Recent Blog Posts

  • Are You Certified? The New Statewide Uniform HUB Certification Program

    Authored by: on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

    On July 1, 2009, a new Statewide Uniform Certification Program for Historically Underutilized Businesses (commonly abbreviated as “HUBs” and formerly referred to as “minority- and women-owned businesses”) went into effect.  North Carolina state agencies and local governments may now count only those businesses that are certified as HUBs through the new statewide program to determine whether their HUB participation goals have been met.  In other words, a minority- or woman-owned business that is not certified through the statewide system cannot “count” as a HUB for purposes of meeting those participation goals.
    Read more »

  • Local Police-Power Ordinances: Whatever Has Happened to Them?

    Authored by: on Monday, August 10th, 2009

    UPDATE September 2013:  Click here for an analysis by my colleague Trey Allen of the general police power as interpreted by the 2013 North Carolina Court of Appeals case of King v. Town of Chapel Hill.

                 In North Carolina some of these ordinances may be in peril, at least to the extent they are intended to govern specific uses of land or types of land development.  Sign and outdoor advertising control ordinances, telecommunication tower ordinances, polluting industry ordinances, mobile home park ordinances, steep-slope ordinances, adult business ordinances—all have been adopted by local governments, particularly Read more »

  • New Utility Debt Collection Restrictions Actually Expand Collection Authority

    Authored by: on Sunday, August 9th, 2009

    The General Assembly recently enacted SL 2009-302, with the stated purpose of prohibiting “cities and counties that operate public enterprises from using certain debt collection practices that result in a customer being liable for the past due and unpaid debts of another person.” The new act does not prohibit any debt collection practices that were not already prohibited under existing law, though. In fact, the new act actually expands local governments’ debt collection authority, albeit under limited circumstances. Let us look at the provisions in detail. Read more »

  • Issues That Have Been Decided and the Motion to Reconsider

    Authored by: on Friday, August 7th, 2009

    Here’s a situation that comes up in phone calls several times a year.  The board passes some kind of motion – adopting an ordinance, establishing a policy, making an appointment – and a meeting or two later one or more members think they may want to change their minds.  When the matter gets raised, someone on the board asserts that only a person who voted with the majority can bring the matter back up again.  Is that right? Read more »

  • The Revaluation Revolts of 2009

    Authored by: on Thursday, August 6th, 2009

    Property tax revaluations conducted in the midst of the national economic crisis ignited an explosion of taxpayer outrage across the state in early 2009.  Assuming the local housing market woes continue, counties implementing revaluations in the next few years would be wise to learn from this year’s experience and prepare for similar taxpayer unrest.  The most important lesson?  A county contemplating the postponement of its revaluation should make that decision sooner rather than later, else it risks facing the wrath of the Department of Revenue in addition to that of its taxpayers. Read more »

  • Limited Public Forum Analysis Revisited

    Authored by: on Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

    When it comes to litigation involving freedom of expression in public places, the three-part forum analysis is, by now, pretty familiar. There’s the traditional public forum, the nonpublic forum, and the limited (sometimes called “designated” or “quasi”) public forum.  Courts consistently use these categories to analyze what kinds of restrictions government can impose without impinging on constitutional rights. The three types of forums are generally thought to represent a spectrum or continuum, with the nonpublic forum representing the greatest degree of allowable governmental restrictions on expressive activity, and the traditional public forum representing the most limited. But not all of these categories are created equal. Read more »

  • Change orders: How much change is too much?

    Authored by: on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

    As anyone who has been involved in a construction project knows, construction almost always involves unexpected costs.  The North Carolina General Statutes give local governments the flexibility to address these costs through change ordersG.S. 143-129(e)(4) says that the bidding laws do not apply to work undertaken “during the progress of” a construction project that was originally bid either formally (under G.S. 143-129) or informally (under G.S. 143-131).  In other words, if a local government bids out a construction or repair project, and then, in the course of the project, discovers an unanticipated problem that will require additional work (and increased cost), the local government does not have to bid out that additional work.  But what are the limits of this exception?  When does the cost or scope of the change order take it outside of this exception?  Is a $1 million change order too much?  Or $500,000 (the formal bidding limit for construction projects)?  Is 50% of the original contract cost too much?  25%?  10%?
    Read more »