September 2015 Updates
· After a nearly three-month standoff between House and Senate Republicans over policy and spending differences, the North Carolina General Assembly finally has a state budget. The measure, which spends $21.7 billion this year and a little more next year, pays for experience-based raises for public school teachers and confirms raising minimum teacher salaries to $35,000. All state employees and teachers also will get $750 bonuses at the end of the year. Other state workers in targeted fields will get permanent raises. There's also $600 million set aside this year for emergency reserves and government building repairs.
· North Carolina's primaries, both for the presidential election and all other elections, would be held on March 15 under a bill reviewed by the Senate Rules Committee.
· Counties would have more options to raise money for public schools and community colleges under a bill that cleared the House Finance Committee last week. Senate Bill 605 is a sprawling measure spanning technical corrections and minor clarifications to substantial policy proposals that stalled earlier in the session. In one key provision, the bill would allow counties to raise their sales taxes up to their current statutory limits to pay for education-related expenses in both K-12 classrooms as well as at community colleges. The measure is a simplified form of a bill from last session that pitted education and transportation needs against one another.
- HB 721, a bill signed into law in August by Governor Pat McCrory, will help address issues developers are having with bonding and letters of credit for subdivision roads and other improvements. The bill limits the ability of local governments to hold developer performance guarantees, such as bonds or letters of credit, for excessive periods before accepting the improvements. It also prohibits the practice of putting holds on permits or COs in one portion of a subdivision as leverage to require improvements to other parts of the development.
· Taxes on NC Businesses:
o North Carolina's corporate income tax rate will drop to 4 percent this year and could drop to 3 percent in future years if the state meets certain income triggers.
- The state would adjust bank holding company provisions but repeal a bank privilege tax. The net result is neither a gain nor loss for state revenue.
- The budget phases in a change to the way corporations are taxed, shifting the state to a "single sales factor" system. This type of change is particularly advantageous to manufacturers, who will pay based on how much they sell rather than how big their payroll is, or how much equipment they own and use. Projections show this change will decrease state revenue by $7.9 million in the current tax year when it takes effect Jan. 1, 2016. By 2018-19, corporations will be paying $70 million less per year than under current law.
- The law changes initial franchise tax fees paid by businesses but offsets that by simplifying the franchise tax calculation. The net result is neither a gain nor loss for state revenue.
- The Senate voted 46-2 on Wednesday to give preliminary approval to a plan to put a $2 billion bond proposal before North Carolina voters. A final vote is expected Thursday, and the House will likely vote on the bond package next week. Under the compromise proposal, which was rolled out Tuesday, University of North Carolina campuses would receive more than half of the bond money – $980 million for new construction and $45 million for repairs and renovations.
- Urban legislators from both parties are teaming up in a bid to repeal a new provision in state law, which bars the state Department of Transportation from contributing more than $500,000 to any light-rail project. The limit, a late addition to the budget law, cancels DOT’s commitment to provide $138 million for the planned $1.5 billion Durham-Orange light-rail line. Critics, including Gov. Pat McCrory, said the measure undermined the spirit of the 2013 Strategic Transportation Investments law, designed to remove politics from decisions about where to spend transportation money.
- State and federal authorities have approved plans — but not the funding — for a high-speed passenger rail line between Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., that would cut nearly in half the travel time between the two capitals and return rail service to a part of Southside Virginia that saw its tracks torn up nearly 30 years ago. The project is part of a larger plan to bring faster train service between Washington and Atlanta. The Richmond-to-Raleigh route would take just over 2 hours, compared with the 3.5 hours it takes today.
- Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker has announced his candidacy for NC Commissioner of Labor.
- State Sen. Josh Stein of Wake County announced that he is running for North Carolina Attorney General. Stein, a Democrat, is looking to replace Roy Cooper, who is expected to run for governor as a Democrat. Sen. Buck Newton, a Republican from Wilson, is running on the Republican side.
- Planners of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Project say they plan to press forward despite a new state budget that caps funding for this kind of work. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the budget, which includes a provision that limits state funding on light rail to $500,000 per project.
· County Commissioners could ask voters as soon as November 2016 to approve $125M in debt for affordable housing and seniors.
