NCLM Southern City, Volume 73, Issue 4 2023



Southern City is a publication for and about North Carolina municipalities, published quarterly by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Volume 73 Number 4 4th Quarter 2023 Executive Director & Publisher: Rose Vaughn Williams Editor: Isabella Mormando Writer: Jack Cassidy Writer: Stephanie Hughes Writer: Scott Mooneyham Photography: Town of Wilkesboro, Amanda Bradshaw, Ben Brown Southern City (USPS 827-280) is published quarterly for $25 per year ($2 per year to member municipalities, $1 for single copies) by the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Phone: 919-715-4000 Postmaster: Send address changes to: Southern City 434 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1900 Raleigh, NC 27601 Advertising & Design: Advertising Sales: Ronnie Jacko Design & Layout: Jon Cannon For advertising opportunities and deadlines, contact LLM Publications at 503-445-2234 or ©2023 NC League of Municipalities All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. PUBLISHED Winter 2023 20 MAYOR ELIZABETH MOREY LEADS BY LISTENING SOUTHERN CITY

INSIDE THIS ISSUE 10 14 16 20 24 30 32 34 6 8 36 38 34 10 WRITERS THIS ISSUE ISABELLA MORMANDO Communications Associate JACK CASSIDY NCLM Learning and Development Project Manager STEPHANIE HUGHES Communications & Multimedia Strategist (ARP) SCOTT MOONEYHAM NCLM Director of Political Communication & Coordination Passenger Rail Expansion Rolling Down the Tracks Rail Response, an initiative of the NC Metro Mayors Coalition, has concluded a series of regional meetings to explore the intercity passenger rail federal bipartisan infrastructure bill opportunities. Legislative Session Concludes... Mostly The 2023 session of the General Assembly has largely concluded, and for cities and towns there was again a lot of local infrastructure investment to celebrate. That success was tempered by a return to traditional fights over local land-use planning authority and the ability of local residents to chart the future of their municipality’s character. Inaugural Risk Management Services “Trust Matters” Conference The League hosted its first Risk Management Services Trust Matters Conference where our staff presented to members on various risk prevention topics. Mayor Elizabeth Morey Leads by Listening Through community engagement and a citizen-first approach, Morey ensures Southern Shores is not just a toptier beach destination, but also a true hometown. NCLM and the American Rescue Plan: Services, Support, and a Thriving Future for North Carolina The League’s ARP Service Line is more than just an assistance program to help in the short term. It’s a network of support that will assist our cities and towns for many years to come. ARP Funds Allow Town of Newton Grove to Fix Outdated Water/Sewer System Newton Grove was struggling with an outdated water and sewer system when the town received a once-in-ageneration opportunity through the American Rescue Plan. Town of Pikeville Successfully Pilots the Municipal Account Software Program Pikeville was celebrated by the League for being one of the first pilot towns to implement the League’s Municipal Accounting Services (MAS) Program. Wilkesboro Invests in Community Through Creative Use of ARP-enabled Funds Wilkesboro continues to invest in its growing community through the opening of a new universal playground, made possible by ARP funds. Board of Directors Speaking Out Local Preemption, Bite by Bite Taking the Field With ARP, an Opportunity, a Responsibility, and a Role Well Played Board of Trustees 5

FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT Mark-Anthony Middleton Mayor Pro Tem, Durham SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT Martha Sue Hall Mayor Pro Tem, Albemarle PRESIDENT William Harris Commissioner, Fuquay-Varina Board of Directors 2023–2024 WORKING AS ONE. ADVANCING ALL. DISTRICT 1 Mayor Elizabeth Morey Southern Shores DISTRICT 11 Council Member Phyllis Harris Mount Holly CHARLOTTE Council Member Malcolm Graham DISTRICT 2 Council Member Brian Jackson Jacksonville DURHAM Mayor Leonardo Williams DISTRICT 12 Mayor Zeb Smathers Canton DISTRICT 7 Alderman Sona Cooper Spring Lake MANAGER City Manager Michael Peoples Gastonia PRESIDENT APPOINTMENT Mayor Karen Alexander Salisbury PRESIDENT APPOINTMENT Mayor Glenn York Zebulon CLERK City Clerk Brenda Blanco New Bern DISTRICT 9 Mayor Michael Horn Lewisville MANAGER City Manager Tasha Logan-Ford High Point DISTRICT 6 Council Member Satish Garimella Morrisville WINSTON-SALEM Council Member Robert Clark ATTORNEY City Attorney Karen McDonald Raleigh DISTRICT 10 Mayor Constantine Kutteh Statesville MANAGER Town Manager Jonathan Russell Washington DISTRICT 3 Mayor Terry Mann Whiteville FAYETTEVILLE Council Member Kathy Jensen AT LARGE Council Member Owen Thomas Lumberton DISTRICT 4 Mayor Jody McLeod Clayton GREENSBORO Council Member At-Large Yvonne Johnson AT LARGE Mayor Don Hardy Kinston DISTRICT 5 Mayor Pro Tem TJ Walker Rocky Mount RALEIGH Council Member Jonathan Melton AT LARGE Mayor Dennis Barber Newport SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 6


