Local News

Lake Gaston homeowners make waves over property tax rate

Posted May 29, 2009 4:57 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2009 6:35 p.m. EDT

— Homeowners on Lake Gaston are demanding that Warren County cut its proposed budget for the coming year and lower the local property tax rate.

When the county conducted its eight-year property revaluation this year, some home values along the lake tripled. Although the Board of Commissioners plans to roll the tax rate back from 92 cents per $100 value to 61 cents, lake homeowners say that's not enough.

"I think the lake is seen as the goose that lays the golden egg," homeowner Linda Browne said.

Browne and her neighbors complained that their property taxes would jump 20 to 40 percent under the county's draft budget, and they wanted the tax rate cut to 51 cents per $100 value. That rate would produce the same amount of revenue as the 92-cent rate did with the lower property values, they said.

The Lake Gaston Association, a homeowner's group, said a higher tax rate also would discourage businesses from locating on the North Carolina side of the lake.

"It's going to make them less competitive with the other counties," association president John Cataldo said.

Warren County officials said cutting the tax rate further could force them to furlough or lay off employees.

"The citizens would lose in the end if we were to start cutting services," County Manager Linda Worth said. "You've got to find the money from somewhere. Just do the math."

Lake Gaston homeowners contend the county could easily cut new spending in the budget, such as four additional sheriff's deputies. Worth said, however, that many county residents asked for improved law enforcement.

Commissioners are expected to set the tax rate and approve a budget next month.

"I think (this situation is) what everybody's facing now. It's not just Warren County," lake homeowner Bill Solari said. "Other counties (also) are having to do things."