Local Politics

Durham County Eyes New Tax Options

Posted August 6, 2007

— A week after state lawmakers approved a budget giving counties the option of imposing a local sales tax or a real estate transfer tax, Durham County officials decided Monday to start gauging public opinion on whether to adopt either levy.

"We're clearly behind the eight-ball here, and the property tax is just getting squeezed," County Manager Mike Ruffin said.

Durham Public Schools, for example, needs an estimated $500 million in upgrades over the next 10 years to keep up with added enrollment.

Property tax revenue isn't providing enough money to handle local growth, Ruffin said. He said the best way to get ahead of the curve is to adopt a quarter-cent sales tax increase or a transfer tax equal to 0.4 percent of the sale price of a home.

A local sales tax would bring an extra $9.8 million to Durham County in the first year and more than $106 million over the next 10 years, he said. A transfer tax would bring in $11.6 million the first year and more than $156 million by 2017, he said.

"If my numbers are correct, (a tax increase) would service $154 (million) of $197 million dollars worth of school debt. That means no tax rate increase except for the difference," he said.

The county will began polling local residents this week, and officials expect to have results of the survey by Aug. 24. A public hearing on the taxes, which would have to be approved by a voter referendum in November, is scheduled for next Monday night.

Some members of the county Board of Commissioners said they worry that either tax option would hit low-income people the hardest.

"I really want to make sure we're sensitive to our citizens who really experience hardships," Commissioner Michael Paige said.


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  • cyanna Aug 7, 2007

    The misleading, bullying campaign by developers against the transfer fee makes me sick. New development is most responsible for the school needs, and MANY developers and realtors have gotten rich while the rest of us citizens struggle to keep up with new schools, roads, etc. that their projects require. We have been subsidizing developer fortunes TOO LONG. It's WAY PAST TIME for them to contribute. Crocodile tears.

  • DurhamMan Aug 7, 2007

    1. I am against this tax because it targets homeowners only. Renters are not hit. And we should all pay equally the same percentage to improve schools, roads, etc. without targeting a specific demographic (imagine if Durham was tax a specific race). Besides, like all taxes, I don't believe that the money will be well accounted.

    2. If the transfer tax passes, it should not affect EXISTING homeowners. Yes, it may have a slight impact on selling our home, but since this new tax is coming in now, those existing homeowners should not be forced to pay a tax they weren't prepared for when buying the home in the first place (all new homeowners would obviously know what to expect).

    3. If the tax goes through, it should ONLY be applied to profit, NOT the entire sale amount. If I sell my house at a loss, why increase the loss with a tax?

    4. I took a risk buying rather than renting in Durham. Homeownership should be encouraged. More taxes on homeowners hurt and discourage. Just unfair.

  • richard2 Aug 7, 2007

    Durham county never met a tax if didn't like.

  • hp277 Aug 7, 2007

    -All public roads outside town / city limits are maintained by NCDOT.
    -The City of Durham gets no property tax revenue from RTP. RTP cannot be annexed. Only Durham County and Wake COunty get property tax revenue from RTP.
    -I agree that we need new blood on the Durham City Council, starting with the Mayor.

  • MR EVANS Aug 7, 2007


  • Pharmboy Aug 7, 2007

    Durham city has one of the highest property taxes in the state! We are much higher than Raleigh, yet have worse schools, roads, less downtown revitalization, and more crime. What's wrong here! Where are all the current funds going? This city shares the RTP and all the big companies, yet we don't have enough money. People, it's time to elect officials that aren't fat and old. We need new blood to displace the old stagnant city council. This city has so much potential, but everyone would rather live in North Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Apex, than here.

  • captain103 Aug 7, 2007

    I am to say the disgusted with Durham government. I know some people say it won't do any good but I have emailed each county commisioner with my concern for higher taxes. No more taxes! End of discussion! Let's have a public hearing for lowering taxes.

  • mramorak Aug 7, 2007

    Just look at most of the eog math scores its unbelievable!

  • IdoNOTliveinDurham Aug 7, 2007

    hp277, who maintains the state rd SR8387 for example. I do an have paid my fair share of taxes over a many years. The "county" gets shafted everytime when it comes out to handing out money for road and facilities. The portions of roads they did just resurface was sprayed tar and gravel. I live on a "state maintained" dit gravel road and the grass believe it or not is head high and they have to be called to scrap it. We have to beg for gravel and we have to track mud up to all of our new homes.

  • mramorak Aug 7, 2007

    First i would find all the folks that are embezzling most of the taxes in the first place!