The Locker Room

Tax hikes on the ballot

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:46 AM

Robeson County commissioners have already raised taxes $1.2 million for fiscal year 2011. Now county commissioners want to add another $1.1 million tax hike in a vote next Tuesday, August 3. But county commissioners are selling it to taxpayers as a property tax cut.

How does the sales pitch work?

Commissioners say (promise is too strong a word) they'll give back the earlier property tax hike, $0.02 per $100 valuation, if voters approve a quarter-cent sales tax hike that raises the equivalent of $0.04 in the property tax rate. John Hood has written before on how this disingenuous strategy has worked in other counties. We have a fuller analysis of the Robeson vote available, too.

Now Guilford County commissioners are warning they may seek a sales tax hike without a partially offsetting property tax cut. Commissioners there tried to get the tax hike in conjunction with bonds voters approved in 2008. So there's no sleight-of-hand there. But this quote from Commissioner Carolyn Coleman is stunning: "[T]he sentiment Ive heard from people is they would prefer a sales tax increase over property tax. Many people who have property but are on a fixed income would be more affected by having to pay a big lump sum. So she thinks people can afford to pay $8.00 on every $100 they spend but doesn't think the county can find a way to offer installment plans for property taxes?

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