Press Releases and Newsletters2021-07-29T15:50:07+00:00

Press Releases and Newsletters

Interview with Ned Curran, chairman of the North Carolina Board of Transportation, on House Bill 817 Strategic Transportation Investments

After Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 817, also known as the Strategic Transportation Investments, into law about three weeks ago, the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition sat down with Ned Curran, chairman of the North Carolina Board of Transportation, to discuss what the formulas for House Bill 817 should look like. This is what we learned:

NCMMC: What role will the Board play in the implementation of House Bill 817?

NC: Right now the board is very engaged in receiving and reacting to the preliminary recommendations coming forward from the work groups that have been assigned to that task. After evaluating whether any changes are warranted the Board will advance the final recommendations to the legislature for their reaction and eventual approval. We will then have the rules with which to operate under in making funding decisions going forward.

NCMMC: The bill saw overwhelming support in the General Assembly. Was there similar support from the Board?

NC: Absolutely, the bill clearly had overwhelming support within the board.

NCMMC: What are you looking for while approving the formulas? What are the important qualities the formulas should be measuring?

NC: We’re looking for balance. We’re looking to insure that all areas of the state are looked after in a fair and equitable manner. At the same time we’re looking for new ways to be strategic in how we spend money with a goal of helping with job creation and economic development. We still have very high unemployment rates in the state. We still have areas in great distress, and we’ve got to find better ways to use transportation infrastructure to help those areas.

NCMMC: When the governor has talked about economic development and connecting people in rural areas to jobs in urban areas, how do you see future transportation playing a role in these linkages?

NC: The governor is absolutely correct that what we’ve got to focus on are job centers. We have to provide greater options for mobility to those jobs centers and that could take any form of transportation that’s appropriate for linking a particular area to a job center. So that could be in the form of rail, bus or highway. All forms are open to evaluation in order to get to greater mobility and linkage to jobs.

NCMMC: What role do you think the board will play in transportation more generally?

NC: Generally, the board will continue one of its primary roles to insure that we are strategically and prudently investing our transportation dollars. We face a challenging environment where we forecast a revenue model that does not keep up with population growth. So we’ve got to look at ways to enhance that revenue formula and in doing so evaluate alternative approaches, while at the same time, continuing to be thoughtful about how we spend the precious dollars we have.

NCMMC: How do you see the board interacting with MPOs, RPOs and locally elected officials?

NC: I think that interaction is going to be greater than it ever has been. With the tiered levels of potential funding for select projects it will be critical for the MPO, RPOs and locally elected officials to work very closely with DOT staff and the board member assigned to their division to ensure project benefits are fully understood. With funding available for projects of regional and statewide significance regional cooperation is encouraged and will further facilitate the understanding and appreciation for the benefits a project can provide to a region. I think the new law provides a remarkable opportunity for enhancing regionalism across the state.

Interview with Rep. Torbett On New Transportation Strategy

After House Bill 817, or the Strategic Transportation Investments bill, passed both the House and Senate, North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition legislative intern Kathryn Trogdon sat down with Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston and a chair of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee (JLTOC). The formulas that underpin the bill will be developed by the Strategic Prioritization Workgroup, which the Metro Mayors participate in, and approved by the NC Board of Transportation and the JLTOC. Here is what Kathryn learned:

NCMMC: As chair of the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee, what criteria are you looking for in the formulas for House Bill 817?

JT: A mention of economic growth, commerce growth and job growth, and does transportation need to play a role in that or contribute somehow. That concept was extremely unique. I had also thought about that before, but it had never been implemented. You have to look at the economic vitality of the entire state and use that as one of the factors when you’re determining transportation needs. Is it the only factor? Of course not, but it’s one of many, such as safety, population, getting cars from point A to point B faster with less sitting still on the Interstates and major arteries. All those are very good points, but the formula never had that commerce growth, job growth and economic growth piece, and I thought that addition was a big plus. I liked that piece remaining in the state

[competition]. I’m a little bit dismayed they didn’t keep it in the regional [competition]. They, the Senate, opted to pull it out of regional and incorporate something like travel tourism and military bases. Although that’s good and that’s key, it doesn’t fit across all regional sectors of the state. From the regional aspect, I wish it would have maintained that economic component, and I will be discussing that during the interim in the joint transportation oversight committee. I support Military bases 110 percent like all of my colleagues do, but the military establishments in North Carolina are predominately in the east, so, is it the fairest for the piedmont and mountains as well? We will discuss it.