North Carolina cities and towns have plenty to be grateful for when it comes to this year’s legislative session. For a third straight year, state lawmakers in Raleigh provided a tremendous boost to local infrastructure investment, whether involving water, sewer, stormwater or transportation. With that in mind, I urge you to once again thank your locallyelected legislators for these investments as you see them in your community. That being said, we also cannot overlook another trend that occurred as the General Assembly met over this past year. And we need to acknowledge that it is troubling. We saw a number of local bills filed, and several passed, which eroded local control over land-use planning and how municipal elections take place. Local bills are those that can only affect a small portion of the state and can only cover certain subject matter areas as laid out in the North Carolina Constitution. For example, the state constitution prohibits local bills affecting health and sanitation, and there have been some overturned in the courts when they have strayed into this area. The governor also has no veto power over local bills. In recent years, the League of Municipalities—its members and staff working effectively together—has done a great job beating back statewide legislation that undermines our local decision-making. But it is these local bills, often due to some specific and unique circumstances in individual communities, that have gained traction. This past year, we saw local bills de-annexing property in the Town of Holly Springs and making permanent a ban on the use of extraterritorial jurisdiction in the Town of Leland. There was also local legislation that made all municipal elections in communities in Madison County partisan, against the wishes of local officials. WILLIAM HARRIS NCLM President SPEAKING OUT Local Preemption, Bite by Bite A local bill also creates local civil service boards in Greensboro and Winston-Salem— against the wishes of those cities—to review personnel actions, potentially disrupting the chain of command with local police departments and making it more difficult to remove officers involved in the misuse of force. Yet another local bill switched the election methods in the City of Gastonia from at-large, districted elections to ward district elections, again, against the wishes of local officials. Finally, the state budget bill saw some lastminute provisions pop up that pre-empted municipal zoning codes in Dare and Wake Counties under select circumstances. Many of these changes were made in bills that began as fairly noncontroversial measures, only to be amended to include the controversial provisions late in their consideration, giving local officials little opportunity to allow their objections to be known. That being the case, there is really only one means to try to stop this type of legislation: Talk to the members of your local legislative delegation. Do all you can to develop good relationships with them. Let them know specifically about these types of developments with local bills and urge that they come to you for discussions if there is some matter in which someone wants changes via local bills that affect your city or town. If you have strained relations with a particular legislator, seek out common allies to help. As I end this column, I want to wish all of you a happy holiday season and New Year. I know that each of you does great work in your city or town, and I appreciate all of the work that many of you do to help make NCLM a strong advocacy and service organization. SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 8


ver late summer and fall, five cities across the state hosted meetings organized by Rail Response, a project of the North Carolina Metro Mayors Coalition, examining how more investment in intercity passenger rail can bring economic and other benefits to North Carolina. Those meetings—held in Wilmington, Durham, Asheville, Rocky Mount, and Salisbury—were a rousing success, bringing together community leaders at each stop, as well as media coverage that brought more public awareness about the possibilities of intercity passenger rail expansion and improvements. The larger effort was organized by the members of the Metro Mayors Coalition and NCLM staff as the Federal Railroad Administration began considering an expansion of passenger rail routes through funding provided by the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in late 2021. In addition to these regional meetings, the Rail Response workgroup has put together a report that makes recommendations on ways that North Carolina cities can encourage intercity passenger rail investments. The workgroup was led by co-chairs Susan Kluttz, former Salisbury mayor and former Secretary of the NC Dept. of Cultural Resources, and Nick Tennyson, former mayor of Durham and former Secretary of the NC Dept. of Transportation. The other members were Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, Rocky Mount Mayor O LEAGUE UPDATE Passenger Rail Expansion Rolling Down the Tracks SCOTT MOONEYHAM Director of Political Communication and Coordination Sandy Roberson, Concord Mayor Bill Dusch, and Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. Among the findings of the group: 1. Grassroots organization is critical: The best transportation projects are locally owned and supported. Grassroots work is one of the most powerful tools cities can leverage to boost the state’s competitiveness for federal grants and energize local communities around the possibilities and potential benefits of intercity passenger rail. Community forums, local programming, and canvassing are a few examples of how city officials can educate residents on intercity passenger rail and proactively garner support and enthusiasm for development or expansion of intercity passenger rail services in their community. SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 10

2. Mayors are most powerful as a collective: Mayors have more power as a group than they do singularly. Transportation across city and county lines; forging connections with mayors in surrounding communities and across the state not only demonstrates a common interest in the expansion of intercity passenger rail, but also creates the opportunity for the holistic development of rail networks within the communities. 3. Communication is key: Establishing open communication with constituents, city council, staff, neighboring communities, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation ensures continuity, transparency, and cohesion across all levels of government. Crossfunctional alliances and communication create opportunities for collaboration on complex issues like intercity passenger rail where success depends, not only on a unified understanding of the issue and the solution offered, but on significant resources and financial contributions from all persons at the table. 4. Dedicated funding from state government can boost local efforts: A dedicated stream of recurring dollars from the state can bolster that state’s competitiveness for federal grants and create a stable investment in intercity passenger rail for years to come. Maintaining consistent communication with legislators and extending invitations for them to interact in your communities first-hand helps build meaningful working relationships that may prove beneficial when advocating for dedicated funding sources. It is always helpful to take any opportunity to leverage, research, data, and anecdotes to inform legislators of the public benefits of intercity passenger rail and how a state investment in the expansion of services will have positive economic and social benefits statewide. Those first three findings fit well the accomplishments of the five regional Rail Response meetings. At each, municipal officials and community leaders heard an overview of current The state’s goal is to eventually connect cities and towns from the coast to the mountains, from Wilmington to Asheville, with passenger rail service and to see those numbers climb even more. continues on page 13 passenger rail in the state and the possibilities of additional funding through the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The legislation includes $66 billion in passenger and freight rail infrastructure investment, with $44 billion to be distributed through the Federal Railroad Administration’s discretionary grant program. As a part of the planning process, the NC Department of Transportation has applied for 13 planning grants of $500,000, each corresponding to proposals to connect more North Carolina cities by passenger rail or make improvements to existing routes. Currently, 16 cities in the state are served by passenger rail service. The Piedmont and Carolinian trains, part of North Carolina’s Amtrak service, each make a morning and evening run between Raleigh and Charlotte. The trains stop in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury, and Kannapolis. The Carolinian also makes stops in Selma, Wilson, and Rocky Mount in the eastern part of the state. NC By Train, the state’s Amtrak intercity passenger rail service, posted its highest total ridership in 2022 with more than 522,000 passengers using the service. The state’s goal is to eventually connect cities and towns from the coast to the mountains, from Wilmington to Asheville, League Update: Passenger Rail Expansion NCLM.ORG 11

