Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Counties seek revenue. But not here.

Eleven N.C. counties will ask voters in November to let them impose a new, quarter-cent sales tax. The N.C. legislature in 2007 gave counties a blanket to add the tax if county voters OK'd it. In a 12th county, Watauga County (home of Boone) voters yesterday rejected the idea, apparently with some help from the John Locke Foundation.

While quarter-cent sales tax votes have had mixed results for the last three years, interestingly, seven of nine counties that have already voted this year passed it. (In addition to Watauga, Davie County voters in February, nixed it.) Here's a rundown from the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

The measures had a generally mixed record in 2007 and early in 2008. None of the ones on the ballot in November 2008 passed – remember, the financial world had just collapsed.

Harnett County (home to Lillington - corrected 1:51 p.m.) is even going for a third try this November. Well, hey, the third time (last May) was the charm for Onslow County (home to Jacksonville. N.C.).

The 2007 legislation also offered counties the option to impose a land transfer tax – paid when a home is sold – if voters OK it. Of course, the state's Realtors erupted like Mount St. Helens when that one passed the legislature. A number of counties put it on the ballot right away, without taking time to build community support. Not surprisingly, given the hot opposition from Realtors and developers, none of the land transfer tax measures to date has passed.

Mecklenburg hasn't opted to try either one, though it has eviscerated its public library system and its county park and recreation budget, and county cuts played a role (state budget cuts did, ) in massive public school teacher and staff layoffs this year and last. Whether the local pols disinclination to put either option on the ballot is a result of sticking a finger into the political winds, or sane tax policy, or is a response to pressure from Realtors, to whom our politicians pay close heed – I'll let you take your pick of those options.

In general, compared to property taxes, sales taxes go down easier with voters, although economists tend to point out that compared to property taxes they're more regressive and less stable. But usually you pay sales taxes in small amounts, so people don't notice them as much as those big propery tax bills.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think more taxes are the right answer at this time.

I'd first like to see a complete audit of Mecklenburg County's finances by a fully-independent outside auditor.

I suspect we'd see waste and fraud and mismanagement aplenty.

After all that is set right, then I might consider supporting additional taxes.

Ghoul said...

Why ask for any tax increase without first cutting the fat in the budget. Whitewater, NASCAR HOF, the boondoggle at DSS, all need to be cut back first, but you will never see that mentioned here in the Observer.

EuroCat said...

It's amazing...the right wing claims that the "majority" of Americans (in misleading polls) oppose the construction of a Muslim-oriented Community Center in lower Manhattan, so it shouldn't be built...

yet these same rightwingers say that we shouldn't put a 1/4-cent sales tax on the ballot because...are you ready for this...a majority might vote for it.

Pretty selective view of the "majority" concept.

Anonymous said...

Well, since we pay the highest sales tax in NC and can't make ends meet. What would the extra 1/4 percent do?
Just allow more spending without thinking. Wait until CMS gets slammed next year and the county cuts more funds since Pete elected to bank the money. The hysteria is already being created for a property tax increase after the election. More layoffs to come due to the fiscal giants that increased the sales tax revenue based to their projections. Even Harry wanted fiscal constraint. Tom L

barkomomma said...

Keep squeezing that turnip! There ought to be a drop of blood in there somewhere!

Anonymous said...

I would have to support 11:48. Government can not seem to find a way to cut spending instead then to look at the hard working class as a money tree. Comparing Mecklenburg County cuts this last year is no way to win points for yourself. We all know the corruption in DSS and Harry's protection of his friends and family. The level of corruption that has been exposed proves to me there is 3 to 4 times that in reality. Additionally, the massive spending in CMS with little to show for it also tells me most of those folks feel "entitled" and we taxpayers should just shut up and open our wallets even more.

The next tax for Mecklenburg County taxpayers will show up on your receipt and you will notice it will be 10%. That is ridiculous with our level of state income tax. Additionally, 2 taxes currently enforced were to be temporary taxes and already gone away.

I have my MBA. Let me run an audit of CMS and this county and you will see drastic budget reductions and thousands moving away to find their merry ride somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Sanford is in Lee County, not Harnett.

Mary Newsom said...

Argh! Anonymous 1:33 is, of course, right. I even used to cover the Harnett County commissioners back in another millennium.

Harnett County is home to Lillington (as corrected above) as well as Bunnlevel, Chalybeate Springs, Dunn, Erwin, Coats and Angier, among other places. But not Sanford.

Anonymous said...

The recession is the cure for the disease that affects the economy, but the politicians don’t have the stomach for it. They’re going to keep stimulating the economy until they kill it with an overdose. The hyper-inflation that results is going to be far worse than the cure.