NCMMC: How do you see transportation playing into the economic development?

JT: It’s my opinion that over the years transportation revenues…have been on the decline. I feel like the department [of transportation] has done the best they can with what they had, however; I think, through… previous directions they were getting from past Administrations and General Assemblies, DOT wasn’t able to set the right criteria or priorities as each new session brought new priorities. Two years ago in the last session, we started looking at roads and bridges and rebuilding some of our dilapidated and antiquated bridges. I think that was key. I think that was great. I think we’re doing a super job on those projects. We continue that work into this cycle and this session. But what I’ve also seen during the past years is DOT being forced to look for short cut measures that, in my opinion, have degraded the overall road quality of the state as well as the aesthetic and safety properties of roads throughout our state by over applying a tar and gravel surfacing technique that is not asphalt surfacing. We are using way too much tar and gravel. It’s what we did when the model T’s came to fruition. We went from compressed clay to gravel roads to putting tar on the gravel then to tar and gravel. Then moved up to asphalt and concrete and now it seems that we have fallen too far back to Tar and Gravel. I saw the state going back to more tar and gravel and strongly feel our folks across all North Carolina deserve better. What I think you’ll find most key in our House budget this year is dollars put into resurfacing. Asphalt resurfacing [will be] over 8,500 miles which equates to 11 percent of total road capacity in the state of North Carolina. People that do our research tell me that’s the most we’ve ever put into resurfacing roads. What does our budget do? It brings back the focus to good roads that we were once known for, puts a bunch of folks to work on those roads, and resets the priorities to what we think our folks back home…expect and deserve in the quality of their roads and the expectations from their transportation department.

NCMMC: The House Transportation budget creates a pot for the economic development, what do you intend that to be used for?

JT: For example, if an entity decided “I need to come to North Carolina or expand in North Carolina to do business. We want to come or expand. We’re going to hire a number of individuals but to enable us to get there we have to have rail access” or “we have to have access to the Interstate and the plot of land we currently are looking at doesn’t provide that”. There needs to be a mechanism that provides, if it’s determined to positively benefit the taxpayers, that entity a path to receive the necessary transportation modifications to assist that entity in locating or expanding in North Carolina. We do a portion of it now. It’s not just widely noticed. This puts a focus, an emphasis, if you will on those needs. For the first time, this administration and this General Assembly have worked hard to dismantle those departmental silos that had over many, many, years have been built up around our state departments. Today we are making great inroads in getting those departments to work cohesively. For example, commerce and transportation -Secretary Decker, Secretary Tata often appear joined at the hip, because we’ve torn down those two department’s silos that had been built up and hardened over the years where each department worked independently from the other.

NCMMC: With the new formulas, what projects do you think will fare well and which do you think won’t fare so well?

JT: I’ve had this thought in my mind to get heavy handed politics out of the road building process. I think it’s just as wrong for a legislative individual to put a road into a process as it is for a legislative individual to take a road out of a process. I think that we as legislators should not have that part in the process. I think it should be a broad determination based on criteria that will be set. How they will fare in criteria that are not currently in place yet? Flip a coin. I intend to stand back and let the numbers and the data present what they present. Now, I will thoroughly examine the outcomes of the data. I will thoroughly examine the findings that are attributed to that data, because I also know that as humans we are known to err, I want to make sure that what we are seeking to get and what we get is the most independent and truly factual information as humanly possible. That is what I think North Carolinians insist on from their Department of Transportation. They pay for it and they deserve the best we can afford.

NCMMC: Basically, the criteria shouldn’t be created to get certain roads completed, but should be created independently of the roads?

JT: That’s correct. The criteria should be an umbrella across the state of North Carolina that when the different local back home transportation groups in North Carolina determine that a road needs to be built it goes through the data, it goes through the criteria, and if it comes out saying yes that’s a good road then it should be built. If it’s not a good road it should not be built. It shouldn’t be Rep. John or Rep. Joe or Rep. Kathy or Rep. Mary making those determinations.

Thanks Rep. Torbett for talking with us and sharing your perspective!

Interview with Sen. Bill Rabon on Senate tax reform

Metro Mayors sat with Sen.Bill Rabon (Brunswick-R) this week to discuss the Senate’s tax reform bill (H998). We appreciate the Senator’s time and candor on the bill. Here is what he shared:

Sen. Rabon: It’s my hope that we can reach a compromise with the House. I think tax reform is one of the big issues and one of the most important issues that is facing the state today.

