108th Annual NCACC Conference Recap



Photo courtesy of NCACC

The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) hosted its annual conference in Greenville, NC, August 20-23, 2015.

The annual conference culminated in the swearing in of President Glenn Webb, along with the seating of 2015-2016 President Elect, First Vice President, Second Vice President, and Past President.

Glenn Webb, Chairman of the Pitt County Board of Commissioners, currently serving his second term as Commissioner, was sworn in as President of the NCACC for the 2015-2016 term. “I’m proud to be a county commissioner because we have built the most responsive and stable governments in this state. We play by the rules even though many times they are stacked against us,” says Webb.

“That success is because we work hard and we work together. We have to do our job with compromise, ingenuity and backbones made of iron. We do not have the luxury of distance from our constituents, and moreover we don’t seek it.”[1] To learn more about President Webb, click here for our exclusive interview after being chosen as the NCACC President-Elect in 2014.

The 2015-2016 Executive Board was essentially a shuffling of the 2014-2015 Executive Board. Former First Vice President Fred McClure of Davidson County was seated as President-Elect, former Second Vice President Brenda Howerton of Durham County was seated as First Vice President, and outgoing President Ronnie Beale of Macon County was officially seated as Past President. Surry County Vice Chairman Larry Phillips was elected as Second Vice President, defeating Marty Cooke of Brunswick County and Charles Messer of Henderson County.

As the only new member of the Executive Board, Larry Phillips brings in experience on the NCACC Economic Development and Government Efficiency Taskforces, and lifelong ties to the mountains of western North Carolina. He was recognized by Time Magazine for his work and leadership to improve adult literacy and continuing education within Surry County.[2]

Featured Presentations

Keynote Speaker David Mead opened the conference on Friday with his presentation on Start With Why. Mead works with leaders to help create an environment where employees show up to work because they want to, not because they have to, as they are inspired to contribute to something bigger than themselves. He helps individuals look at their careers and organizations from the viewpoint of “Why,” the higher cause or purpose of their involvement, then to think, act, and communicate in a way that brings their “Why” to life.[3]

To coincide with the release of a report of NCACC’s Mental Health Engagement Task Force, Jim Blackburn was asked to address the conference on Saturday, August 22nd. Blackburn rose to fame as the prosecuting attorney for the murder trial of Dr. Jeffrey R. MacDonald in the early 1970s. Through this fame and fortune, Blackburn inwardly suffered from depression, his drive to win at any cost ending his legal career and leading him to several ethical misdeeds that landed him in state prison for 3 years. Blackburn shared his story by bringing to light the very real and complicated issues of mental illness and depression. “Where there is adversity, there are also opportunities and the chance to begin all over again. For me, it took, and takes, hope, faith, humor, friendship and a willingness not to ever give up.[4]”


Additional information and links to the workshops listed below can be found on the 2015 Annual Conference Presentations page of the NCACC Website.

  • LELA Pre-Conference Seminar: Real Colors with Dan Clark
  • Preparing North Carolina to Respond to the Avian Flu Crisis
  • Civic Health: Connections at the Heart of an Innovative Community
  • Mental Health Crisis Intervention and Prevention: State Efforts and Local Models
  • Lessons from Losses: What Commissioners Should Know
  • Urbanization & Migration in North Carolina: Practical Applications for Demographic Data
  • Mental Health Service Gaps: Where Are They and How Do We Close Them?
  • NC History Lesson, Part I: The Effect of Indian Wars and Indian Removals of 1585-1835
  • Rooted in Leadership: Connecting Agriculture to Economic Development
  • NC History Lesson, Part II: North Carolina’s ‘People of Color,’ 1835-1954
  • Models for Local Infrastructure Financing
  • Innovations and Best Practices in Regional Collaboration
  • ‘Aye’ for Answers! The 311 on Election Law Changes and Preparing for 2016
  • ‘Stepping Up’ to Reduce the Number of Mental Ill in Jails
  • The A-F of School Accountability Grades[5]

[1] “Pitt County Commission to lead Association,” NCACC News Releases, http://ncacc.org/index.aspx?nid=453
[2] https://www.facebook.com/CommissionerPhillips/info?tab=page_info
[3] Conference Program
[4] http://blackburnseminars.com/keynote-speaker
[5] Conference Program

Tax Exemption Bill Working Its Way Through the NC General Assembly

tax exemption builder

A proposed NC House bill may affect tax revenue in a big way. House Bill 168, Exempt Builders’ Inventory, could exempt from taxation any improvements made to existing residential or commercial property, for the purpose of resell.

