Recent Blog Posts

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

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

    A few of my 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. 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 »

  • When can a local government employee or official buy surplus property from the local government? Part 2

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

    Following up on my post last week about the procedures available for selling surplus property, I will now address the second question raised by the original post: When can you sell surplus property to local government employees or officers? Read more »

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

    Authored by: on Monday, September 21st, 2009

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

    Effective September 1, 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. S.L. 2009-436 (SB 698). The requirements, detailed below, are fairly straightforward. Determining the fees and charges to which the requirements apply is a bit more complicated…. Read more »

  • City and County Attorneys as Public Officers – Possible Downsides

    Authored by: on Friday, September 18th, 2009

    Last week I discussed a possible advantage of considering city or county attorneys as public officers – the governing board’s ability to hold a closed session to consider an attorney’s qualifications, character, performance, and so on.  This week I want to discuss a couple of possible disadvantages – to having a firm designated as county or city attorney, and to avoiding the rules against multiple office-holding. Read more »

  • A New Tax Benefit for New Homes

    Authored by: on Thursday, September 17th, 2009

    North Carolina auto dealers don’t pay property taxes on the thousands of new and used cars sitting in their lots awaiting buyers.  Walmart doesn’t pay property taxes on the massive amount of stuff for sale at its nearly 100 big-box stores sprinkled across the state.  Should North Carolina’s home builders get the same tax benefit for their growing inventories of unsold new homes?

    The home builders’ lobby has long thought so, but until this legislative session the General Assembly had declined to include newly constructed homes on the lengthy list of properties that receives beneficial tax treatment.  Read more »

  • Excusing Board Members From Voting

    Authored by: on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

    State law creates an affirmative duty for local governing board members to vote on matters that come before the board. Last week’s post discussed provisions that allow members to be excused from voting for specific reasons. In all other cases, the assumption is that they must vote. The statutes are mostly silent about the process for deciding whether a board member must vote, or whether instead, the circumstances meet one of the grounds for being excused. There is ample opportunity for mischief here. In close cases or controversial votes, a lot may ride on whether a particular member votes. Read more »

  • When can a local government employee or official buy surplus property from the local government? Part 1

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

    Your local government, a mid-sized city in North Carolina, owns 50 laptops that are in working condition but are no longer being used.  Each laptop is worth about $600.  As the Purchasing Manager, you’ve been asked to figure out how to get rid of these laptops.  While you’re trying to decide how to get rid of the laptops, a City Council member calls to ask you whether she can buy one of the laptops (she heard about them from the City Manager).  Apparently, the City Manager has told several city employees about the laptops, too, because one of your friends in the planning department calls to ask you if he can buy a laptop.  Coincidentally, your home computer has just crashed, and your husband has asked you to find a replacement computer as soon as you can. Read more »