League Update: Passenger Rail Expansion Sean Egan, Transportation Director City of Durham Susan Kluttz, Co-Chair of Metro Mayor Passenger Rail Workgroup, shaking hands with Stephen Gardner. Mayor of Salisbury Karen Alexander with Stephen Gardner, Amtrack CEO. Mayor of Salisbury Karen Alexander SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 12

with passenger rail service and to see those numbers climb even more. The final stop for the Rail Response meetings, held at the restored and majestic Salisbury historic train depot in October, was perhaps the most dramatic. With local news cameras rolling, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner arrived by train as the meeting got underway. “We are going to be investing the most that we have ever invested in the network,” Gardner told attendees. “We are here to support your vision.” He also discussed the importance of efforts like Rail Response. “I want to say how important it is for communities to come together and express how important this is, not only to NCDOT but to your legislators,” Gardner said. While Gardner’s participation in the final meeting may have provided fireworks, all five events attracted key community support. All saw local mayors or others writing in their local newspapers about the importance of the effort. All included key community partners like local chambers of commerce. The effort should pay dividends as the process of intercity passenger rail expansion moves forward across the country and grants are awarded for that expanded service. The effort should pay dividends as the process of intercity passenger rail expansion moves forward across the country and grants are awarded for that expanded service. We are going to be investing the most that we have ever invested in the network. We are here to support your vision. I want to say how important it is for communities to come together and express how important this is, not only to NCDOT but to your legislators. » Stephen Gardner, CEO, Amtrak continued from page 11 League Update: Passenger Rail Expansion Stephen Gardner, Amtrack CEO NCLM.ORG 13

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE n recent years, state lawmakers haven’t exactly left Raleigh with a lot of pomp, circumstance, and finality. Instead, they have typically concluded virtually all of their business at some point and time, but then left the door open for a return with readjournment dates that sometimes result in actual legislating but more often open and close without any action. This year, that “mostly concluded” date came on October 25. As previously mentioned in these pages, the expectation was that a final budget agreement would be good for cities and towns, even as NLCM and its members returned to some familiar legislative battles over local land-use authority after something of a hiatus during the pandemic years. That state budget was finally agreed on in early October, and as thought, it once again treated municipalities well regarding local infrastructure investments. Still, a handful of policy provisions were not so welcome. The $30 billion state spending plan, which Gov. Roy Cooper allowed to become law but without his signature, includes over $3 billion in local infrastructure spending. Among those appropriations are individual earmarks of $1.9 billion for drinking water and wastewater and an increase of $15.5 million for street funding under the Powell Bill in each year of the two-year budget, bringing the total to $185.8 million in the second year. Other major funding items include: • $30 million to the Disaster Relief and Mitigation Fund and the Transportation Infrastructure Resiliency Funds. • $107.8 million for industrial megasite readiness and preparation. • $10 million for local governments to evaluate areas of less than 1,000 acres for industrial development sites. • $10 million to local governments for coastal storm damage mitigation. • $30 million for local and state parks and beach access, with another $12.5 million going to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to provide matching grants for park facilities for persons with disabilities. • $17.5 million for trail development programs. • $35 million to the Housing Finance Agency for multi-family affordable housing. I Legislative Session Concludes... Mostly SCOTT MOONEYHAM Director of Political Communication and Coordination The legislation also makes changes to the Criminal Justice Fellows Program in an effort to increase the number of graduates available for law enforcement jobs, as well as provides the NC Police Chiefs Association with some funding to assist local agencies with employee performance and wellness programs. Concerning policy provisions include one that will subject local governments to oversight by the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Affairs, a legislative oversight body traditionally focused on state operations and one that would prevent retail plastic bag bans or fees, as well as penalties for retailers due to shopping carts being taken and discarded away from retail sites. Also troubling were some provisions affecting local zoning authority in some specific circumstances in Dare and Wake counties. Over the course of the legislative session, NCLM had pushed back successfully on statewide bills undermining local zoning authority. They included efforts by homebuilders and other groups to utilize a national housing affordability crisis to upend local land-use regulation and planning in a variety of bills. Specifically, bills would have eliminated extraterritorial jurisdiction, abolished single-family-only zoning, and required that accessory dwelling units, or in-law suites, be allowed in all residential neighborhoods. In each, the efforts of NCLM members and staff worked to stop the legislation. To some degree, that was because NCLM was prepared for these fights. A report on housing, produced in association with the NC County Commissioners Association, used real data from local planning and building inspection departments to show how much growing jurisdictions across the state are doing to address housing and increase density in areas where appropriate. It also demonstrated the efforts that local governments are undertaking to improve inspection processes and included recommendations for similar procedures to duplicate those efforts. But on another front, local elections, legislation was approved that undetermined local decisions on election districts and whether elections would be held on a partisan or non-partisan basis. Although these bills affected only a few jurisdictions, the use of local legislation to accomplish what has proven difficult through statewide legislation is a concern that NCLM will need to monitor in the future. [The] state budget was finally agreed on in early October, and as thought, it once again treated municipalities well regarding local infrastructure investments. Still, a handful of policy provisions were not so welcome. SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 14

