Through an all-inclusive process involving hundreds of municipal officials since the 2015 legislative session ended, the Municipal Association of SC identified major challenges facing cities and towns around the state. Municipal officials weighed in during ten Regional Advocacy Meetings, affiliate meetings, and meetings held throughout the year with elected officials and city staff.
Meeting the identified challenges requires a comprehensive approach, including passing new laws and providing training related to these issues, while also collaborating with outside partners to help identify solutions. In some cases, all three approaches can be part of the solution to meet these challenges.
The 2016 advocacy initiatives are based on providing solutions to meet these challenges. Staff will discuss the initiatives in detail during the Hometown Legislative Action Day on February 3.
For businesses, time is money. Implementing streamlined business licensing practices saves businesses time and supports local economic growth.
Legislative initiative – Coordinate efforts to create consistent business licensing practices across cities and towns.
Training – Increase training for business license officials, permitting officials and other city staff to encourage streamlining of business license and permitting processes.
Collaboration – Develop a payment portal for businesses to have the option to pay business license taxes online.
Cities and towns need dependable and consistent revenue sources to support the efficient and effective delivery of municipal services and quality infrastructure that residents and businesses demand for a positive quality of life and economic prosperity.
Legislative initiative – Support consistent and fair funding of the Local Government Fund as the stable revenue source it was originally intended to be for cities and towns.
Legislative initiative – Support a change in the state budget to adequately fund indigent defense in municipal courts within the unified court system.
Training – Provide training for local officials to access existing infrastructure funding through state sources such as the Rural Infrastructure Authority and the State Revolving Loan Fund to supplement local funding options.
Embrace the sharing economy
New business models are changing the way consumers and businesses connect and interact on a daily basis.
Legislative initiative – Support legislation that embraces the sharing economy while maintaining cities’ ability to efficiently and effectively provide for public service and public safety that residents and businesses expect and demand.
Training – Provide municipal officials with ongoing training on current trends and best practices regarding the evolving sharing economy.
Repairing and maintaining existing roads and infrastructure is about more than fixing potholes. It’s about encouraging and supporting statewide economic development with infrastructure that can accommodate new industry and support existing industry.
Legislative initiative – Support legislation that provides stable, immediate and long-range funding for the repair and maintenance of existing roads and that ensures these funds are used efficiently and effectively.
Legislative initiative - Support legislation that ensures municipalities have a voice in how local "C" Funds are distributed and used within a county.
Training – Ensure municipal officials understand the local, state and federal road funding opportunities that are available to their cities and towns and train them how to secure and use those funds.
Dilapidated structures pose a public safety threat in municipalities of all sizes. Cities and towns need additional tools to clear blight to ensure the safety of residents and visitors and to spur economic development opportunities for business owners.
Legislative initiative – Encourage and support the passage of the Dilapidated Buildings Act that gives cities and towns a tool to partner with the private sector to clear blighted structures.
Legislative initiative - Support legislation that will clarify the process for collecting liens in code enforcement cases.
Training – Continue training municipal officials regarding options available to abate nuisance properties that pose a threat to public safety.