Local Politics

Voters Reject Transfer, Sales Taxes

Posted November 6, 2007
Updated November 7, 2007

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— Growth-related taxes were soundly rejected Tuesday by voters in most area counties.

State lawmakers approved giving counties the option of imposing a new tax to address needs like more classroom space, improved roads or new water and sewer lines to accommodate growing populations.

Counties could impose a land transfer tax equal to 0.4 percent of the sale price whenever property changes hands or a 0.25-cent local sales tax, provided voters approved the measures.

Officials said the new taxes were needed to give them an option other than property tax increases to raise the revenue needed to expand infrastructure as more families moved in.

But voters didn't agree and turned down the referenda by wide margins, in most cases.

In the closest votes, Cumberland County voters defeated a local sales tax by 52 to 48 percent, and Robeson County voters turned down the sales tax proposal by a 58 to 42 percent margin.

Meanwhile, the transfer tax was defeated 93-7 percent in Harnett County, 85-15 percent in Hoke County, 84-16 percent in Johnston County, 77-23 percent in Moore County and 70-30 percent in Chatham County.

"I think this sends a very strong message that the public feels this isn't a fair means of taxation," said Tim Kent, executive vice president of the North Carolina Association of Realtors. "(This is) clearly a victory for homeowners and housing affordability in this state."

Voters in Johnston and Harnett counties also defeated sales tax proposals by more than four-to-one margins.

Sampson County was the only area county to approve a tax Tuesday, as more than 77 percent of voters passed a local sales tax.

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 targeted counties putting the question on the ballot this fall.

The local sales tax proposal didn't generate nearly as much heat, either in the General Assembly or in area counties.

Kent said he hopes the results make other counties think twice about placing a transfer tax on the ballot in the future, especially with the slowdown in the housing market.

"The timing is horrendous right now to be placing another tax on home ownership," he said.

But Wake Up Wake County, a group that advocates for better growth management, said a transfer tax would raise about $50 million a year to help the county address needs brought on by booming growth. The group plans to lobby community organizations in the coming months to support a transfer tax in Wake County next year.

"It helps growth pay for growth," said Stan Norwalk, vice chairman of the group.


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  • ncwebguy Nov 7, 2007

    When is the vote to repeal the property tax? Why should property oweners pay for anything? If kids want an edcuation or health care, they should get a job or "earn" it by having rich parents. Let them pull themselves up by their size 2 bootstraps! Roads like 540 should be granted by the road fairy and fixed by the road repair trolls who come out at night! No tolls or gas taxes!

    In reality, impact fees can only cover about half of certain costs -- roads, etc. When a new house/townhouse/apartment/condo is built, the other costs associated with that impact is *not* covered by the impact fee. Growth does *not* pay for itself.
    The existing population pays.

    Now, instead of the home *buyer* paying the transfer tax, home *owners* will be taxed more to provide for all the things (roads, sewer, water, fire, police, etc.) the development/home builder/realtor lobby refuses to pay for with the profits they make per house.

  • Z Man Nov 7, 2007

    Boy did the real estate lobbyists pull the wool over the voters eyes on this one! And how can so many bonds pass? I belive strongly those voting for the bonds are the ones hit least by the increase in taxes to cover them. Geez - the street and sidewalk beautification bond passes? Gotta keep them crack houses looking good!

    Crazy - people will get in line to give away other peoples money!

  • dhoggard2 Nov 7, 2007

    Everyone says they need more money because of growth.. Let's see, usually more people living somewhere means more people paying taxes.. EXCEPT when most of the new people are illegal aliens who don't own property and have 8 kids.. They use more resources and pay very little or NO taxes. They rent so they pay no property taxes.. Before long, counties have no money to build schools and pay for resources needed by the population growth. We are giving away our country to a bunch of people who are not even citizens.. Saying I told you so isn't going to be comforting to me when I'm old!

  • discowhale Nov 7, 2007

    The problem is not developers, or newcomers or Fortune Magazine or even two headed, alien space invaders from the evil planet Selexia 9.3!

    The problem is the morons we vote into office wasting time and money on stupidity. Art, music museums, new trees along the Beltline, greenways with jogging paths, etc are all great things to have. But not at the expense of schools, roads, cops and firemen.

    When we, the taxpayers, budget for our homes, we cover necessities first. When the tax (ab)users get the tax dollars, they try to cover a percentage of everything, and that leaves everything short of funds. If you want to jog, go jog on the existing sidewalk, or at the existing high school track. Don't petition the city council for a new, tranquil, greenway, at the cost expense of no new schools, no more cops and better equipped firemen.

    Grow up, everybody can't get what they want!

  • Space Mountain Nov 7, 2007

    As far as job growth goes, we already have enough jobs here. We have enough people, Wal-Marts, malls, grocery stores, and restaurants. Isn't the whole reason for job growth is to bring more people to the area to support business? Well, if we already have enough people and enough businesses to enjoy things, then why do we need more jobs to bring more people here? It's starting to actually do the opposite and make things worse here and suck the life out of the area.

  • Space Mountain Nov 7, 2007

    A tax on the sale of existing homes is not the answer. The answer is impact fees on new development paid by the developers, not a tax paid by an existing home owner. The problem is the out of control developers.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 7, 2007

    Thanks to all that voted against these new taxes. I certainly hope if a sales tax or transfer tax shows up on a Wake County ballot we will have the good sense to vote them down as well. We also need to quit voting in these Bond issues. We need to cut school funding by 50% and get it down to a reasonable amount of the county and state budgets.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 7, 2007

    It's not the builders fault. The builders are the messengers.

    As long as businesses keep creating jobs in the area and people keep relocating to the area to fill the jobs. The builders are going to have to build houses so that the new arrivals have a place to live.

    You can't stop the growth without stopping job growth. When job growth stops, the economy normally contracts and jobs move elsewhere.

    We can't have the advantages of continued creation of high paying jobs without the disadvantages of home building that results as a byproduct of the job growth.

    Most of the people proposing increases in impact fees and transfer fees are a group of no growth proponents advocating no growth in Raleigh who want to go back to the way it was in 1985 when North Hills was the limit of northern growth.

  • SaveEnergyMan Nov 7, 2007

    Well duh! Do I want to pay more taxes? Let me see... sure, I love paying taxes! Did the legislators think we'd approve that?

    The comments about growth paying for itself are right on the money. Those who are imposing the costs on us should have to pay for it (impact fees). The developers are making out big time here and are funding the local campaigns to keep impact fees low. Don't cha love local politics!

  • Gneiss One Nov 7, 2007

    nice job to the ones who funded those ads with the misinformed woman driving around NC in that marked car. Persuaded quite a few folks with that slickness. If growth is such an issue that our water supply, schools and infrastructure are crumbling around us, then high time someone in the city and county admit their shortcomings. Maybe Fortune mag should print another story not about how this is a great place to live, but how the city is too big for its britches! Seems the label of best place to live is a curse to those who have lived here all their lives but are watching the big wigs be hypnotized by the almighty dollar. Don't want to turn into little Atlanta....too late we are already there. Someone lock the gate and take responsibility for the inability to plan and for only being able to count the dough before it is too late. Raleigh has lost its charm and there is no going home again.