Recent Blog Posts

  • Refunding Other Taxes and Fees

    Authored by: on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

    Time for a pop quiz: G.S. 105-381 governs refunds and releases (aka waivers) of which of these local government taxes and fees?

    A.  Property taxes.

    B.  Occupancy taxes.

    C.  Solid waste fees.

    D.  Water & sewer fees.

    E.  All of the above.

    The answer is . . . Read more »

  • The Future of the Affordable Care Act and the Future of My Guide to the ACA

    Authored by: on Thursday, December 1st, 2016

    As some readers know, I have been working on a guide to the Affordable Care Act for local government employers for the last year. That book manuscript was set to go to the printer on November 17th – the week after the presidential election. With the November 8th election of Donald Trump as President and of a majority-Republican United States Congress, the question naturally arises: what will happen to the Affordable Care Act? After all, both Mr. Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the ACA. Must employers still observe the ACA’s employer mandate and file information reports on compliance with the employer mandate with the IRS in 2017? For myself and for the School of Government, an additional question arose: should we proceed with the publication of a book about a law that may shortly be repealed? To learn more about what might happen to the ACA and when, and about how to access my book manuscript while the ACA is still in effect, read on. Read more »

  • Donations to Local Governments

    Authored by: on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

    For many this is the season of giving. In that spirit, this post addresses frequently asked questions about donations to local governments. Read more »

  • What the Indefinite Suspension of the New Overtime Rule Means for Local Government Employers

    Authored by: on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

    For now, the new overtime rule that was scheduled to become effective on Thursday, December 1, will not go into effect. On Tuesday, November 22, a federal trial court judge in Texas issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing and enforcing the new rule. Despite being issued in Texas, this is a nationwide injunction. Many employers had hoped that something would put the brakes on the upcoming budget-busting increase in the minimum salary required for an employee to be exempt for overtime. Now that wish has been fulfilled, but it brings with it an indefinite period of uncertainty. A preliminary injunction is only temporary. And no one quite knows what will happen next or when it will happen. So just what is a local government employer to do in the meantime? Read more »

  • Post-Election Questions? Blog Posts Have Answers

    Authored by: on Monday, November 28th, 2016

    Now that the votes are in, let the questions begin!

    When do new county commissioners get sworn in and who can administer the oaths of office? What are the requirements for the organizational meeting? What powers do the “lame duck” commissioners have prior to the changeover? Who is required to take the mandatory ethics training, and what other training is available for new and returning local government board members? Now that I’m elected, can I still contract with the county?

    Coates’ Canons Local Government Law Blog has the answers. This post directs you to some of our archived posts that deal with post-election issues.

    Read more »

  • The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

    Authored by: on Monday, November 21st, 2016

    A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built in the early twentieth century: the Hare House and the Tortoise House. The houses retain their historic elements and contribute to the architectural character of the neighborhood. While the houses have seen better days, they are not falling in.  At least not yet.  The houses are on the path toward demolition, just at different speeds. For the Hare House, the owner wants to tear the thing down. Now.  As for the Tortoise House, the years without maintenance are starting to show.  The slow process of demolition by neglect has begun, and without some maintenance soon it will be beyond repair.

    What, if anything, can the town do to avoid the demolition of these historic resources?  Can the town slow down the speedy demolition of the Hare House? And can the town speed up maintenance to avoid the slow-motion demolition of the Tortoise House?

    This blog explores two options under the authority for local historic preservation: (1) delayed certificates of appropriateness for demolition and (2) ordinances to address demolition by neglect.  Read more »

  • Pushing Back on Non-Profit Property Tax Exemptions

    Authored by: on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

    $19 billion.  That’s the rough market value of exempt property owned by non-profit educational institutions and charitable hospitals throughout North Carolina, according to the most recent figures from the N.C. Department of Revenue.

    Under G.S. 105-278.4 and G.S. 105-278.8, property owned by private schools, colleges and universities or by charitable hospitals is exempt from property taxes so long as that property is used for an exempt purpose.

    Using average tax rates, the educational and charitable hospital exemptions cost counties somewhere around $125 million in property tax revenue annually.  Toss in at least another $100 million or so for city property taxes and we’re looking at a maybe quarter of a billion dollars in local government revenue eliminated each year by those two exemptions. Read more »