ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. — The mention of raising taxes usually sparks strong debate, especially when local property taxes go up. Leaders of a Halifax County town recently caught many taxpayers by surprise by suggesting a tax cut.
Officials said economic recovery is going well in Roanoke Rapids. New shopping centers and a large home center near Interstate 95 appear to have the town back on its feet.
"I think we can afford to cut taxes without decreasing services and it's giving back to the taxpayers. It's their money," city councilman Jon Baker said.
Years ago, Roanoke Rapids was a thriving textile mill community, but now the mills are gone as well as the jobs. Mayor Drewery Beale, who spent 30 years as the town's police chief, remembers those dark days.
"I've seen the town have to go to the mill companies and say, 'Hey, pre-pay your taxes, so we can pay our employees,'" he said. "We don't ever want that to happen again."
Beale said the cut in individual property taxes could run as much as 2 cents.