Positively, a number of municipalities saw occupancy tax authority granted, which will allow more cities and towns to both enhance tourist attractions and market those attractions. The publication of this issue of Southern City should coincide with a detailed review of all legislation affecting cities and towns in our annual End-of-Session Bulletin. If you have not seen that publication, place contact staff and we will direct you to it on our website. What follows is a look at our Legislative Goal Accomplishments included in the End-of-Session Bulletin. GOAL: Create an adequate and permanent funding stream for local infrastructure. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill, included over $3 billion in local infrastructure spending. Among those appropriations are individual earmarks of $1.9 billion for drinking water and wastewater. (Sec. 12.2) GOAL: Expand state transportation funding streams for construction and maintenance of municipal and state-owned secondary roads. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill, expands state Powell Bill funding by 10%, to $170 million in the new fiscal year. (Sec. 41.5) The budget bill also includes $30 million for the Disaster Relief and Mitigation Fund and the Transportation Infrastructure Resiliency Funds. (Sec. 5.9) GOAL: Expand incentives that encourage regionalization of water and sewer, as well as other municipal services, when appropriate. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill, sets aside another $10 million for the state Viable Utility Reserve in undirected funds for distressed water and sewer utilities, as that program continues to work to address utility systems’ deferred maintenance needs, including through regionalization plans. GOAL: Expand incentives and funding for local economic development. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill, provides $107. 8 million to assist in economic development megasite preparedness, helping local communities create sites attractive to new businesses. Another $10 million from the bill would go to evaluate areas of less than 1,000 acres for industrial sites (Sec. 11.2) GOAL: Expand federal and state resources for affordable housing. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill, $35 million to the Housing Finance Agency for multi-family affordable housing. GOAL: Enhance state systems and resources for local law enforcement officer recruitment, training, and retention. Passage of HB 140 Civilian Traffic Investigators allows cities to employ civilian investigators to investigate motor vehicle accidents, freeing up sworn law enforcement officers to meet other public safety needs. Passage of SL 2023-134, the state budget bill (Sec. 18.3) includes additional funding within the Criminal Justice Fellows Program and modifications designed to increase the number of graduates. Legislative Update: Legislative Session Concludes... Mostly NCLM.ORG 15

his October the NC League of Municipalities debuted its first Trust Matters Conference. The gathering was hosted at the Sheraton Hotel in Research Triangle Park. Participants from around the state traveled to attend in person where our Risk Management Services team presented a variety of important topics for cities and towns. Opening the conference, NCLM Director of Business Services, Lisa Kinsey, detailed the history and management of the three insurance pools offered by the League: • Property and Liability • Workers’ Compensation • Health Benefits Trust Following this information, a lively panel discussion covered some common best practices in risk management. One particular topic covered in this session is how to successfully and safely conduct special events in cities and towns. The panelists emphasized the importance of implementing special event policies, task forces, following correct permitting processes, and post-event review procedures. Panelists Amy Whisnant and Matt Reid, NCLM Risk Control Consultants, Ryan Ezzell, Director of Underwriting, and Kinsey answered specific questions from attendees. Scottie Harris, Fire Chief in the Town of Weaverville, took home some advice for the town’s upcoming holiday parades. “We looked at how we can revamp some safety procedures and still give the community a somewhat traditional holiday parade,” Harris said. He mentioned that the panel “gave an opportunity for feedback and asking questions… we were able to network and get good ideas to move forward.” T RMS UPDATE Inaugural Risk Management Services “Trust Matters” Conference ISABELLA MORMANDO Communications Associate continues on page 18 SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 16

RMS Update: “Trust Matters” Conference The conference also featured presentations from NCLM Human Resources Consultant Lou Bunch, Fire Services Risk Management Consultant TJ DeLuca, Risk Control Consultant Darius Chisholm, and Public Safety Risk Management Consultant, Joseph Graziano. Each consultant covered their area of expertise, ranging from OSHA inspection preparation to best employment practices. Tracy Stubblefield, Assistant Finance Director of the Town of Clayton, was satisfied with her experience attending the Trust Matters Conference. “The conference was very beneficial to me. It provided a deep dive into several areas of oversight, specifically best practices for special events, avoiding uninsured losses, tips for handling claims, and liability concerns,” Stubblefield said. Many attendees work one-on-one with our Risk Management Services team. The League is always looking at ways to foster and maintain beneficial relationships with municipal employees. The goal of organizing events such as the Trust Matters Conference is to inform members of all the available resources the League provides and how to utilize them. Harris feels like the League is a “resource that is truly on your side.” He is one of the members who can rely on League staff to answer any question, no matter how big or small. The League hopes to see the Trust Matters Conference expand and grow into a onestop-shop for all the relevant information that cities and towns are seeking for their own risk management needs. NCLM.ORG 17

