Local News

Commissioners to consider plan for tax revenue distribution with towns

cumberland county logo The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday, March 20 is scheduled to consider an agreement between the county and all its municipalities on how they will share sales tax revenue for the next two years.

Former County Manager Amy Cannon late last year warned the commissioners that the deadline to submit a request to the N.C. General Assembly to change the way tax revenue is distributed would be in April. County administrators presented the board an option of moving to the ad valorem method, which means distribution based on the proportion of the total tax levy each entity accounts for. That method would provide more revenue for the county.

The county currently distributes sales tax revenue on a per capita basis, but it has an interlocal agreement with the municipalities to share the growth in tax revenue on a 40%-60% basis, with the county receiving 40% of the growth revenue.

The issue is on the board’s consent agenda for its meeting scheduled at 6:45 p.m. Monday in Room 118 of the Cumberland County Courthouse. The item was not on the agenda at a meeting earlier this month when topics are considered for future board meetings. Items on the consent agenda of regular board meetings typically bypass discussion or debate. However, one commissioner may ask to have an item taken off the consent agenda for discussion.

That request is voted on by the full board.

The distribution method among the county and its municipalities was discussed Feb. 3 by members of the Cumberland County Mayors Coalition, according to Brian Haney, assistant county manager and spokesman for Cumberland County.

“During this meeting, members of the Mayors Coalition expressed their concerns regarding the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners potentially voting to change the sales tax distribution method from per capita to ad valorem,” Haney wrote in an email to explain how the decision came about.

CityView requested a copy of the minutes of the coalition’s meeting from the town of Eastover, whose staff was responsible for the minutes of that meeting.

The Eastover town clerk has not responded to that request.

According to Cumberland County’s website, the coalition consists of the mayors of Eastover, Falcon, Fayetteville, Godwin, Hope Mills, Linden, Spring Lake, Stedman and Wade. The chair of the county commissioners also is a coalition member. The coalition meets quarterly at varying locations.

The current sales tax agreement was agreed upon and signed by all coalition members in 2003 and expires on June 30. If no agreement is reached and the county changes to the ad valorem distribution method, it could mean significant loss of sales tax revenue for the municipalities.

The county had offered an agreement that delays the change to ad valorem taxation until June 2025, but Cumberland County would receive 100% of any growth revenue. The agreement had to be approved by all municipalities before March 15 or the county would have proceeded with the move to the ad valorem formula.

On Feb. 3, Chairwoman Toni Stewart, a member of the coalition, and Vice Chairman Glenn Adams, along with county administrators, attended the Mayors Coalition meeting. Stewart was presented with an initial agreement proposing the renewal of the existing agreement for five years under the same terms.

“This renewal had been approved by all municipal boards but was done without consultation or discussion with the Board of Commissioners or county staff,” according to Haney.

Stewart and Adams met with the chair and vice chair of the Mayors Coalition and asked that they provide an alternative proposal to the five-year extension, according to Haney.

On Feb. 17, the county board received a letter from the Mayors Coalition stating that the “request to continue the current agreement for five years is negotiable” and that the municipalities “will support continuing current dollar amounts with the county receiving all the growth for a shorter amount of time to allow the municipalities to prepare for the loss of revenue,” according to Haney.

Stewart on Feb. 24 sent a letter to Mayors Coalition Chair Jackie Warner with a proposed amendment to the distribution agreement that addresses concerns raised by the Mayors Coalition while also taking into account the county’s needs. Haney said.

The amendment provides a transition period for implementing the ad valorem distribution of revenue, extending the agreement through June 30, 2025, with 100% of growth revenue during this period going to the county. The chairwoman requested that all municipalities adopt the agreement by March 15 since the Board of Commissioners must vote on any changes to the sales tax distribution method in April, according to Haney.

Since the agreement was adopted by all municipalities, the county will delay changing to the ad valorem distribution method until July 1, 2025. This would coincide with the implementation of the 2025 property reappraisal. Had the new agreement not been adopted, the commissioners would have voted on the ad valorem distribution method in 2023.

“At the direction of the Board of Commissioners, the county attorney drafted a new sales tax agreement with a two-year term and a provision that the county would receive 100% of sales tax growth,” according to a memo to the board from then-interim County Manager Renee Paschal.

“The agreement also puts the municipalities on notice that the Board of Commissioners intends to adopt the ad valorem distribution method effective July 1, 2025. The agreement was sent to all municipalities in Cumberland County with a due date of March 15, 2023. All municipalities have approved the attached agreement,” Paschal states in her memorandum to the board.

She recommended that the board vote to approve the interlocal sales tax agreement effective July 1 this year through June 30, 2025.

Other consent agenda items

Also slated for approval are the fiscal 2024 health insurance plan changes and a request for $350,000 for restoration of the historic Orange Street School.


