Politics & Government

After last year’s legislative session, city leaders in NC watch, worry

After efforts last year to strip cities and towns of zoning powers and tax revenue, mayors across North Carolina will be keeping a close eye on Jones Street this year.

The repeal of the privilege license tax on businesses will leave a hole in many municipal budgets, and Gov. Pat McCrory has promised to help find other revenue sources. One option is a special sales tax that would apply within city limits – a taxing power municipalities don’t currently have.

If the legislature doesn’t help cities plug the privilege tax hole, local leaders have said they’ll likely raise property taxes starting in July.

Also on municipal agendas: Restoring the historic preservation tax credit, which ended Dec. 31. While McCrory and House leaders support the program, Senate Republicans don’t want to bring it back.

“We have thousands of (historic) sites across the state sitting waiting for a developer to help spark that new economic engine,” said Julie White of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, which represents 26 of the state’s largest cities. “Without those tax credits, a lot of those projects don’t make financial sense.”

Mayors are also worried about several bills that fizzled last session and could return. One bill would ban cities from protecting trees on private property. Another would prevent cities from dictating design standards – such as materials and colors – for residential construction. And a third would end protest petitions. Filed by neighbors of a development site, the petitions force a super-majority vote on the city council in order to approve the project.

Staff writer Colin Campbell