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Still, a residential town on the Outer Banks is far different than a residential town elsewhere in the state, and for a local government that distinction brings with it a host of unique challenges and circumstances. The tourist towns of North Carolina have an impact that expands far beyond the traditional metrics of population or land mass. There is the economic impact, of course, capturing the commercial activity of the many visitors and vacationers. But maybe more important is the larger reputational impact of these destinations that, like an ambassador, have an outsized role in representing the state as a whole. To many thousands of people, a trip to North Carolina simply means a trip to the beach. That’s just one of the weights carried by Southern Shores and towns like it. And as a longtime visitor herself, it’s a fact Morey knows full well. Morey grew up in the greater Dallas area of Texas before moving with her family to Atlanta when she was in middle school. That relocation started her slow pilgrimage north, first moving out THROUGH COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND A CITIZEN-FIRST APPROACH, MOREY ENSURES SOUTHERN SHORES IS NOT JUST A TOP-TIER BEACH DESTINATION, BUT ALSO A TRUE HOMETOWN. If you live in Southern Shores, there’s a good chance Mayor Elizabeth Morey has knocked on your door. “I know what the problems are and who’s being impacted. Because they’ve told me,” Morey says. Between campaigning and her tenure as mayor, it’s been hundreds and hundreds of door knocks and front porch meetings. “It turns out, if you listen, a lot of people will talk to you.” What she finds in those conversations is, above all else, a shared appreciation of their community. “Even when I’d ask what they didn’t like or what they would like to see addressed, they always start with, ‘I love living in Southern Shores,’” Morey says. “And I say, ‘Good, because I love living in Southern Shores, too!’” On the Outer Banks, to like where you’re at is a prerequisite. To understand Mayor Morey, it’s best to first understand her town. By Census count, Southern Shores hosts just over 3,000 full-time residents, though the summertime crowd numbers in the tens of thousands and is located on the northern Outer Banks in Dare County, along with the towns of Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Duck, among other communities. One north-to-south road connects them all. These areas are not identical, though. “Just like each town has its own distinct borders, each town also has its own distinct personalities,” Morey says. What sets Southern Shores apart from its neighbors is a focus on residential housing. While still a vacation destination, many full-time residents of the Outer Banks find their way to Southern Shores, says Morey, who notes that only about 5% of the town’s development is dedicated to commercial activity. “It’s a unique footprint,” Morey says. “The entire oceanfront is residential.” Accompanying that hometown makeup is a strong local sense of volunteerism. Local community groups are the engine of Southern Shores, as Morey describes, from fire response to recreation to beach access to marinas. All of it, and more, is overseen by a network of civic organizations. “We pride ourselves on being a residential community, and on being a community of volunteers,” Morey says. “That’s who we are.” Mayor Elizabeth Morey Leads by Listening JACK CASSIDY NCLM Learning and Development Project Manager We pride ourselves on being a residential community, and on being a community of volunteers. That’s who we are. » Elizabeth Morey, Mayor, Southern Shores SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 20

of Georgia to attend school in South Carolina at Clemson, then moving again for work to North Carolina, where she also got her master’s degree at NC State. Finally, after several decades in the state, Morey and her husband moved to the coast. “Southern Shores was a place we loved to visit,” Morey said of the move. “We still think it’s one of the most beautiful places to live. It was a goal. We achieved it and we’re proud of it.” Finding public office was not part of that plan. At the same time, as Morey admits, it is not wholly unexpected. Her career was largely centered around public resources, if not exactly the public sector, working as a forester and then later in regulatory research at the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (now the Department of Environmental Quality). Politically, Morey also helped with numerous campaigns, canvassing, and door-knocking during this time. She remembers the pull towards public service beginning back as early as her childhood days in Atlanta. Morey’s parents were exceptionally community-oriented and, through their work purely as active citizens, were adept at achieving change locally. Morey points to one specific example: “When we moved to Atlanta, there was no recreation. You had to drive miles and miles and miles to get to a public swimming pool, which was unusual for them because they moved from Dallas and there were swimming pools everywhere. So, they took it upon themselves to meet with the developer and get land donated. Then, we drummed up community support, and before you know it, we had a community swimming pool and tennis court in our neighborhood. No small feat.” The local organizing achievement rightfully caught the attention of developers and local leaders in the community, and Morey’s father was soon asked to join the Planning Board. “I don’t know if you could do that now,” Morey says. “But we did. He pulled it off.” Morey’s father served on the Planning Board for more than 20 years. “I was just a kid growing up, so I didn’t know a lot of details. But I was exposed to it.” Upon moving to Southern Shores, she followed those same footsteps, joining the Planning Board first as an alternate, then as a regular member, and then as the chair. She served for eight years. In the arena of local leadership, there are few better introductions to the scope of local government than planning. Zoning, land use, permitting—these responsibilities are uniquely local and affect nearly all other services offered by a local government. Morey was in the middle of it, albeit in just an advisory role. “Eventually, I wanted to not just offer advice to the decision-makers,” she said. “I wanted to be one of the decision makers.” She made the leap in 2019, running as part of a four-person race for three open town council seats. She won. After one term, she made another leap and ran for Mayor. She won again, becoming the first female mayor in the history of Southern Shores. The beach-side wall in the Town Council chambers features framed headshots of all the town’s mayors. “It’s me and the boys, I like to say,” said Morey. Board Profile: Mayor Elizabeth Morey continues on page 22 Morey’s experience as a public official did not begin easily. It began with a pandemic. Taking office in December 2019, Morey had only a few relatively normal months before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. Southern Shores, working with its neighboring towns, had to respond to a complete upheaval of the normal routine of the Outer Banks, which included briefly closing the bridge to the island, concerns about adequate groceries and resources for the residents, and, of course, the disease itself. “All my, ‘I want to work on improvements, I want to work on infrastructure,’ my whole list of things—it had to wait,” Morey said. As the pandemic and related public safety measures began to unwind, old challenges began to rush back in. Challenges that beach communities know intimately. “They’re called changeover days,” Morey says. Changeover days: Saturdays and Sundays from May to October, typically. The Outer Banks is slim and long, and running that length is just two roads. In tourism season, ‘Changeover Days’ are when the current crop of visitors departs their rentals, and the new crop of visitors arrives. They come and go at the same I know what the problems are and who’s being impacted. Because they’ve told me. It turns out, if you listen, a lot of people will talk to you. » Elizabeth Morey, Mayor, Southern Shores NCLM.ORG 21

