Local governments should focus on using existing revenues more efficiently, monitoring the effectiveness of school funding, and simplifying rules for land use and zoning. Those are three key recommendations in the John Locke Foundation’s new City and County Issue Guide 2014.
The new guide arrives before local governments begin planning for their 2014-15 budget years.
“This guide covers topics ranging from taxes to transit, from smart growth to stadiums, from education to economic development,” said Dr. Roy Cordato, JLF vice president for research and resident scholar. “The common thread in each of our recommendations is freedom. By increasing individual freedom, local governments can foster the prosperity of all North Carolinians and keep open avenues to innovative solutions from enterprising citizens.”
The 38-page guide covers 15 of the most important topics local governments must address. It tackles services local governments provide, funding for those services, and government policies that restrict land use and property rights. JLF research staff members analyze key challenges linked to each topic.
Cordato authors a section in the new Issue Guide on economic development policy. It urges local officials to avoid interfering with market forces.
“Local governments should focus on making their communities conducive to economic growth and business investment by keeping property taxes, sales taxes, and business regulations and fees low,” he said. “The focus of county budgets should be on essential government services, making sure that these services meet the needs of business.
“This focus would include providing reliable sources of water and transportation services that accommodate the desired lifestyles of the work force and the needs of industry,” Cordato said. “Beyond this, city and county government should allow business investment to take its course.”