According to the text of the bill:

The exclusion authorized by this subsection ends at the earlier of the following:

  • Five years from the time the improved property was first subject to being listed for taxation by the builder.
  • Issuance of a building permit.
  • Sale of the property.1

If this new bill passes, the tax on the existing property will remain at the same amount for what the property is valued on January 1 of the year construction begins.

The exemption would apply to buildings under construction, or completed, as long as the property is for sale. However, the exemption should not exceed three years from the date of the property being listed for sale and must be applied for annually. If these changes were to go into effect, assessors must specify “what portion of the value is an increase attributable to subdivision or other improvement by the builder.”2

The bill does not limit the exemption to licensed general contractors; this exemption is allowed for any individual with improved property for sale. For example, John Doe buys a large house with the idea of turning it into apartments. He installs new appliances and rewires the entire house with updated, state of the art light switches and sockets. Mr. Doe would be exempt from paying taxes on any increase in valuation of his property as long as he keeps the building for sale as he makes the improvements.

Examples of improvements that would increase the value of the property and would apply for the builders’ exemptions are as follows:

  • subdividing into separate units
  • utility installation
  • curb and gutter

Be sure to stay updated on the progress of this bill as it makes its way through the final review stages in the NC Senate. If the bill passes, it could have an impact the bottom line for your taxing jurisdiction.

1. GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA, SESSION 2015, HOUSE BILL 168http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/PDF/H168v4.pdf

2. Ibid.

The Future of Reappraisal: What a Four-Year Cycle Could Look Like



County representatives from across the state have joined together to form the NC Reappraisal Study Committee – a group tasked with investigating & analyzing the potential benefits of moving from an 8-year to a 4-year real property reappraisal cycle.

Stan Duncan & Brent Weisner, both members of the Reappraisal Study Committee, co-wrote an article called Making the Case for a Four-Year Reappraisal Cycle. The article explains that a four-year plan “is particularly attractive for staffing and budgeting concerns of NC counties” when considering the general time schedule being proposed1.

An overview of what this four-year reappraisal timeline could look like in NC is listed below (Duncan and Weisner):

What a Four-Year Cycle Could Look Like

  • Year 1: The Year of the Reappraisal (Effective as of January 1st of the calendar year):
    • Complete mailing notices of reappraisal values.
    • Conduct all informal and Board of Equalization & Review meetings.
    • Review appeals at the local level.
    • Maintain inventory of legal and physical changes to property.
    • Identify areas for redress in preparing for the next reappraisal.
  • Year 2 of the Reappraisal Cycle:
    • Complete all appeals pending before the NC Property Tax Commission, either by Consent Agreement or adjudication by hearing before the Commission, and possibly appellate courts.
    • Continue to maintain inventory of legal and physical changes, and continue redress areas of concern for the next reappraisal.
  • Year 3 of the Reappraisal Cycle:
    • Increase attention to market analysis, especially those market forces having changed since the effective date of the most recent reappraisal.
    • Continue to maintain inventory of legal and physical changes.
    • Develop preliminary Schedules of Values, Standards, and Rules for the upcoming reappraisal.
  • Year 4 of the Reappraisal Cycle:
    • Continue to monitor the local real estate market by location and property type in order to accurately prepare and apply the Schedules of Values, Standards, and Rules to be adopted by the board of county commissioners for the upcoming reappraisal.
    • Continue to maintain inventory of all legal and physical changes, verify areas of concern identified during the first two years of the cycle have been adequately studied and remedied if necessary, and review and reappraise all neighborhoods at market value with attention to equity among and between all neighborhoods, value stratifications, and property types.
  • Year 1: The Year of the Next Reappraisal
    • Start the process over again, while applying lessons learned and knowledge gained from the previous reappraisal.