time, trying to access or leave any number of the area’s towns. Southern Shores is right in the middle of it. “It’s an intractable problem,” said Morey. “Any public meeting, any roundtable, any community chat—traffic is the first thing that’s mentioned.” There’s no room for more roads. There’s not much way to convince visitors to travel midweek as opposed to the weekends. And there’s no way to reach destinations without driving. Solutions, then, must be incremental and creative. “One way that we improved the situation this past summer is by keeping drivers on the main roads and out of the neighborhoods.” They did so by working with the traffic navigation app Waze, which drivers use to find the quickest routes to their destinations. At the town’s request, Waze stopped pointing drivers towards side streets and neighborhood roads. “It helped.” Housing has grown as an issue in Southern Shores, as it has in many other cities nationally. With new ways of working continued from page 21 Board Profile: Mayor Elizabeth Morey It’s one of the things I did after my two experiences of running for office: talking to people at their front door. It’s the opportunity for people to have somebody to listen to them. Sometimes a lot of people come, sometimes only one person comes. The people here know, if you want to be heard, I am there to listen. » Elizabeth Morey, Mayor, Southern Shores post-pandemic, more remote employees now call Southern Shores home full-time. That has contributed at least partly to a significant demand for new housing on the Outer Banks. And as perhaps the most residential-focused town on the island, Southern Shores has acutely felt that pressure. New builds, renovations, and proposed developments are all up. How to make room for residents, new arrivals and visitors is a question Mayor Morey must answer each day. Housing and changeover traffic, in addition to other local challenges like beach nourishment and hurricane resilience, follow a pattern familiar to Southern Shores. It’s a surge, then a lull. From summer to winter, it’s like two different places and two different communities, and two different sets of priorities. Keeping services, engagement and leadership steady through the tumult is a top requirement of the job. Mayor Morey accomplishes it by talking to people. “It’s one of the things I did after my two experiences of running for office: talking to people at their front door.” Taking that outreach one step further, Mayor Morey instituted Mayor’s chats, which are an opportunity for town residents to openly share their thoughts with town leaders. “It’s the opportunity for people to have somebody to listen to them,” she said. “Sometimes a lot of people come, sometimes only one person comes.” For a role that changes by the season, her approach to engagement and outreach is one that yields results. “The people here know, if you want to be heard, I am there to listen.” SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 22

ARP dollars were allocated based on residential population, so similar to many tourism-heavy towns, Southern Shores received a relatively small amount of money—just under $1 million— compared to the number of people that will ultimately use the infrastructure. So, Southern Shores is leveraging NCLM’s ARP service programs to make that money go as far as possible—and to find additional funds. The town is taking part in NCLM’s grant writing program. This assistance offering pairs municipalities with grant writing professionals, who will apply for the many federal and state funding programs currently available. This program allows towns with limited staff capacity to adequately prepare and apply for grants, and, when awarded, will continue to assist towns with managing the funds. “There are grant opportunities out there,” said Mayor Morey. “And this is going to help us take advantage of them.” Board Profile: Mayor Elizabeth Morey SOUTHERN SHORES AND THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN Like many towns across North Carolina, Southern Shores is investing its American Rescue Plan funds into transformational infrastructure upgrades. Specifically, it is addressing a bridge. Southern Shores features an extensive canal system, and the bridge in question crosses one section. It is frequently noted among the citizens as an area to improve, both in terms of safety and structural integrity. SOUTHERN SHORES AND NCLM’S ARP SERVICE LINE NCLM.ORG 23