The board will hear a presentation on the fiscal 2022 compliance audit by a representative of Cherry Bekaert LLP, the county’s external auditor.
April Adams, a partner with Cherry Bekaert, is scheduled to present results of the audit, which was completed on March 9. The separate financial audit results were presented at the board’s Jan. 17 meeting, when the commissioners approved an audit contract extension through March 31 to allow time to complete the compliance audit.

There were two findings reported related to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program:

The county could not provide supporting documentation of the quality reviews for 54 of the 60 case files selected.

In one out of 60 cases audited, the supporting documentation of the rent payment in arrears did not properly support the amount of payment made.

In other business, the board will consider a proposed schedule for fiscal year 2024 budget work sessions and public hearing.

Women business owners are optimistic about the future

18 Even as they ride out inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainty, women owners and executives of small and mid-size majority-women-owned businesses have an optimistic outlook about the near-term future of their businesses, according to a recent survey.

The PNC Bank survey found that women business owner expectations for their own companies remain strong, with 41% feeling highly optimistic — up from 29% in the fall of 2020 but down from 67% in the fall of 2021 — while the share of those feeling pessimistic has held constant at just 1%.

The survey also indicated that more than eight in 10 women business owners are very confident about their future success and nearly half say it comes from their own hard work and drive. Similarly, 79% are very satisfied with their role as a business owner or leader compared to 67% of men business owners.

“We are seeing a new pattern of self-empowerment among women business owners that is very encouraging,” said Beth Marcello, director of PNC Women’s Business Development. “Their own hard work to survive the pandemic is the source of their confidence and optimism today.”

The survey suggests that women have a take charge, can-do attitude. When it was difficult to find employees, 49% of women business owners versus one-third of men business owners say that they or their managers stepped in to cover open staff hours themselves.

“For the first time, we have evidence of increased financial confidence among women business owners. They are two times more likely than men to say they’re considering a new loan or line of credit to support business growth,” said Marcello. “They are monitoring their cash position and have a cash reserve, but they’re investing excess cash rather than stockpiling it; they are continuing to leverage the increased efficiency of the digital financial tools they migrated to during the pandemic; and they are confidently increasing pricing as the economy allows for it.”

While women business owners have concerns about inflation, profitability and the supply chain, they believe they’re prepared for these challenges.
Women business owners also intend to maintain or expand on policies they initiated during the pandemic, including allowing flexible work arrangements (48%), increasing compensation (38%) and implementing employee health or safety enhancements (33%).

Women business owners are more likely than men business owners to adopt Corporate Social Responsibility policies or practices, including gender pay equity (34% vs. 9%) and diversity and inclusion (29% vs. 14%).

These disparities could be an indication of why fewer women business owners (30%) than men business owners (43%) are finding it harder to hire new staff compared to six months ago.
Identifying and addressing challenges faced by women financial decision makers is a component of PNC’s Project 257: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality, an initiative to help close the 257-year economic gender gap. More information about these efforts as well as helpful resources for women financial decision makers can be found at pnc.com/women.

While the pandemic created new economic challenges, many with lasting effects, women business owners largely overcame these obstacles, taking away lessons that have inspired their optimism and confidence today.

Methodist University Black Student Union builds strong community among students

11 Methodist University’s Black Student Union has come a long way — in both reach and impact — during its eight years of existence. So much so that the organization has expanded to both undergraduate and graduate students.

The University is home to more than a hundred student organizations including the Black Student Union, which was originally formed in 2015 with the purpose of creating a community among Black MU students.
Sophomore TiyeNandi Alexander, a Nursing major, recently took the reigns as student president of the Black Student Union, a position that has helped her grow as a person in the past year or so.

“Normally, I would keep to myself a lot. But in my freshman year, the former president and vice president of the Black Student Union came up to me and took me under their wing,” Alexander said. “I started coming to events and meetings. Eventually, they trusted me to carry on the legacy of the Black Student Union.”

MU’s Black Student Union regularly hosts dozens of events and discussions throughout the year including information tables, poetry slams, movie nights, powder puff football games, spirit week and much more. Currently, more than 50 students are members of the Black Student Union.

Although young in age, the Black Student Union has helped provide an important voice during discussions of how to make Methodist University a more inclusive place — helping the University rank No. 1 as the most diverse university in North Carolina.

“It’s important to have representation and inclusivity because we are a minority off and on campus,” she said. “We want to create a brotherhood and sisterhood while offering a safe space for Black students to feel like they belong. We want to help them feel like we have people who are like them in their ideas and their culture.”

While the undergraduate chapter has been in place since 2015, the graduate chapter of the Black Student Union is newly born. Tajze Johnson, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student who is expected to graduate in 2024, started the graduate chapter after he noticed the need for better Black representation. 11a

“The occupational therapy field is predominantly made up of Caucasian women. When I came to MU’s Occupational Therapy program, it was eye-opening to see that there were other Black people in the program with me,” said Johnson, who is the inaugural president of the chapter.

