I hesitate to write, but I feel another opinion will keep the debate alive in regard to the land transfer tax. It has been an interesting and predictable process. At least the Ashe County Board of Commissioners is allowing us to choose our poison at the ballot box!
If we recall the debate, it was agreed by the majority that a new law enforcement center was needed. Multiple possibilities were discussed and the current plans were voted on by a majority of the commissioners at that time (not myself, however). I asked how would we pay for it and predicted that it would cost $21million. While the cost hasn’t reached that point, we should keep watching! This will not be a completed project, part of it will be “shell” building for future expansion and there will be future costs!
It is purported that land transfer tax is needed for the cost of schools, library, law enforcement center, and other costs of county function. Ashe County has a proud tradition of taking care of its schools and providing the very best for its students. We have always found money for our schools in the budget process. I feel this need for tax revenue is almost solely due to the law enforcement complex. If we could go back before the county hostilely invaded the town limits of Jefferson and had grandiose ideals of the jail size, we might not be looking at this tax increase.
What is the fairest tax? Each of us will have our own opinion. I endorse Governor Mike Huckabee’s national sales tax concept for us as a nation. I think the sales tax is also a better option locally. Why should property owners continue to bear the brunt of county spending? A sales tax involves everyone who buys goods and services. It would include those who are not property owners, but utilize the services of law enforcement. There comes a time when our property owners on fixed incomes can no longer hold on to their land because of the tax burden.
Will we see lower taxes? After seeing first hand how county government operates, I would say no. Remember, we function under majority rule. Only three out of the five county commissioners need to want a project and it is done. The county administration has to convince three on the board to get a positive vote and they do that well! It is easy to have grandiose plans when one’s not responsible for the bill. We as taxpayers will always bear the burden of the decisions of a few, our elected servants. The electorate can make a difference through the ballet box. I would pray we can avoid future “Eller” property debates and jail debates, but that would be too much to ask. There are more projects of county government coming. I only wonder what they will cost. I would encourage everyone to stay abreast of what is going on in county government, it is interesting!
Richard K. Calhoun