We are moving forward with deliberations, trying to reach that compromise. I’m sure the Senate will come up with a plan that’s fair to everyone and that accomplishes true tax reform and not nibbling around the edges and that it insures every taxpayer in the state has more money in their pocket, pays less tax overall. That’s our primary goal and that businesses also receive their fair share of tax reform and tax cuts, that we proceed with doing away with corporate welfare.

Hopefully, this will be something that the public sees as beneficial or is something that is beneficial to the public and that it is viewed that way.

The second part is that we must be willing to control our spending and stand by our belief that less government not more government is the way we want to proceed and we must be willing to make tough decisions and control the growth of government and allow it to grow only in concert with the growth in population. Those revenues that we save by controlling growth will remain in the pockets of the people of the state and won’t be spent to Raleigh to be spent.

Metro Mayors Q&A with Rep. Tim Moffitt

NCMMC: What is your philosophy or experience that drives your interest in local government issues? Is your interest just in Asheville or in local governments all over?

TM: My interest is solely focused on good government, whether it’s at the local level or the state level or at the federal level. Good government really comes in one flavor for me, and that’s what’s in the fairest outcomes for all of our taxpayers.

NCMMC: So even though you’ve had some Asheville-focused bills, overall you want…

TM: I was born and raised in Asheville, so you know, my experience with local government is Asheville, and when I see local governments not representing what’s in the best interest of all the folks, that’s where I like to involve myself.

NCMMC: You’ve been really busy so far with local government bills, especially around Asheville, are there any other issues you want to tackle next session?

TM: Well if you look at — I guess if you look at my history, only a very small part of it is local. It just so happens that the local things — the folks who don’t like them are rather loud and noisy bunch, but they’re not significant in regards to numbers of people. It’s just a small group of people, and sadly, I would say that a majority of it is predominately political, because there is really no standard of reason to their objections, because the facts outweigh their arguments, and it just really seems to be, you know, petty politics than it does actually what’s in the best interest of the folks.

NCMMC: How do you want the major cities to support you and reach out to you and engage with you on issues that you have?

TM: Well, I think just call me first. You know there’s a lot of comments out there about me, but there’s been very few inquiries that have come from our mayors. Just because I disagree with my mayor on certain issues that seem to be substantive to our area doesn’t mean that I’m a disagreeable person. I’m a very fair person. I’m very open minded, very interested in learning more about every aspect of a particular issues, because I don’t think I have all the answers, but I feel very clear, very convinced in some of the things that I’ve done that I’m on the right side of the policy and the people opposing me are not, and I feel very comfortable with those outcomes.

NCMMC: And what do you think is the cause of your disagreements with the other mayors?

TM: Again, I just think it’s a — I think a lot of our mayors have lost sight of what their responsibilities are. I think a lot of our mayors quite frankly would be better off as presidents of homeowners associations than they would be mayors of our cities and towns. They have a very set a very narrow set of responsibilities in regards to what they should be doing at the local level, and when they step outside those boundaries than those of us in the General Assembly have got — we have the higher responsibility of interceding in those issues when they overstep their boundaries. Up until that point, they have a responsibility to run their cities.

North Carolina’s jobless rate inches up to 9.5 percent (News&Observer)

The state’s unemployment rate inched up in January as North Carolina’s labor force grew at a much faster rate than it created jobs.

North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 9.5 percent, the state Division of Employment Security reported Monday. The rate is now just one-tenth of a percentage point below where it stood 12 months ago.

It remains well above the national rate of 7.7 percent. North Carolina’s labor force grew by 0.2 percent in January while the number of people employed grew by just 0.1 percent, according to a survey of households. The growth in the state’s labor force reflects the fact that North Carolina continues to add new residents despite having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, said Mark Vitner, a Wells Fargo economist in Charlotte.

 “We continue to import job seekers from other parts of the country, which makes it even tougher for us to lower the unemployment rate,” he said.

Vitner said the state’s job growth numbers were solid last month. North Carolina added 15,100 jobs in January after seasonal adjustments, according to a payroll survey of employers included in the state data, and has now added 85,700 over the past year.

One possible concern, Vitner said, is that almost half the job growth in January and nearly a third of the new jobs over the past year were in leisure and hospitality services. He said the worry is that those numbers reflect people working multiple part-time jobs as employers attempt to keep costs low by not taking on new full-time employees.

