Thursday, January 17, 2019

Legislative pushes for 2019

The Municipal Association has three Advocacy Initiatives for 2019, developed with the input of hundreds of municipal officials during the 2018 Regional Advocacy Meetings:

  • Update the Local Government Fund formula to guarantee a reliable funding level that is fair to cities and towns of all sizes. The LGF brought stable revenue to cities and towns four a couple of decades leading up to the Great Recession, but has provided reduced revenue and unpredictable changes since then. In this session, a bipartisan group of House members are sponsoring H3137 to tackle this issue. This bill would require the LGF to increase each fiscal year by the same percentage that the state general fund is projected to increase, not to exceed five percent compared to the amount in the current fiscal year.
  • Expand flexibility for using accommodations and hospitality taxes to allow expenditures for infrastructure in tourist-related areas. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate addressing this: H3132 and S217. These types of tax revenue can be used for tourism-related expenditures, including advertising, building and maintaining cultural facilities and providing necessary city services for tourists and tourist facilities. Both of these bills add tourism-related site preparation, as well as flooding control and drainage for tourism-related areas, to the list of acceptable expenditures.
  • Reduce the wait time for local law enforcement hires to be admitted to the Criminal Justice Academy. Keeping police rosters filled is a key need for law enforcement agencies in South Carolina, and one which requires as much efficiency in graduating officers from the Academy as possible. By supporting the Criminal Justice Academy’s funding request, and supporting the effort to move the Academy off of unreliable fines and fee assessments to a more reliable, recurring source, the Association is also supporting an increase in Academy capacity that will result in much shorter wait times.
Cities and towns can’t push for legislative action unless they’ve cultivated relationships with their delegation. A recent Uptown article highlighted the ways local officials can get these relationships up and running, and what they should know about advocating for their needs effectively.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

MEO Institute course offerings are still expanding

"As soon as we began the Advanced MEO Institute, people began asking, ‘What’s next?’”

This is how Eric Budds, deputy executive director of the Municipal Association, describes the desire participants have expressed for additional education after they complete the Advanced Municipal Officials Institute of Government. The Association is now offering the Advanced Continuing Education track to help meet this demand.

In the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government, there’s the initial MEO Institute, and graduates of that program can move on to the Advanced MEO Institute. Finally, and this is the new part — graduates of the Advanced MEO Institute can participate in Advanced Continuing Education, an optional, self-directed track.

The Association has offered the MEO Institute for more than three decades. This first level covers many key parts of city and town governance that mayors and councilmembers need to know, like municipal finance, governance and economic development, and the SC Freedom of Information Act. There are seven courses in total, and all of them are required to complete the program.

The Advanced MEO Institute, established in 2014, allows officials to dig deeper into these topics and offers more learning flexibility. It features six courses in all, and participants can complete any four of their choosing in order to graduate.

There’s even more flexibility with Advanced Continuing Education. Advanced MEO graduates can pursue individual courses as they desire to reinforce ideas or get a refresher on critical knowledge.

The February 6, 2019 Advanced Continuing Education courses happening in Columbia have a registration deadline of January 22. The courses offered in this round are “FOIA: Making Transparency a Priority,” and “SC Ethics Act: Avoiding Common Pitfalls.” Specifics on additional courses in October will be announced later.

Find out more about all levels of the MEO Institute in its 2019 brochure.