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Why not eliminate taxes? Come on folks do we really get any return on our hard earned money that the corrupt political parties steal from us?

Tim said...

Government is fascinating.

I am a sales manager for the entire southeast US. My product sells to private contractors AND municipalities/water/sewer.

When I go to get appointments with contractors, they are in a hurry and hustling trying to make their day very efficient because time is money. And they are stressed.

But when I go see munis, they are so open with their time. The guys will sit around for 4-5 hours and here me speak. No rush, no hurry, on cruise control, and collect the paycheck.

Nice try Mary, go in the field and do some real life investigation of how much waste is in government.

Jumper said...

Flat tax" or value-added tax "supporters" don't much care for actual flat sales taxes. Just imagine a national sales tax on derivatives contracts. Even 1/4 percent. Wall Street and the multinational anarcho-plutocrats would just go berserk and start toppling governments. Including, or especially, ours.

Larry said...

When I was younger, I once read a story where the last few remaining humans used the last few drops of fuel to take off in search of another planet as we did so many crazy things to destroy our lives and our planet with out even thinking they were outrageous.

But looking back now and seeing our Elected officials actions, and seeing some of the Liberals comments along with the media following and pushing it right along, I think that writer may have been a little too optimistic.

Those people will most likely argue over that fuel being used to light an eternal flame which will show the world that we are no longer fighting each other, especially since none of us would no longer exist.

That would apparently really make everyone happy. So please be sure to support these taxes in a time when people are not just broke but broken. And if you don't understand the difference then you never will.

J said...

First, to EuroCat - not sure what you mean. "Right-wingers" for the most part don't want the taxes on the ballot because people oppose them, not because they think people will vote for them.

As for the tax increasse proposals go, this is a lesson those of a more liberal ideology don't seem to get: Increasing tax rates DECREASES tax revenue. Cutting tax rates INCREASES tax revenue. When you increase the punishment for earning or spending more (higher tax rate), that behavior will decrease, thus decreasing revenue. When you increase the reward for earning/spending more (lower tax rates), the behavior will increase, thus increasing revenue. So decreasing tax rates will result in more revenue.

And of course, decreasing spending helps as well. Do you really think DSS is the only government agency that has rampant waste and corruption? If you do, I have some fabulous beachfront property in Kansas I'd like to sell you.

So let's lower income and sales tax rates, and clean up the waste and corruption in the government, and our budget woes will be far less than what we're experiencing.

Anonymous said...

EuroCat,

Nothing is stopping YOU from writing a check to GovCo.

When you write that check, scan it and post a link to it here.

Jumper said...

J, you are talking about the "Laffer curve"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
and it's got a real shape which shows for example in European economies that higher rates from what we have in the States will tend to maximize govmt income. I think that invalidates your argument although it should rightly take the wind out of the sails of extreme moonbats who want to seize all property from people who earn more than THEM (LOL).

Waste in government is an issue, yes, but unless us citizens present concrete cases where it occurs, general griping is just background noise.

WashuOtaku said...

Wow EuroCat, that was completely out from left field there. You must not be familiar with Mecklenburg County, it is in North Carolina and home to the city of Charlotte. Welcome!!!

One of the first things we should let you know is that the County Government is dominated by Democrats; not a bunch of right-wingers nor people that even care what's happening in lower Manhattan.

Also, we drink sweet ice tea and eat boiled peanuts as a snack; I'll be more than happy to pour you a glass and try the peanuts if you stop over (we friendly like that).

As for Mary's question... dunno, maybe they are simply afraid.

Anonymous said...

"Waste in government is an issue, yes, but unless us citizens present concrete cases where it occurs, general griping is just background noise."

Yes there is alot of waste in government, but politicians don't listen to the people i.e. health care legislation, stimulus package. The only way to change government is to change the way we view government. History proves the bigger government gets the more is bullies, steals, lies, and destroys society. My suggestion is to immediately reduce governemnt by 50%. At least that's a start.

Anonymous said...

I'd be astounded if most of the people arguing about taxes (either for more or for less) even bothered to read the County or City budgets. I simply do not believe that the people who complain most loudly even know what their tax dollars are planned to be spent on, or they would not make such uninformed and blind assertions about how local tax money ought to be spent. I get it that Federal and State budgets run into the thousands of pages, but local budgets are typically less thick than the last Harry Potter novel. Get informed, then make your wild accusations of either fraud or penury! At least you’ll have some facts to work with. Even with a MBA, you can still read the local budgets.

Anonymous said...

The politicians for so long have wasted out money. Look at the hugh pensions some get. There should be no pension for government workers. Just like most of the private sector. Their pay should be cut 10%. Taxes should be cut 20%. All politicians should be kicked out of office unless they do this.