The numbers could also reflect more job seekers settling for part-time work outside their traditional fields as their unemployment benefits expire.

“That’s been a lingering concern all throughout this recovery, just how strong is the job growth that’s being reported,” Vitner said.

Still, the job gains reported last month did show signs of a broader-based recovery.

In addition to leisure and hospitality, which added 6,500 jobs, the other sectors that recorded large gains were manufacturing (5,400), trade, transportation and utilities (4,000) and construction (1,600). Professional and business services lost 2,600 jobs and education and health services lost 2,300.

“I viewed this as a very positive report,” said Michael Walden, an economist with N.C. State University. “I think it’s indicative of the economy in our state accelerating.” Walden said that North Carolina’s job growth numbers compare very favorably to the nation’s over the past three years. He said from February 2010, when the state and national job markets bottomed out, through January, North Carolina’s total number of payroll jobs grew by 5. 4 percent – above the 4.2 percent increase recorded nationwide over that same period.

Urban improvements

Vitner said he expects the state’s unemployment rate to decline by three- or four-tenths of a percentage point this year.

“Most of that improvement will be in Raleigh and Charlotte, where economic activity has truly ramped up,” he said.

While Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville and Wilmington have also seen increased activity, Vitner said the state’s two largest metro areas are outpacing much of the country.

“Raleigh and Charlotte are two of the fastest-growing job markets in the country right now,” he said. “… That’s one of the reasons we’re pulling in all these job seekers from other parts of the country.”

The Triangle’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in December. The January rate will be released Friday.

(News& Observer)

Published: March 18, 2013

By David Bracken

Mayors meet state government leaders (Lake Norman Citizen)

Opening lines of communication and laying the groundwork for cooperation were the primary objectives of Tuesday’s meetings between representatives of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition and state government officials.

Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain, vice chairperson of the Coalition, said sessions with Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, Senate majority leader Phil Berger and other legislative and state agency movers and shakers provided information about ongoing issues, while formal and informal gatherings with Gov. Pat McCrory gave mayors insight into state government priorities and concerns for the months ahead.

“Transportation was a primary topic,” Swain said Wednesday from Raleigh as she prepared for individual meetings with more state-level officials. “One of the things that was made clear is that everything is on the table in terms of securing transportation financing.”

Swain added that McCrory expressed an interest in obtaining continuing input from the Mayors Coalition — which consists of mayors from the state’s largest 28 municipalities — on local, regional and state matters. She added that while there are a lot of unknowns on the horizon in terms of state financial matters, she viewed Tuesday’s meetings as a solid first step toward a cooperative, solution-seeking team effort.

(Lake Norman Citizen)

Written by  Staff

March 8, 2013

Swain: McCrory meeting was a start (Charlotte Observer)

Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain said a meeting between Gov. Pat McCrory and members of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition last week was short on specifics but was a good start on grappling with some of the Lake Norman area’s problems.

Swain and other members of the Mayors Coalition met with McCrory on March 5 in Raleigh to open discussions about transportation, economic development and other issues pertinent to the state’s 28 largest cities.

Swain, the vice chairman for the organization, said the group also met with House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate leader Phil Berger and senate transportation committee co-chairs Kathy Harrington and Ronald Rabin.

Swain said there were umbrella discussions about transportation in the state’s metro cities, rather than specific projects.

“Transportation is a huge issue. There are a lot of open-ended questions on transportation financing,” Swain said. “We’ve got problems funding transportation, issues building it, fixing it … the state understands it’s a problem.”

During a private sit down with the coalition’s executive committee, McCrory told the mayors he’s in the “information-gathering mode,” Swain said.

“He was very honest with us,” she said, adding McCrory is wrestling with inherited budget issues as well as how the sequester will affect the state.

“It was very eye-opening, there are not a lot of answers right now,” Swain said of the trip to Raleigh.

Another priority for the coalition is economic development, and Swain said from her discussions, job creation appears to be a focus for McCrory as well. The coalition refers to a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that found 81 percent of the state’s economic output is produced in metropolitan areas. Accordingly, Swain said McCrory encouraged the metro mayors to embrace rural neighbors, as issues trickle down from larger municipalities into smaller communities.

“I think for the first time, the metro mayors have a governor who’s one of us, he gets it,” said Swain, noting McCrory was a founding member of the coalition when he was mayor of Charlotte.

“He understands the issues that occur in the municipalities and gets it at the citizen level …our meeting was the first of many and the lines of communication are always going to be open,” she said.

