In the wake of Orange County raising the property tax rate, Chapel Hill businessman Mark Zimmerman writes a piece suggesting that the progressives who run the county look to Chatham County for a roadmap of success — based NOT on more government, but on responsible and effective government.
Four years ago an electorate seeking change swept a new majority into power in Chatham County. Change they got, with more on the way.
Jobs in the county are up 270 percent, more than making up for losses during the recession. That employment growth is a result of an almost 600 percent increase in private capital investment. In 2010, business only invested $500,000. Since then, nearly $250,000,000 has infused into the local economy. Chatham County now has a lower unemployment rate than Orange County.
More business not only means more jobs but more tax revenue. Property tax revenue is up on the new investment. Sales tax revenue has doubled, before the new Walmart has been counted. The sales tax increase alone means avoiding a 1.5 cent property tax-rate increase.
Instead, there’s been no increase in property tax rates for four years, even while spending has increased. School operations not only have been fully funded, making up for state decreases, but the county commissioners actually added a teacher supplement and an innovative school bonus program. County employees have received raises, too.
Capital needs are being addressed. School renovations are underway, a new detention center is being built, as is an Agri-Conference Center. All this while maintaining a healthy county fund balance, which has helped improve the bond rating.
Will Orange County listen? It’s doubtful. Recall that last month Orange County hiked the property tax rate to 87.8 cents per $100 — and then formed a poverty council.