Recent Blog Posts

  • Gap Time and the FLSA

    Authored by: on Friday, December 1st, 2017

    What is “gap time?” The term does not appear in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or in the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) FLSA regulations. It is, however, used by human resources and payroll professionals and appears in a number of DOL Administrator Opinion Letters. “Gap time” refers to the hours that fall between a nonexempt employee’s regularly scheduled hours and the 40 hours that an employee must work before becoming entitled to time-and-one-half overtime premium pay (for law enforcement officers and firefighters working on a 28-day work schedule it’s 171 and 212 hours respectively). When an employee is scheduled to work 40 hours per week, there is no gap time. But for employees working fewer than 40 hours –37.5 hours per week, for example – gap time is time worked between 37.5 and 40 hours. Do nonexempt employees get paid for gap time? Read more »

  • “Fore!” Golf Carts and Local Taxes

    Authored by: on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

    Can local governments levy property taxes on residential golf carts? This seemingly simple question doesn’t have a simple answer.  I say yes, but the NC Department of Revenue says no. A good chunk of money hangs in the balance as golf carts grow more popular and more upscale (check out this faux ’57 Chevy cart listed for $15,000!). Read more »

  • The Old “New Overtime Rule” and a Possible New “New Overtime Rule”

    Authored by: on Thursday, November 16th, 2017

    Whatever happened to the “new” FLSA overtime rule that had been due to take effect last December but was stopped when a federal court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction? Employers, many of whom were none too fond it, can be forgiven for wondering whether the 2016 rule is dead. Unfortunately, you can’t put changes to the FLSA salary test behind you yet: in July, the Trump Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Request for Information, apparently signaling an intention to set a new “new” higher minimum salary for overtime exemption, and in October, the Trump DOL appealed the federal court’s final decision in the new rule case. That decision threw the 2016 rule out. Confused? So are a lot of people. Read more »

  • Pleading Waiver of Governmental Immunity: What’s Enough?

    Authored by: on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

    In lawsuits against units of local government, the general rule is that the trial court must throw out the plaintiff’s claims if the unit raises the defense of governmental immunity and the complaint fails to allege a waiver of that immunity. This blog post looks at how detailed a waiver allegation must be for a complaint to survive an assertion of governmental immunity. Read more »

  • It’s Campaign Season: What Are the Rules About What City and County Officials May Say and Do?

    Authored by: on Monday, October 30th, 2017

    • May a county commissioner make a personal statement during a board meeting to endorse a candidate who is running for a seat on the commission?
    • May she call a press conference on her front lawn to endorse that candidate?
    • May the register of deeds fire a deputy register who is supporting her challenger in the election?
    • May the mayor use her city-issued email account to circulate a statement about her goals for the upcoming term if she is re-elected?
    • May a city or county sponsor a candidate forum?

    Local government elections can raise sticky issues for local government officials and employees. They likely have strong feelings about the candidates and issues, but they may feel a bit constrained about actively campaigning, especially if they support candidates who are running against the current board members. Taxpayers may justifiably oppose any use of public resources to promote particular candidates or issues. State statutes for cities and counties address employee political activity, along with a broader statute that applies to city, counties, and schools, which prohibits the use of public funds to influence an election. This blog post addresses the scope of these statutes as interpreted by state court decisions, and also discusses relevant aspects of free speech law, as it applies to government employees and elected officials. Read more »

  • Hiking for Profit? A Property Tax Exemption Dispute

    Authored by: on Monday, October 23rd, 2017

    Can a land conservancy organization that preserves private land from development and occasionally charges for guided hikes and farm workshops qualify for a charitable property tax exemption? Recent discussions between the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC”) and Buncombe County show how difficult it can be to determine exactly what types of non-profit organizations are “charitable” under North Carolina law.

    I’ve blogged in the past about the increasing number of battles between local governments and non-profits over property tax exemptions.  As non-profits move beyond the traditional “social-services” model (think food banks, homeless shelters, and low-income housing) and mix charitable work with commercial activities, local governments have become more willing to question the non-profits’ property tax exemptions. SAHC’s interaction with Buncombe County follows that same pattern. Read more »

  • Waiving Interest on Property Taxes

    Authored by: on Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

    Here’s a simple rule to remember: local governments can’t waive interest on property taxes whenever they want.

    Where do you find this simple rule?  GS 105-381.  Plus GS 105-380.  But you really need to read those sections in conjunction with GS 105-273(15) otherwise you won’t know that GS 105-380 and GS 105-381 apply to interest as well as taxes. GS 105-348 also plays a role.  And don’t forget that GS 105-312(k) allows for the waiver of interest on unpaid discovery bills.

    Okay, maybe this rule isn’t as simple as it first appears.

    Read more »