NCLM and the American Rescue Plan: Services, Support, and a Thriving Future for North Carolina JACK CASSIDY AND ISABELLA MORMANDO THE LEAGUE’S ARP SERVICE LINE IS MORE THAN JUST AN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO HELP IN THE SHORT TERM. IT’S A NETWORK OF SUPPORT THAT WILL ASSIST OUR CITIES AND TOWNS FOR MANY YEARS TO COME. BACKGROUND When defined closely, the American Rescue Plan is simply a federal law—or more accurately, aid package—that provided financial support to many sectors around the country, including local governments. In North Carolina, the amount received by cities and towns totaled more than $1.3 billion. Looked at from a historical perspective, though, the uniqueness of the law comes into focus. It’s not a typical aid package. Never before have all municipalities received direct financial support. For those that have received support in the past, it was almost certainly less or more limited than what was received previously, but for many smaller localities, ARP stands as the first time they’ve received an appropriation from the federal government. The rarity sets the stage. This has not happened before, and this will likely not happen again. What has emerged through this one-time situation, however, is impact that will extend far beyond a single moment. City investments have been far reaching, both in size and timeline; our communities are building foundations that will last generations; cities are engaging their citizens in new and effective ways, and are engaging each other, too, through arrangements that are promoting regional investments; and supporting it all is a robust apparatus of support and partnerships, lifting up every town in this state. The North Carolina League of Municipalities has become a key component of this larger ARP network. Behind every decision, there is legal guidance and information sharing from the League, and for towns new to receiving federal funds, there is stepby-step direction on how to administer the funds. The full list of services being offered by the League is all-encompassing: legal, accounting, planning, engineering, communications, grant writing, and administration guidance. Through the League’s work with local governments for over 100 years, we know one thing for certain: when cities and towns get the support they need, they get the job done. The American Rescue Plan presented an opportunity for all 540plus municipalities in North Carolina to showcase that very fact. STAFF To support cities’ ARP efforts, the NC General Assembly provided a generous allocation of its own ARP dollars to the NC League of Municipalities. The directive was to stand up a support system that would assist towns with every facet of the American Rescue Plan. That aimed-for support system has become the NCLM ARP Service Line, and running that service line is NCLM’s ARP Team. “All of our towns know what investments are needed in their communities, but there are understandable challenges with limitations like staff capacity, budget constraints or just inexperience with federal funding,” said Chris Nida, NCLM’s Director of Technical Assistance to Cities, who oversees the League’s ARP Team. “Our service line fills in those gaps and provides constant support. We’re bringing them past those limitations.” An expansive staff of dedicated public servants, numbering 24 in total, the ARP Team includes former town managers, finance officers, government budget professionals, fellows from the UNC Lead for North Carolina program, and a host of REGIONAL MAP—ARP FIELD REPRESENTATIVES  Regina Mathis:  Charles Hines:  Richard Marvin:  Pam Hurdle:  Paarth Mehta: SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 24

other local government professionals. They are located throughout the state. Towns, regardless of geography and location, have League staff members dedicated to their region, ensuring that help can be provided both in short order and in person. “The team that we have built at the League is truly remarkable,” said Carla Obiol, Chief ARP Officer. “In every corner of the state, we have talented, public-minded members of the team ready to help. If you have a question, a concern or a need for guidance, we can help. We’ve already seen and helped with so many great successes in our communities.” Obiol stands as a strong example of the talent that makes up the team, as she arrived at the League with extensive experience in project management, teambuilding, stakeholder collaboration, and grant implementation and administration. Obiol was previously at the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, where her roles included time as interim CEO and Vice President of Community Voice and Advocacy, and before that had a 33-year career at the NC Department of Insurance, where she rose to the role of Senior Deputy Commissioner for the Consumer Assistance Group, leading three of the Department’s divisions. “In helping our local leaders, we’re helping our communities. We’re impacting citizens,” said Obiol. “That’s what I’m passionate about, and that’s what we’re really doing here.” The impact is in many ways immeasurable. It’s in hundreds of towns, affecting many thousands of citizens. A few examples showcase the work, and how the partnership between town and League yields tremendous success. RAMSEUR ARP Service Used: Grant writing The Town of Ramseur, population 1,777, entered into its ARP journey with a clear vision. The goal was to build a destination park and recreation hub to serve as an economic driver for its community, and to improve the quality of life for residents. To develop the plan, they worked with nonprofit organization Unique Places to Save, which is dedicated to restoring and conserving high-quality aquatic resources. The project is extensive. Ramseur is looking to improve the existing park, Leonard Park, through development of additional miles of trails and through other refurbishments. That project would involve connecting a lakeside parcel of land to both the park and to the trails of the nearby town, Franklinville. Additionally, there are hopes for such amenities as an amphitheater. Certain elements of the project are complex, and a great deal of review and analysis is required. For example, Ramseur has already secured a PARTF grant to research the lake’s dam, which would potentially be used to connect the trails over the water. In total, the project is quite expensive. Much of the town’s ARP funding had already been allotted for other immediate needs. Thus, Ramseur contacted NCLM looking to take advantage of its grant writing service. Through League vendor Witt O’Brien, a government solutions agency with a focus on grant writing and grant management, Ramseur will be pursuing additional funds through federal and state grant programs. It’s a solution for a situation seen commonly across North Carolina, said Obiol. Projects are worked towards and strategized about over a long period of time—but with limited staff capacity, smaller towns can often not take advantage of grants and other resources that help get those projects over the finish line. Through the ARP Service Line, help can finally be provided. “Our towns are strategic and creative and know what their community needs most. Grants exist for this very reason—to aid cities in achieving important projects. But our small towns simply lack the resources to pursue those programs,” said Obiol. “Through our Service Line, we’re now able to bridge that gap.” TOWN OF BLACK MOUNTAIN ARP Service Used: Legal guidance The Town of Black Mountain is pursuing major infrastructure investments: a flood mitigation project and utility mapping project. Total costs are more than $5 million, and in addition to its ARP funds, the town has received additional federal funds and is working with the NC Department of Environmental Quality. As with any large project, there is a maze of restrictions, requirements and legal questions. With multiple sources of funding, those questions multiply, and towns can often be left unsure of how to proceed. NCLM’s legal assistance offering is intended to cut through that confusion, and will allow towns to confidently pursue the projects their communities need. Carla Obiol, NCLM Chief ARP Officer Diane Seaford, NCLM Deputy Director for Municipal Accounting Services Chris Nida, NCLM Director of Technical Assistance to Cities Chase Norwood, NCLM MAS Accounting Supervisor continues on page 26 NCLM.ORG 25

