Local Politics

Land-transfer tax loses 20th straight vote

Posted May 6, 2008
Updated May 7, 2008

— Voters in Orange County and three other counties on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a land-transfer tax, marking the 20th time in 20 votes statewide the tax has lost at the polls.

Meanwhile, a quarter-cent local sales tax met opposition in most of the seven area counties that considered the measure.

In Orange County, 66 percent – 28,053 – of the votes cast were against the land-transfer tax, with 34 percent – 14,288 – for it. The proposal also was defeated by sizable margins in Ashe, Gates and Tyrrell counties.

The tax would have collected 0.4 percent of the sale price for homes and other real estate.

State lawmakers approved the land-transfer tax option last year to give counties a way to raise money to deal with growth-related spending, such as new schools, improved roads and expanded water and sewer systems.

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Orange County officials spent $100,000 in taxpayer money on an "educational campaign" to inform local voters about the tax. Opponents criticized the move, saying the county was spending tax money to advocate another tax.

Realtors, developers and other special interest groups have led the opposition to the transfer tax across the state since last year.

Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey said previously that he and his colleagues opted for the transfer tax because it would impact fewer people than a sales tax, which lawmakers also offered as an option for cash-strapped counties.

Six months ago, 16 counties put the proposal on the ballot, and voters in all of them overwhelmingly rejected it.

The local sales tax did better last fall, with five counties approving it.

On Tuesday, 82 percent of Wayne County voters rejected a local sales tax, as did 73 percent in Wilson County, 63 percent in Moore County, 61 percent in Nash County, 55 percent in Lee County and 68 percent in Edgecombe County.

The tax referendum passed in Cumberland County with 52 percent of the vote.


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  • Not_So_Dumb May 7, 2008

    It all boils down to a simple choice. Do you believe:

    A - government needs more money


    B - government needs to spend less

    All this talk about which tax, who pays and so on is just ketchup. The meat is how much they spend.

  • whatusay May 7, 2008

    Local governments are getting larger and larger. The problem is they keep hiring more and more employees at the expense of taxpayers. They need to reduce what they pay out (called budgeting). Growth pays for it's self in new property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, school taxes, business taxes, and fees. They just need someone who is good at spending money the right way instead of looking for ways to increase taxes.

  • paradox2920 May 7, 2008

    NCweb...I'm confused why does it matter if a county is slow growing? If it has high turnover of existing properties one could pay a "transfer tax" and simply move down the road. I'm in favor of a tax on new residential properties here in wake county whether they're passed on to the consumer or not, the people that argue it will reduce the affordability of homes are a joke. If you can't afford to pay the 3,000 development tax(2%) in a 150k house loan you probably really can't afford the house to begin with. Just like cars, if you can't afford the payments for brand new...buy used. In a perfect world yes, the developers should cough up the $...but either way someone has to pay the piper.

  • ncwebguy May 7, 2008

    The ignorance here is quite strong...

    Failing once in twenty different places is not the same as failing twenty times.

    The train of thought that equates those two is the same thinking that considers a property *sales* tax is worse than paying an annual property *ownership* tax. The transfer tax is only paid when property changes hands, not every year.

    Slow growing counties don't need the tax and it never should have been on their ballot. But they put it there to increase the fail count.

    Devlopers get a free ride. They don't pay anything for the parks, schools, roads, etc. that exist *outside* their property, yet reap their benefit through higher prices for their product. They pay less than cost for connection and inspection fees due to increasing the tax base (eventually). They pass along those costs *and* whine about how their profits are affected.

    If people want to be taxed more to pay for the newcomers while devleopers count $, their voice has been heard.

  • RonnieR May 7, 2008

    I'm quite surprised that it failed, I thought Orange County was
    a haven for Dems. Dems usually never see a tax that they don't love!

  • mmania May 7, 2008

    they have to be creative to keep coming up with things to tax. Pretty soon there will be an air tax. It's coming just wait.

  • scientistjo May 7, 2008

    "it is a bad idea" -colliedave

    What an intelligent argument, thank you for repeating this slogan for the billionth time. Since you all voted against the transfer tax, EVERY homeowner will now have to pay more in property taxes to make up the $3.5 million the transfer tax would have provided for schools and parks.

  • colliedave May 7, 2008

    When such a tax fails by a wide margin in the Peoples' Republic of Orange County it is a bad idea. It would be interesting to see the breakdown between Chapel Hill/Carboro and the rest of the county.

  • hi_i_am_wade May 7, 2008

    If you drive a car, I'll tax the street.
    If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat.
    If you ride the bus, I'll tax your seat.
    If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

    The Beatles words in that song ring true now more than ever.

  • veyor May 7, 2008

    while voting for Mr. Tax - Obama (hilarious)