2 defend village’s league membership

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 5, 2014


A few days after action was taken by the Clemmons Village Council to remove travel reimbursement for the N.C. League of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, and then dropping its membership in the NLC, councilwoman Mary Cameron was still steamed.
“I feel that it is an embarrassment to the Village and the state of North Carolina to require me to resign my seat on the board of directors of the NLC as the only representative from the state of North Carolina,” said Cameron, who is serving in her 21st year on the Clemmons Village Council. “North Carolina’s voice will not be heard. I have long believed that it is better to try to influence legislation before it is imposed by the state or federal government. Much of what the NLC and NCLM do is lobby for more local authority, fewer unfunded mandates and legislation that will enable communities to grow and prosper.”
Cameron said that Clemmons has been a member of the National League of Cities since 1999 or 2000 and the N.C. League of Municipalities even longer.
“Every mayor and council member since that time has supported our membership in both organizations,” Cameron said. “Now our mayor and three Council members, who have never been to a NLC meeting and three of the four have never been to a NCLM meeting, have decided that these two organizations provide no measurable value to the Village of Clemmons. How are they measuring the return on investment of the other organizations that are funded in our budget?
Mayor Nick Nelson, who introduced the proposal to remove the travel reimbursement of $20,800 for the NCLM and NLC (including $300 for Town Hall Day) that passed by a 3-2 margin (with Cameron and councilman Mike Rogers opposed), said it came down to fiscal responsibility.
“One of the top reasons I ran was to ensure our elected officials demonstrate fiscal responsibility and to be a voice for citizens,” Nelson said. “The result from Council members’ travels has not provided a return to this community that matches $20,800-plus being spent on trips.
“As elected officials we are entrusted with taxpayer dollars and must ensure that any dollar we spend is efficient and justified. Ultimately, that’s why I made the decision to propose this budget amendment. Fortunately, three other Council members supported that philosophy.”
Rogers, who has represented Clemmons on the NCLM and the NLC along with Cameron, said those associations provide tremendous value.
“Life and government is about relationships,” Rogers said. “When you meet with other elected and municipal representatives, a great deal of knowledge and insight is passed along from roundtable-type discussions. You do not get this insight from a book with statistics, the Internet or email.
“Personal interaction is absolutely necessary to facilitate a free flow of ideas and information that pertain to an ever changing political and economic landscape. Serving on the Council is not a matter of just showing up two times a month (for meetings).”