide relief to permitees facing the grim prospect of seeing their development approvals expire before a project could get underway. Read more »