Speaking Out: Big Achievements by Working Together

Scott Neisler, NCLM President

Wow how time flies! It seems like yesterday that for the first time in two years we had our first in-person CityVision annual conference in Wilmington. It was such an honor taking the oath of office as president of your North Carolina League of Municipalities.

Looking back, I see a year of tremendous progress, primarily because we haven’t dealt with some sort of crisis. Focusing instead on our mission of assisting and representing cities and towns across North Carolina.

I can sincerely say that the accomplishments of the League and its member cities and towns has never been more closely linked. That is because of how closely we have all worked together with the unprecedent infusion of federal dollars into our communities through direct federal American Rescue Plan Act funding and the additional investments made by our state legislators into our communities. Truly a partnership with the state that I hope and pray will continue.

As I look across the state, and speak with my fellow NCLM board members and fellow North Carolina mayors, I know that Kings Mountain is not alone in making these types of transformational investments that will enhance the lives of residents and improve our local economies. From the mountains to the coast, similar investments are being made in waste, sewer, and stormwater projects, in parks and other amenities, and in other ways that are generating more economic activity.

In my city of Kings Mountain, that funding is going toward infrastructure that will allow us to expand sewer service, stabilize our water supply reservoir and even leverage additional federal grants for wastewater infrastructure.

And I am proud that, over this past year, the League of Municipalities has been with cities and towns that need assistance in how to navigate the complexities of the ARPA grants so that they can get the most from these investments. That work is seen in staff members who meet with local officials directly to answer questions and assist in meeting program requirements, in joint regional meetings with partner organizations that have helped
to explain the funding and requirements, and in the resources that the League has created and housed on a microsite website, www.arp.nclm.org.

We can also be proud of how the League is publicizing these exciting investments, both through its own publications and through media outreach emphasizing the improvements to our cities and thus our state. It’s a clear strength of our organization, especially as it relates to our initiatives around ARPA and the promotion of lasting, effective investments. The League’s accomplishments over the past year hardly stop there.

We have settled property issues regarding our property and are moving forward in establishing a permanent home with a replacement to our League headquarters building. What we will pursue is a facility that will serve the needs of our members for generations to come!

We also need to continue to recognize how successful the 2021–22 legislative biennium was and how this is a direct result of our efforts to emphasize our common ground with state legislators. At our 2022 Town & State Dinner, I don’t know that I have ever seen our legislative leaders so relaxed and enjoying themselves, and that is because they see our common purpose and our willingness to work with them. I see that relationship improving even more through our support of a Legislative Municipal Caucus, so that we can even avoid the darts coming from nowhere affecting land-use and other local authority.

As my term as president comes to an end, our League of Municipalities is in great hands. It has been a privilege to get to work with and get to know my fellow members of the Board of Directors, League staff, and local officials from across the state committed to improving their communities. I have learned so much from them, as I use that valuable knowledge to serve my citizens in Kings Mountain. So, my time as president has been a fruitful experience. The league lives out its motto, Working as One, Advancing All. I know that that good work will continue into the future!