“However, I noticed there wasn’t clear space to have a conversation about it, so we created this graduate chapter. We simply wanted to create a place where African-American graduate students could go so they don’t ever feel like they don’t belong.”

While most of the original participants are from the Occupational Therapy program, Johnson wants to make it clear that the graduate chapter of the Black Student Union is open to all students from graduate programs — including MU’s Physician Assistant, Business Administration, Physical Therapy and other programs.

Although new, the graduate chapter of the Black Student Union is active. In the last month, the organization helped to host a presentation by Dr. Khalilah Johnson — an assistant professor of Occupational Science at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The following week, the graduate chapter held a meet-and-greet.

While Johnson hopes to organize more events and workshops throughout the year, he said the bigger purpose is to leave a steady organization behind for future Black graduate students.

“I want to help build a foundation for the next cohorts to come,” he said.

“Hopefully, when they come in, there will already be a strong organization in place so they immediately have a community they feel like they can bond with.”
To stay up-to-date on all MU events, visit https://www.methodist.edu/events/.

About Methodist University
Methodist University is an independent, four-year institution of higher education with approximately 2,000 students from across the U.S. and more than 50 countries.
MU offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs (including doctoral-level options) on campus and online. MU has been named the “No. 1, Most Diverse University in North Carolina,” one of 10 “Must-Watch Universities in North America,” features more than 100 student clubs and organizations, plus 20 NCAA intercollegiate sports (with nearly 40 team national championships).
To learn more about Methodist University, visit www.methodist.edu.

City Council sets public hearing on extending length of election terms

8b The Fayetteville City Council voted during a work session March 6 to hold a public hearing on whether to extend the length of council members’ terms from two years to four years.

Council members and the mayor are currently elected every two years. If the proposed change is approved, council members would serve staggered, four-year terms, meaning some seats would be on the ballot one year and others in the next election.

The mayor would still be elected every two years. The changes would apply only to future elections. The terms of current council members would stay at two years.

Two council members, Mario Benavente and Kathy Jensen, voted against proceeding with the measure. The date of the public hearing has not been determined.

Council member Derrick Thompson presented the measure to the City Council. He said four-year terms would help with long-term planning and decrease the risk of abrupt changes in the council makeup.

“We run the risk of having a new board every election cycle, including the mayor,” Thompson said. “This will cause havoc for a city this size, if that was to happen.”

The council’s action only puts the issue before the public for feedback at a hearing. The City Council would then decide whether to extend the length of the terms.
In 2018, the issue was put before voters in a referendum, and nearly 65% of voters rejected the measure.

When Benavente asked Monday why the council couldn’t put the proposed change on the ballot in another referendum, Thompson said, “Because we don’t have to.”
Thompson said that the public hearing would give city residents a chance to have their say on the proposal.

“Everybody will have an input on how we move forward,” Thompson said.

He said he could fill City Hall with people from his district who would support the plan, but he added that he wants to hear from people who live in other districts. Jensen, who opposed the measure, said constituents in her district are against term extensions.
“I know what my district has told me over and over again, so I'm not going to be able to support this,” Jensen said.

County seeking feedback on Ann Street Landfill

8cCumberland County residents can view a virtual public meeting on the future of the Ann Street Landfill at www.cumberlandcountync.gov/annstreetplan.

The county is seeking feedback on the plan to extend the life of the landfill and asking residents to voice any concerns they have about it, according to a release from the county government.
The virtual meeting will be available until March 17.

Comments may be provided on the website, by emailing annstreetlandfill@cumberlandcountync.gov, by calling 910-505-9334, or through standard mail at 698 Ann St., according to the news release.

The Ann Street Landfill, which has operated at its current site since 1980, will reach capacity in just seven years, the release said. Before then, the county must plan for waste disposal beyond 2030.
County leaders have concluded that building a transfer station at the landfill is the most feasible short-term solution, the news release said.

The county is seeking feedback from neighboring residents and businesses and the greater Cumberland County community, the release said. The feedback will help identify strategies to reduce the impact on the neighborhood.

The project website also includes a Frequently Asked Questions section, Alternative Disposal Analysis Report, Environmental Justice Report, information on how a landfill operates and the County’s ongoing efforts to Reimagine Ann Street Landfill and Solid Waste in Cumberland County.


Latest Articles

  • ‘Ballad of Green Beret’ composer’s guitar on display at ASOM
  • A2Z run to benefit March of Dimes, local NICU
  • Arts Council receives Youth Growth Stock Trust grant to support Artists in Schools initiative
  • Board approves Crown Event Center concept design
  • Cassandra knows best ... maybe
  • Coyote sightings increase as pup season begins
Up & Coming Weekly Calendar

Advertise Your Event: