by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
Watauga County Commissioners almost got me.
In May, they’ll put a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot. A similar measure failed eight years ago, but the county’s decided to try again.
Only this time, it’s more complicated. The ballot will read,
If passed, the quarter-cent sales tax would reduce the four-cent property tax increase the commissioners already have in place to a two-cent increase.
See, last year, the County Commissioners raised property taxes by four cents. That’s a lot. In fairness, they still have one of the lowest property taxes in the state, and I commend them for that. It’s one of many factors that makes Watauga County an attractive place to live and do business. But still, four cents all in one go is a lot.
So this year, they offer voters the opportunity to reduce the property tax by raising the sales tax. And I almost got drawn into the debate about which tax is better.
Except, either way, the taxpayers of Watauga County will be paying more than they were in 2016-17. The debate about property vs. sales is only about how the additional burden is distributed. Surely it would be better still to avoid that additional burden altogether.