Local Politics

Gurley: Wake schools should fire attorneys

Posted May 8, 2008
Updated May 9, 2008

— A Wake County commissioner on Thursday urged the county school system to fire its attorneys because of confusion that officials said cost local taxpayers more than $600,000.

North Carolina school districts aren't exempt from state sales tax, so local officials agreed two years ago to shift ownership of schools to the county, which is tax-exempt and could purchase construction materials and everyday supplies like paper while saving the 6.75 percent sales tax.

County Manager David Cooke said in a memo last month that the district has been so slow in handing over the deeds to the schools that $615,981 in tax savings has been lost.

Commissioner Tony Gurley said Thursday that the lost savings has now topped $700,000, and he blamed the district staff and lawyers for Tharrington Smith, which represents the district, for the problem.

"The next step is for the school system to get new attorneys," he said.

Tharrington Smith officials declined to comment, but district officials were quick to defend their lawyers.

"I think we have a very good attorney," school board member Lori Millberg said. "I think this has been a very complicated process."

District administrators have disputed the math Cooke used to calculate the lost savings, contending the amount is closer to $70,000.

Millberg said the district has transferred deeds to more than half of its property, which has saved more than $2 million in sales tax.

"Every dollar we get is a tax dollar. What we're doing is using tax dollars to pay taxes," she said. "We are trying to do what's best for taxpayers."


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  • happymom May 9, 2008

    1. Mr. Gurley has been incredibly responsive and helpful to those of us trapped in the nightmare that is the WCPSS. I applaud him and will vote for him again when he comes up for re-election. He understands the word "accountability" and he holds the school board's feet to the fire. Given the school board's incompetence, we need it.

    2. Someone made a silly comment about district voting making people accountable. How are the idiots that forced year-round schools onto 1(ONE) district accountable to us? The only member that opposed our district being the scapegoat for the county was the ONE board member who represents that district (Mr. Margiotta). We were targeted because we couldn't defend ourselves. Make the entire board accountable to everyone they are making decisions about and let's see if we can't get a more fair and balanced approach to governance.

  • piller May 9, 2008

    The NC legislature should be blamed. It is ridiculous to make the school systems jump through hoops to get these refunds. This is just another way the state takes money back from our schools and local governments. Make the schools EXEMPT from sales tax.

  • ncwebguy May 9, 2008

    It is amazing how the Wake County Board of Corruption, I mean Commissioners, can do no wrong and the WC Board of Education can do no right. It is the *county's* fault, and they are blaming the schools. Pathetic. Either Gurley and the commissioners should come up with the $700k they cost the tax payers, or they should quit.

    The only ones I voted for were the ones that ran unopposed. The others -- Coble, Gurley, etc. -- I voted for their opponents. Unfortunatly I was in the minority. Unlike people who call for the firing and/or jailing of the school board, I resepect the decision of the majority. I just hope the majority is paying attention and seeing that their vote is costing money due to neglect and/or incompetence.

  • chargernut69 May 9, 2008

    Well, who would have "thunk" that attorneys could cause confusion? Their only driving force is the "Almighty Dollar"....

  • NCPictures May 9, 2008

    I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO happy to be out of Wake county. When are you folks going to wake up to what these people are doing to you?

    Lets see, what next for Wake County.... we have the school district, the garbage disposal farce, the water issues (and now they are raising rates).....

    Dont you folks get tired of being the laughing stock of the area?

  • down by the pond May 9, 2008

    I agree with dianadarling...."too busy trying to fabulous" crammin year round into all wakecounty families and taking the parental consent out of year round schools ,, yes that is more important than transferring deeds when the county says , hey we can help you save money. It is also pitiful when the lead story on our local tv stations almost every day is wake county school reassigment,year rounds blah blah blah
    That is why we moved out of wake county and now our children attend the nearby community school that we live near, that people help, your neighbors go to the same school and their is pride and ownership,,, not being shipped across town every other year,,,, and wake county schools wonder why there is so "little parental involvement", reap what you sow........

  • gopack54 May 9, 2008

    Why does every "news story" about WCPS wind up bringing on the comments about year-round school being crammed down sombody's throat? If you don't like what the school system is offering, nobody made you move here and nobody is making you stay.

  • gopack54 May 9, 2008

    Perhaps Mister Gurley took a few too many bumps to the noggin while driving a race car. How much longer does he have as a county commissioner? Doesn't seem to matter what the subject is, he wants to argue about everything. Looking forward to a little more cooperation between the commissioners and the school board when he's gone!

  • dianadarling May 9, 2008

    the lawyers are too busy trying to ramrod mandatory year round down people's throats to pay attention to REAL ISSUES.

  • GWALLY May 9, 2008

    Lets see.....I didn't pay my taxes cause my lawyer was not open on Sunday. That was the only day I could be off work. Yea....sounds like a good enough excuse to me and I'm sure the IR(a)A won't mind!!!! I just love to hear a good beaucratic argument........no one is EVER at fault!!!!