- Residents and business leaders in Wake County communities can review and discuss the latest flood hazard and flood risk maps at four public meetings during the month of October. Now available digitally, preliminary flood hazard information is layered on top of the county's parcel data so property owners can better determine potential risks to their land. Open house events will be held at the following locations:
Ø Monday, October 5, 5–7 p.m. Holly Springs Cultural Center - 300 West Ballentine St., Holly Springs
Ø Thursday, October 8, 6–8 p.m. Wake Forest Town Hall – 301 S. Brooks Street, Wake Forest
Ø Wednesday, October 7, 7–9 p.m. 801 High House Road, Cary - Bond Park Community Center
Ø Thursday, October 15, 4–8 p.m. 5857 Barwell Park Drive, Raleigh - Barwell Rd Community Center & Park
· The public meetings provide an opportunity for residents to see the results of the revised studies and new flood hazard areas. County and municipal employees will be on hand to help residents locate their particular properties from the flood hazard data and determine the level of flood risk. Representatives from the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program (NCFMP) will make a short presentation on the flood study process, how the new digital hazard data can be used to reduce future flood losses, and how the preliminary hazard data may impact flood insurance and floodplain management. Attendees will also see a demonstration of the North Carolina Flood Risk Information System. Following the presentation, state emergency management representatives will be available to answer questions about the hazard data update process, flood insurance coverage and floodplain management. NCFMP was established in 2000, with a mandate to update flood hazard maps for all 100 counties. Through a partnership with FEMA, the state was charged with creating and maintaining the Flood Insurance Study for all North Carolina communities. Since 2003, the NCFMP has analyzed, updated and digitized the flood hazard data for all 100 counties and associated communities in North Carolina. This preliminary flood hazard data was developed based on local community requests for new flood hazard risk studies for the updated streams. Only those portions of the revised streams have been updated; therefore, some communities in the county will not have new flood hazard data, although adjacent counties may have some updates due to the seamless statewide format for the mapping program. Residents can access the flood hazard data online at http://fris.nc.gov/fris. Digital flood hazard data can also be viewed here. For more information, contact Wake County Environmental Services at 919-856-7541 or the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program at 919-825-2341.
- Academy Street’s new look will be pedestrian friendly and support more outdoor events and festivals. The new, $8 million streetscape will also connect a future downtown park with the arts center.
- Election Day is less than two weeks away, and early voting starts in Cary on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Election Day is Tuesday, October 6, 2015. This year’s election is a Town of Cary Municipal Election. Both Mayor Weinbrecht and At-Large Town Council Member Lori Bush are running unopposed for reelection to their current spots. Four new candidates are running for the vacant District D seat on Cary Town Council. This seat, which represents the southwest portion of Cary, was formerly held by Gale Adcock, who is now representing Cary in the North Carolina General Assembly. Two new candidates are running against incumbent Don Frantz for the District B seat, which represents Downtown Cary and its surrounding areas. You can read about the new and returning candidates in our Candidate 2015 series.
- Shortbread Lofts developers propose up to 165 apartments, retail and offices. Town Council and residents are concerned about student vs. family housing, effect on neighborhood. Council members advise developers to talk with community before submitting official application
- A $5.25 million economic development incentive package approved by the Durham City Council this week will help fund the first phase of the the planned 1.7 million square foot science and technology "Innovation District."
- Holly Springs saw a 26 percent increase in the number of people working in the town between 2010 and 2015. Town officials and staff attribute increase to business retention and expansion efforts. Town staff attracted RoviSys, an automation and information solutions company, to Holly Springs Business Park
- The Town Council approved Lake Crabtree Apartments, a four-story apartment building of 250 units at the corner of Evans Road and Aviation Parkway.
- The town also recently approved 250 to 275 new apartments at Perimeter Park. There are several other residential projects still awaiting approval in Morrisville, and Cary has also given the OK to hundreds of new apartments along N.C. 54, just south of the Morrisville border
- Morrisville Chamber of Commerce will hold its Candidate Forum on Thursday, October 22. For more information and to register, visit their website at http://business.morrisvillechamber.org/events/details/candidates-forum-2015-1928
- The Raleigh City Council unanimously adopted a Downtown Plan that outlines a 10-year vision for the City’s central core. The plan defines a vision for Raleigh’s Downtown growth and development, identifies themes for that growth, defines five catalytic project areas within the Downtown area, and three major recommendations for implementing the plan. View the plan HERE.
- The Raleigh Urban Design Center is hosting an event: Downtown Plan: The Next 10 Years. It will be held at the City of Raleigh Museum on October 14th from 12:00 – 1:30. No registration is required. For more information, click HERE.
- A text change to create a new use for short-term rentals was given a 90-day time extension. Travis Crane, planning and zoning administrator for the city of Raleigh, said that city staff would be able to bring back the text change within one month for planning commission review.
- The public hearing for the city of Raleigh’s Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area got off to a rocky start as Raleigh residents with ties to the affected area showed disapproval of the plan and the lack of communication from the city. The NRSA encompasses two historically African American communities — College Park and Washington Terrace, both of which are in proximity to St. Augustine University. The public hearing was held open until November 3 to allow for more input from the community.
- At the City Council meeting on September 15th, Raleigh based architects and urban designer Ted Van Dyk, Frank Harmon, and Michael Stevenson made public comments regarding the Hillsborough Street roundabouts in the phase 2 streetscape plan. Citing concerns about cost, size, impacts on lots, and disruption, they asked Council to paint line markings in place of the future roundabouts to get a better “feel” of the layout. Council voted 7 to 1 (Crowder voted against) to paint the markings first.
- City Council will hold UDO Remapping work sessions on Mondays resuming on October 12th from 4:00-6:00 to receive the public comments from the public hearings.