Representatives from towns throughout southern Mecklenburg County will head to Raleigh on March 18 for Town Hall Day.
Each year, the League of Municipalities, an advocacy group for cities and towns throughout the state, organizes the event, in which legislators clear their calendars to meet with local government officials and hear their concerns.
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, several commissioners, Town Manager Hazen Blodgett and Assistant Town Manager Jamie Justice will attend.
Mint Hill Town Manager Brian Welch said several elected officials from Mint Hill also are going, and Pineville Town Manager Haynes Brigman and Mayor Jack Edwards also will attend.
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Taylor said Town Hall Day is a way to continue building relationships with state elected officials who represent Matthews and the surrounding area.
At their last meeting, Matthews commissioners adopted a legislative agenda – a set of concerns – to make their message to legislators consistent. Most of the items concern recently passed or proposed legislation that restricts the power of local governments.
The Matthews legislative agenda includes:
▪ Opposition to any legislation that would restrict cities and towns’ ability to regulate aesthetic and design-based standards.
▪ Support for a replacement revenue source due to the loss of $185,000 in privilege-license funds.
▪ Legislation to give municipalities the option to use electronic legal public notices in lieu of publication in the newspaper.
▪ Reinstatement of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program.
▪ Supporting legislation that would provide funding for state-level incentives to keep North Carolina competitive in its efforts to attract economic development.
▪ Keeping the current law regarding protest petitions.
▪ Continuing to allow municipalities an extraterritorial zoning district outside their municipal limits.
Taylor said his board’s concerns go far deeper than those few items.
“It’s not just these points, it’s the theme of what’s been happening in Raleigh for the last three or four years. The General Assembly seems to continually be whittling away at local control,” Taylor said. “Every time we turn around, they are trying to prevent us from doing something that is best for our jurisdiction.
“Hopefully, the relationships that we build with our local legislators will help them better understand our concerns and prompt them to work to preserve as much local control as possible.”
Brigman said the Pineville Town Board supports the League of Municipalities legislative agenda although it has not passed a separate resolution.
He also said erosion of local control is a main concern for Pineville, particularly recent legislation that prohibits municipalities from collecting business privilege-license taxes, beginning in the next fiscal year.
“The loss of the privilege-license tax impacts a small town like us dramatically. We collect about $700,000 a year in business privilege-license tax, and that’s about 6 percent of our overall general fund budget,” said Brigman.
Welch said Mint Hill leaders share surrounding towns’ concerns, although the business privilege-license tax doesn’t directly affect Mint Hill because it doesn’t issue business licenses.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.