Recent Blog Posts

  • The Peaceful and Orderly Transfer of Power: Answers to Questions About Organizational Meetings and Swearing In New Board Members

    Authored by: on Monday, November 14th, 2016

    After each county and city election there is a transition period during which newly-elected officers have not yet been installed and outgoing officers are still in power. This blog post answers questions about what happens during this transitional period, when new officers are sworn in, and what business takes place at the organizational meeting. Read more »

  • Animal Services Records: Common Threads for Different Programs

    Authored by: on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

    Animal services programs have a variety of local government homes – they may be in the local health department, law enforcement agency, city or county administration, or a standalone department. There are also intergovernmental programs, such as a county agreeing to administer some or all of a municipality’s animal services program, and collaborations with the nonprofit community. Because these programs have so many different organizational homes and administrative structures, I suspect that they have adopted a wide range of records management practices. There should, however, be some common threads that tie these records practices back to the law. This post highlights some of the laws and policies that should apply to all of the programs, wherever they are housed. Read more »

  • Taxes on Transferred Personal Property

    Authored by: on Thursday, October 20th, 2016

    If I sell you my house, you need to worry about old property taxes on that house.  If those taxes aren’t paid, you will become personally responsible for them. Your wages, bank accounts and cars may become targets of enforced collections actions by the county.

    But if I sell you my boat, you don’t need to worry about old property taxes on that boat.  You will never be personally responsible for those taxes.

    That’s because G.S. 105-365.1 creates different rules for personal responsibility based on the type of property—real or personal—involved.  (By “personal responsibility,” I mean being subject to attachment and garnishment or levy and sale.)

    For real property, the owner on the delinquency date (January 6) and all subsequent owners are personally responsible for delinquent property taxes.  (See this blog post for more).  New owners of real property are on the hook for old taxes.

    But for personal property, it’s the listing taxpayer and only the listing taxpayer that can be held personally responsible for old taxes.  New owners are never on the hook for old taxes.

    Well, almost never.  G.S. 105-366 creates a few exceptions to the general rule. Read more »

  • Local State of Emergency Declarations – Some FAQs

    Authored by: on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

    Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on North Carolina’s coast.  State and local officials are preparing for significant impacts.  The Governor has issued a state of emergency declaration for much of central and eastern North Carolina.  Local officials wonder whether they should issue local declarations within their own jurisdictions.  Can they?  Should they?  If so, how do they?

    This post answers some frequently asked questions about the authority of cities and counties to issue local state of emergency declarations.  For those who might be looking for a quick and easy resource, the School of Government has template state of emergency declarations available on our emergency management website at under “Sample Documents.”

    Read more »

  • UPDATED: Blood Exposures and NC Communicable Disease Law

    Authored by: on Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    What happens when a person has an accidental exposure to someone else’s blood? This is one of my most frequently asked questions. I wrote about it in 2010, but it is time for an update. Since my original post, the bloodborne pathogen rules have been expanded to include hepatitis C virus, and I’ve encountered some new questions that I’d like to address. It’s probably also time to drop the dated reference to vampire literature, as popular culture seems to have moved on to zombies.

    This post retains the question and answer format of the first post, with a few new questions and some expanded answers. Section 1 describes what bloodborne pathogens are and the two sets of rules that address them. Section 2 provides an introduction to the rules that address occupational exposures. Section 3 goes into more detail about the rules that address non-occupational exposures.

    Read more »

  • Can the neighbor speak? Can the neighbor appeal? Standing and quasi-judicial hearings

    Authored by: on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

    A local development board is set to hold a quasi-judicial hearing for a development permit. The neighbor across the street from the proposed project is set to oppose it.  She wants to voice her concerns in the quasi-judicial hearing—and appeal to court if necessary. Does the neighbor have a right to participate in the hearing? What about a right to appeal the decision? This blog considers those questions in light of North Carolina caselaw including a recent decision from the state Court of Appeals. Read more »

  • A Foreclosure Fiasco

    Authored by: on Monday, September 26th, 2016

    When done properly, a property tax foreclosure can be an efficient method of satisfying old property taxes while transferring property to new owners who are more likely to pay future property taxes.  When not done properly, a tax foreclosure can produce a hornets’ nest of litigation.  A recent decision from the North Carolina Court of Appeals offers an example of the latter unfortunate situation. Read more »