LETTER: Citizens should demand lower property tax rate

Jun. 15, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

To the Editor:

The Sanford City Council is poised to increase the property tax rate by 7 cents per $100 valuation. This is a 13 percent increase over last year's rate. The council has been unwilling to look at ways to prevent this increase, although Councilman Charles Taylor has urged them to do so.

In addition to the proposed 13 percent increase, the council is asking city residents to vote for an additional 5.25 percent increase in taxes to pay for feel-good projects around town. It is unconscionable that these politicians are proposing to raise taxes by more than 18 percent while residents are struggling to survive a multi-year recession.

Anyone that has analyzed the city's financial situation knows that it is not only unnecessary to raise taxes; the city should immediately reduce the tax rate.

One of the least painful ways to preclude a tax hike is to decrease the fund balance. The fund balance is the "money in the bank." At the end of this fiscal year, Sanford's fund balance was $9,411,869 or 39.65 percent. These are taxpayer dollars setting in a bank from year to year. According to Standard and Poor's Rating Services, the average municipal fund balance in North Carolina is a "very strong" 24.7 percent. Sanford's is almost 15 percent higher than the average.

Another way to decrease the tax rate pay is to privatize the city the golf course. Records show that last year's golf course revenue was $523,545, but the operating cost to taxpayers was $702,067; a loss of $178,522.

City residents should demand that the city council immediately reduce property taxes. Next November, residents will have an opportunity to vote on whether to continue this kind of disregard for their well-being. Let us hope that they are paying attention.

Charles Staley

Chairman

Republican Party of Lee County