The legal assistance program is operated through NCLM’s partner law firm Parker Poe. Black Mountain’s Angela Reece, Project and Facilities Manager for the town, notes that the lawyers at Parker Poe were more than simply a help with the process. They were a necessity. “We could not have done these projects without this assistance from Parker Poe,” said Reece. “They are a super impressive law firm. They have been so professional and timely and thorough. I can’t speak highly enough of them.” Customer service is a critical element of Parker Poe’s services as well. Given the scope of projects and the approaching deadlines, legal guidance needs to be quick and immediately helpful. This service, as Reece notes, hits that mark as well. “It’s not like you’re waiting. You’re not asking a question and waiting for someone to say, ‘Oh, I have to find the answer.’ They know the answer immediately,” Reece said. “Through the guidance and advice of Parker Poe, the town is confident that our project will be successful and will meet all the ARPA and state requirements. We sincerely appreciate NCLM’s guidance and leadership during this process as well and are grateful for the financial support to facilitate this partnership.” MUNICIPAL ACCOUNTING SERVICES One offering of the ARP Service Line stands out among the rest: the Municipal Accounting Services (MAS) program. MAS is a first-of-its-kind assistance program, designed to promote better financial accountability and reliability for smaller governments. It addresses a persistent problem facing small towns across North Carolina. Due to the hurdles of cost and access to expertise, many smaller local governments are unable to adopt up-to-date financial systems, and instead must operate inadequate software, making them susceptible to accounting and audit errors. This service is provided at no cost to participating towns through the American Rescue Plan grant period, ending in in 2026. The program’s full suite of services includes software for fund accounting, payroll, utility billing, taxes, and very important hands-on expert assistance. “Financial responsibilities are among the most important for a municipality, but also among the most challenging,” said Nida. “Our smaller towns fulfill this responsibility with very limited resources. The MAS program helps them achieve better financial management both today and for many years into the future.” The League employs accounting specialists to assist the converting towns throughout the entire process. Following the successful implementation of the Black Mountain Software, the League dedicates a point-of-contact on our staff to continue assisting towns with further questions and problems that arise. The League will pay all member costs associated with participation in the MAS Program, including the software licensing and implementation fees and the League’s accounting assistance efforts, for the first three years. The first “pilot” towns of the MAS Program were the Town of Pikeville and the Town of Jonesville. They each received demo versions of the Black Mountain Software and configured the system to their needs. The League provided various forms of support, such as contracting CPA help and sending League IT personnel to identify new technology needs in addition to expert staff helping on the ground. “MAS holds tremendous potential for the cities and towns of North Carolina, as our local governments prove time and again that when they receive needed support, they get the job done. We are exceptionally fortunate to be able to partner with the Towns of Jonesville and Pikeville as our first participants,” said NCLM Executive Director Rose Vaughn Williams. In addition to the accounting services and consultation, MAS also features an offering that tackles one of the most pressing issues facing our towns’ financial wellbeing: cybersecurity. NCLM’s in-house staff is already out across the state providing cybersecurity assessments, guidance, and consultation services. Read more about the Town of Pikeville’s success story with the MAS Program in this issue. FUTURE By the end of 2024, all American Rescue Plan dollars will be obligated, and by the end of 2026, they’ll have been spent. Three years may be a long time period in many arenas, but in the scope of public investment projects, that is a quick turnaround— hence, the flurry of activity now. Though the dollars will be spent, the impact will only just be beginning. The examples above, of Ramseur, Black Mountain, Jonesville, and Pikeville, provide some insight into what our state can expect, as do many other cases around North Carolina. In Sylva, public space downtown is being renovated not just to create an attractive area for residents, but to also improve the town’s stormwater capacity and make it more resilient in the decades ahead. In Havelock, investments are underway to address aging water and sewer infrastructure, improve the town’s economic development outlook, and support the community’s most important stakeholder, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. In Lewisville, ARP money won’t be evident in just one or even two large projects, but rather will be seen throughout a slew of new and ongoing projects, all of which strategically fit within the town’s comprehensive vision. These include roadway enhancements, sidewalk extensions, and investments into public parks and programs at the town’s centerpiece facility, Shallowford Square. In Waynesville, ARP dollars allowed the town to continue on a strategic path already in progress—and to continue on at a quicker pace. These investments touch nearly every area of town: public safety, homelessness, sanitation and recycling, parks and greenways, town staffing and, most notably, infrastructure. And in hundreds of other towns—large and small, urban and rural, mountainous and coastal—the same story is being written. It’s a tale we know well, and that is proven true time and again: when cities get support, they get the job done. Through the large network of support that has been created at the League and that now exists in communities all across our state, that story will only become more frequent in the coming years. Support is now entrenched. Learn more about our ARP efforts and stay up to date on guidance and news at continued from page 25 SOUTHERN CITY Quarter 4 2023 26