Overall, “a four-year reappraisal cycle would eliminate the need for conducting sales assessment ratio studies in the fourth and seventh years under the current eight-year reappraisal cycles as provided for under G.S. 105-284(b), the Uniform Assessment Standards. And, under the current law, public service companies could only challenge the median ratio established in the year of the reappraisal.”1

1. Duncan, Stan, and Brent Weisner, “Making the Case for a Four-Year Reappraisal Cycle,” Print 2014.

NCACC Continues Legislative Fight for Lottery Funds

lotteryAs county commissioners across NC prepare and submit their legislative goals for the upcoming year, it’s time to reflect on what moves have been made or resolved in regards to fiscal year 2013-2014 and speculate on which goals are likely to remain hot-button issues moving forward.

One topic sure to carry over from the prior year is the pursuit to reinstate the 40% allotment from lottery proceeds for school construction.

When the North Carolina Education lottery was first established (almost a decade ago now), 40% of its revenue was to be divided among all NC counties for the general purpose of “generating funds to provide enhanced educational opportunities and support school construction and renovation1”.

A key objective for these budgeted construction funds was to help counties maintain the pace of increased student enrollment by building and expanding existing facilities.

beale lottery

What happened to the 40% set aside? 

In 2007, the “Great Recession” hit, causing an economic standstill that resulted in the largest collapse in state revenues recorded. By 2009, the lottery funds were shifted in order to support other areas of the NC budget, and the school construction distribution decreased to 20.8% of the revenue collected. This percentage continued to decline, dropping down to 17.1% in 2014.3

H.B.1107, titled “Restore Lottery $ for School Construction” was filed in May of 2014 and proposes a plan to steadily increase the percent each fiscal year until it again equals to 40% by 2016-2017. If approved, H.B. 1107 will increase the distribution to 27% for the 2014-2015 fiscal year as our county commissioners continue to advocate for their constituents.5

Why the Percentages Matter: 

The original 40% contributed about $192 million annually to the Public School Construction Fund, and became a reliable funding source to the tune of $9.72 billion for school capital needs across the state.3

The budget cut for construction came at a time of increasing class size and student-to-teacher ratios – situations which often result in undesirable learning environments.

The lack of revenue has also placed a burden on local taxpayers due to the debt accumulated by projects that were started – based on the original budget assumptions that did not live up to expectations.


Restoring lottery funds is a goal that has gained traction in the past fiscal year and will remain an adamant concern of the NCACC as they continue promoting the best interest of their local communities.

Click here to see where your county stands as of FY 2013 in lottery fund distributions.


1 North Carolina General Assembly. “Legislation/Bills”. 2005 House Bill 1023. 31 March 2005. http://www.legislature.state.nc.us/sessions/2005/lottery/fulllotterybill.pdf

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “States Continue to Feel Recession’s Impact”. 27 June 2012. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=711

Sean Holmes. “NCSBA Education Lottery Issue Brief.” 2013. 7 January 2013.http://www.ncsba.org/clientuploads/DocumentsWord/Advocacy/NCSBA Education Lottery Issue Brief.doc

North Carolina Education Lottery. “Education Programs Receiving Lottery Dollars”. URL.

North Carolina General Assembly. “Legislation/ Bills”. 2014 House Bill 1107. 15 May 2014. http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/BillLookUp/LoadBillDocument.aspx?SessionCode=2013&DocNum=7771&SeqNum=0

107th Annual NCACC Conference Recap


Last month, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) hosted their 107th annual conference in Buncombe County.

As is custom, the newly elected NCACC officers were announced, and both outgoing members of the Board of Directors & award-winners were recognized for their achievements, during the President’s Reception & Banquet held on Saturday, August 16th.

In case you missed it, listed below are the new Board members, information on key sessions, and a recap of all conference workshops that were offered this year.

