The Chapel Hill Town Council adopted its legislative agenda for the 2018 session of the North Carolina General Assembly at a meeting Wednesday.
Mayor Pam Hemminger will send a letter to members of the legislature to alert them of the resolution.
Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos presented two local bills and two statewide initiatives that were originally discussed at a public forum on Feb. 28 and at a meeting with legislators on April 3.
One proposed local bill would allow the town to enact an ordinance to stop advertising public hearings in newspapers. The town would instead continue to alert residents of public hearings through signs and mail notifications while also posting information on their website.
“Part of the motivation for this is the fact that we really don’t have a local newspaper that has any wide circulation, and the technical requirements of the statute are that it has to be a newspaper of paid circulation, general circulation in the community,” Karpinos said.
Advertisements for public hearings currently run in the Durham Herald Sun.
Karpinos said the ordinance, if enacted, would only get rid of the requirement for legal advertisements, meaning the town could still choose to advertise public hearing information in newspapers.
Guilford County recently voted to publish public notices only on the county’s website.
Council members expressed concern that discontinuing public hearing notices could cause financial harm to the Herald Sun.
“What the town would pay for that quarter-page ad is about $25,000 a year for putting it in every week,” Town Council member Nancy Oates said. “That is three quarters of a reporter’s salary, so to take that away from the newspapers is not something that I could support.”
The second local bill in the resolution would allow the town wider options for investment of funds to pre-fund post-employment benefit contributions.
By passing the resolution, the council also gave its support to a statewide initiative making it easier for citizens to voluntarily surrender guns to law enforcement. However, it has to be with the intent of the gun being destroyed.
Another statewide initiative they would give general support for is the League of Municipalities and North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition legislative programs.
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