Local Politics

Transfer, Sales Tax Votes on Area Ballots

Posted October 30, 2007

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— Voters in several area counties will face the question of approving new taxes in next week's election.

In the new state budget, state lawmakers approved giving counties the option of imposing a new tax to address growth-related needs, such as more classroom space, improved roads or new water and sewer lines.

Chatham, Hoke and Moore counties are among 11 North Carolina counties asking voters whether to impose a land transfer tax equal to 0.4 percent of the sale price whenever property changes hands. Meanwhile, Cumberland, Robeson and Sampson counties are among 11 counties holding a referendum on whether to adopt a 0.25-cent local sales tax.

Harnett and Johnston counties are among five counties offering voters a choice between the land-transfer and local sales tax. If both initiatives are approved, county officials could impose only one.

Chatham County resident Ed Weintraub said he thinks a land transfer tax unfairly targets homeowners.

"I think it's a bad idea. It gives the county a permanent lien on your property," Weintraub said. "Why not target people who wear blue suits and have 401(k)s at (Research Triangle Park)? It's not fair."

But county officials point to projections of 15,000 new homes over the next decade, requiring six to eight new schools at a cost of about $350 million. They said the only other option for dealing with growth would be to raise property taxes.

"We think this is a much fairer tax," Commissioner George Lucier said.

A land transfer tax would generate about $2.5 million a year in Chatham County, officials said.

"The land transfer tax wouldn't be a do-all, fix-all, but it will pay the debt service on one school," Commissioner Mike Cross said.

Realtors and home builders waged a fierce advertising and lobbying campaign against the transfer tax in the General Assembly, saying it would drive up home prices. Lower-key efforts have targeted counties putting the question on the ballot this fall.

"What is 0.4 percent of $100,000? It's $400. If $400 is going to stop you from buying a house, you don't need to buy a house," Commissioner Patrick Barnes said.

Chatham County officials said they expect a close vote next Tuesday, but if the transfer tax fails, they vowed to continue putting it on the ballot until it passes.

Although Durham County voters won't vote on a transfer or sales tax, they will have bond packages on the ballot. City leaders want $20 million to improve sidewalks, while countywide bond issues include $194 million school renovations and other proposals for museum and community college improvements.


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  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 1, 2007

    Nancy, I'm with you! An impact fee is precisely the best way to pay for growth. You want a new home? Fine, you can contribute the new roads, schools, etc... It is totally unfair to tax the transfer of an existing home that has no add effect to the locality's infastructure!!!!

  • whatusay Nov 1, 2007

    Citizens of this state are OVER taxed as it is. I thought the lottery was supposed to solve our problems with building schools but we are now worse off than before. Let the developers/builders pay a fee for new developments or housing and pass it on to the new buyer. Why would an elderly person who has lived in the same house for 65 years have to pay a fee when selling their house to afford to go a nursing home. What are our elected officials thinking of? Why not tax bank loans, or raise parking fees, or tax everyone with white houses. Where do they come up with the hair brain ideas.

  • randywilloughby Oct 31, 2007

    Not only that, if 8 schools are costing 43 3/4 million dollars a piece, I think that we need to take a look at the contractors and see if these schools are being made out of GOLD!!!!

  • randywilloughby Oct 31, 2007

    "But county officials point to projections of 15,000 new homes over the next decade, requiring six to eight new schools at a cost of about $350 million. They said the only other option for dealing with growth would be to raise property taxes."

    Why isn't anybody asking about the money from the lottery. This is suppose to be an education lottery. I hear nothing about money helping with the schools and how much money is being moved from the state to the counties. 350 million just in additional schools for Chatham county. Grant it, that is 35 million a year, but I never hear anything about the lottery offsetting any of the costs.

  • whatusay Oct 31, 2007

    When is the last time you heard of a local government laying off employees? Lay off over half of the local government employees...no one will miss them. Government gets larger and larger and it needs more money to operate. It has too many people hiding...doing nothing...most look busy but what they are doing equates to nothing. Has this option every come up?

  • loudnoises Oct 31, 2007

    One possible unforseen consequence here is municpalities integrating a "transfer tax" and if it will be applied, upon sale of properties, to homeowners that are part of some "urban renewal" or other planned "blighting" process in order to keep down property values to make it cheap and easy for developers to come in.

    In that case you have 1) Property is "blighted" as part of a renewal process so the county is inclined to pay out only what they minimally get away with. and 2) Add the transfer tax to that sale from homeowner to governing authority.

    The property owners get screwed twice. Kick them out Pittsboro, your "commish" doesn't have your towns heart in it.

  • Nancy Oct 31, 2007

    .Xscout577 - in order to be able to use impact fees, our beloved (any tax is a good tax idea) state legislative body has to write the laws allowing such.

    Durham collected them for a while without state approval and the state made them refund the money collected AND made them pay 6% penalty back to the developers.

    So you see, it starts at the top of the dirt pile of politicians, Governor, state, municipal.

    We're at the bottom of that pile and the weight is getting uncomfortable.

  • Xscout577 Oct 31, 2007

    How about putting an IMPACT FEE on NEW HOUSES ... let the NEW neighbors help pay for the schools. Here's an even better idea for Johnston County ... instead of wasting money on a BRAND NEW SOCCER COMPLEX IN SMITHFIELD, put the money towards a NEW SCHOOL & put a moratorium on NEW BUILDING PERMITS IN THE COUNTRY SO YOU DON"T OVERLAOD THE INFRASTRUCTURE!!! (If I could fly a "one-finger salute" here, I think I would!!!)

  • bfbnyc Oct 30, 2007

    And when the housing market bottoms out and existing homeowners dont sell, Where does the money come from then....... THEY'LL JUST IMPROVISE ANOTHER TAX

  • Nancy Oct 30, 2007

    ."Simple logic...vote for the transfer tax."

    Why? Because you like paying tax on yet another thing never taxes before?

    How about you use your vote and kick the local elected officials (county commissioners) and state legislators/Governor out of office.

    Voting no will send a message on these types of nuisance taxes.