HENDERSON, N.C. — The city of Henderson will freeze vacant jobs and may have to raise property taxes 8.5 cents. The news is not sitting well with some people.
"I don't think we need any more taxes. We've got enough," property owner Dorothy Williams said.
"We sympathize with citizens and the fact that 8.5 cents is hard to swallow," said Mike Rainey, of the Henderson City Council.
The bigger problem is that progress may come with a price. A major challenge in Henderson's proposed budget is funding the Clean-Up Henderson program to rid the area of dilapidated houses, brush and high grass.
The Embassy Square project downtown to create jobs is also high on the budget priority list. Supporters said a tax hike will help pay the way for Henderson's future even if it hurts now.
"I think it's just a matter of cutting out the fluff," City Councilwoman Elissa Yount said.
Mayor Clem Seifert and the majority of the city council favor raising water and sewer rates before raising property taxes.
"People can handle probably a $5 fee per month increase in the sewer rates versus a tax increase," Seifert said.
Council members say taxes will go up, but they vow the increase will be less than the proposed 8.5 cents.
With the tax hike, people in Henderson will pay $695 for a $100,000 house. Chapel Hill residents pay $550 in taxes while Durham residents pay $545 in taxes. Raleigh residents pay $385 in taxes. All three cities are also considering a hike to their property tax rate.
If the Henderson increase goes through, the town would have the 10th highest municipal tax rate in the state.