“For the citizens in the metro areas and beyond, I think that’s a pretty big deal.”

(Charlotte Observer)

By Hilary Trenda

Friday, Mar. 08, 2013

Modified Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013

Concord Mayor Padgett meets with Governor McCrory (WBTV)

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett and members of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition met with Governor Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Thom Tillis today in Raleigh. The Coalition, which is comprised of the mayors of the state’s twenty-eight largest cities and represents more than three million citizens, focused on issues important to Concord and all the state’s metropolitan areas.

The visit to Raleigh was highlighted by a special reception with Governor McCrory at the Governor’s Mansion. As mayor of Charlotte, McCrory helped found the Coalition.

“North Carolina’s cities are the driving forces behind our state’s economy, attracting industry and supporting innovation that benefits the entire state,” said Padgett. “As mayors, we are focused on policies to strengthen our cities by improving transportation, supporting economic development, and improving public safety. We are proud to partner with Governor McCrory, who — as a former mayor, understands our concerns — as well as the legislative leadership to advance issues that will help our cities and our people now and in the future.”

According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 81 percent of North Carolina’s economic output is produced in metropolitan areas. In addition, 67 percent of the jobs in North Carolina are located in the Piedmont Crescent, the urban corridor that stretches from Charlotte to Raleigh.

The Coalition’s legislative agenda is focused on promoting innovative strategies to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, providing cities the needed revenues and resources to ensure they continue to serve as thriving centers for citizens, and supporting local law enforcement and the judicial system to reduce crime.

 (WBTV)

Submitted by David Whisenant

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013, 7:54am

Concord mayor meets with governor, legislative leadership (Independent Tribune)

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett and members of the North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition met with Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger, and House Speaker Thom Tillis Tuesday in Raleigh.

The coalition, which is composed of the mayors of the state’s 28 largest cities and represents more than 3 million citizens, focused on issues important to Concord and all the state’s metropolitan areas.

The visit to Raleigh was highlighted by a special reception with Gov. McCrory at the Governor’s Mansion. As mayor of Charlotte, McCrory helped found the coalition.

“North Carolina’s cities are the driving forces behind our state’s economy, attracting industry and supporting innovation that benefits the entire state,” Padgett said. “As mayors, we are focused on policies to strengthen our cities by improving transportation, supporting economic development, and improving public safety. We are proud to partner with Governor McCrory, who — as a former mayor, understands our concerns — as well as the legislative leadership to advance issues that will help our cities and our people now and in the future.”

According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 81 percent of North Carolina’s economic output is produced in metropolitan areas. In addition, 67 percent of the jobs in North Carolina are located in the Piedmont Crescent, the urban corridor that stretches from Charlotte to Raleigh.

The coalition’s legislative agenda is focused on promoting innovative strategies to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, providing cities the needed revenues and resources to ensure they continue to serve as thriving centers for citizens, and supporting local law enforcement and the judicial system to reduce crime.

(Independent Tribune)

Staff reports

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 5:05 pm

Woodson meets with McCrory at Mayors Coalition(Salisbury Post)

RALEIGH — Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson met with Gov. Pat McCrory and other city mayors Tuesday for the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition.

McCrory hosted the coalition, comprised of leaders from the state’s 28 largest cities, at the governor’s mansion.

In a press release, Woodson said the meeting focused on issues important to the city and to others across the state.

“North Carolina’s cities are the driving forces behind our state’s economy, attracting industry and supporting innovation that benefits the entire state,” Woodson said in the release. “As mayors, we are focused on policies to strengthen our cities by improving transportation, supporting economic development and improving public safety.

“We are proud to partner with Governor McCrory, who — as a former mayor, understands our concerns — as well as the legislative leadership to advance issues that will help our cities and our people now and in the future,” Woodson said.

The coalition’s legislative agenda is focused on promoting innovative strategies to build and maintain transportation infrastructure, according to the release, providing cities the needed revenues and resources to ensure they continue to serve as thriving centers for citizens, and supporting local law enforcement and the judicial system to reduce crime.

McCrory founded the coalition with former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz, who served as vice chairman from 2009 to 2011, when she had to resign from the coalition after losing the mayor’s seat to Woodson by a narrow margin in the 2011 municipal election.

McCrory has since tapped Kluttz to serve as head of the state Department of Cultural Resources.

(Salisbury Post)

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:23 a.m.

Bitnami