Meet your 2014-2015 NCACC Leaders:

President: Ronnie Beale was sworn in as the 98th NCACC President after serving the last 8 years as commissioner for Macon County. Beale’s platform for the upcoming year will hold various initiatives. One goal, at the top of the priority list, will be centered on mental health care reform in NC. Beale plans to create a state-wide task force that will research and report on a long-term plan to help those in need of mental health services.

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” said Beale of his mission to create change. “Our goal is to come up with solutions that allow patients to get treatment quicker and extend services when needed.” See NCACC President sets Legislative Agenda for 2014-2015 to learn more about Beale’s objectives for the upcoming year.

President Elect: NCACC elected Glenn Webb of Pitt County as their President Elect. Webb, currently serving his first term as Commissioner, has continued to rise through the ranks of the Association’s Executive Board over the last four years. Take a look at this article to learn what Webb had to say about his new position and the NCACC’s target focus for this fiscal year, as well as his views on their greatest accomplishments over the last few years.

First Vice President: Fred McClure, Davidson County commissioner, is a Veteran of the United States Air Force, U.S. Navy, and National Guard. He was elected as NCACC’s 1st Vice President after serving his now fifth term as commissioner for Davidson County.

Second Vice President: Brenda Howerton, Vice-Chairman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners since 2012, has served as a Durham County commissioner the last 6 years. Howerton was elected as NCACC 2nd Vice President after serving as Vice-Chair for the NCACC Intergovernmental Relations committee. She is the first Durham County commissioner to be elected for statewide senior leadership.

At-Large-Directors: The following commissioners were appointed by President Beale to each serve 1 year terms as at- large-directors, to help achieve balance on the Board: Kenneth Edge of Cumberland County, Tony Cozart of Granville County, Gloria Whisenhunt of Forsyth County, and Edwin Booth of Beaufort County.

Featured Presentations:

The conference also included a number of different speakers, presentations, and workshops to participate in and learn from.

No Barriers – Only Solutions: This year’s keynote speaker was Neal Peterson, award winning author of No Barriers, Only Solutions and adventurer whose documentary was featured on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). During the Conference’s opening session, Peterson shared how he realizes success through innovation, balancing risks against return, and being adaptable. Watch Peterson’s speech here.

Fighting Teen Driving Fatalities: Saturday morning’s Conference-Wide Youth Involvement Breakfast featured a presentation by Johnston County (JoCo) Teen Drivers and their methods for managing teen driving safely. In 2007, Johnston County was ranked at #1 in the state for teen fatalities with 11 teens losing their lives that year. That year, the JoCo Teen Drivers program was created to target risk factors such as driving at night, speeding, distracted driving, seatbelt usage, and alcohol.  As a solution to these issues, the program worked to involve teens, improve county roadways, provide better training, and initiate campaigns to promote their cause. In 2013, the program was rated as a success after tracking the decline of the county’s teen fatality to 6th in the state for teen fatalities.

Building and Repairing Trust through Communication: Dr. Vincent Covello, founder and Director of the Center for Risk Communication, explained the art and science behind communicating effectively. As an expert in crisis, conflict, change, and risk communications, Covello spoke to attendees on methods of building and amending trust through communication.

10 Fundamental Workshops:

Additional information and links to the workshops listed below can be found on the 2014 Annual Conference Presentations page of the NCACC Website.

  1. Lela Pre-Conference Seminar: Collaborating for Successful Economic Development
  2. 2-in 1: A How- To Guide to Governing in a Consolidated Human Services Model
  3.  Innovations in County Government:6 Communities Receive the RWJF Culture of Health Prize
  4. Recap What You Sow: Agriculture’s Reversal of Fortune in Western NC
  5.  Don’t Miss the (Freight) Train!Taking Advantage of Rail
  6. The ABCs of Contracting with P3s
  7. Strategically Thinking about Economic Development Plans and Policies
  8. Network of Care: Using the Internet to Connect People with Health and Social Services
  9. Governmental Immunity and County Officials: What If I am Sued?
  10. Running the Numbers: Demystifying Regional Economic and Social Data Analysis


NCACC Website. “2014 Annual Conference Presentations”. http://www.ncacc.org/index.aspx?nid=444