The Ashe County Commissioners have been as forthright as they know how to be about the proposed land transfer tax. Information has been provided and shared with Ashe County citizens. New revenue will be needed to provide for new infrastructure such as the law enforcement center and jail. The commissioners’ ultimate goal, as stated over and over again, is to provide this new revenue in either of two ways: (1) passage of the proposed land transfer tax, or (2) a property tax increase of up to four cents.
What the commissioners have to gain or lose from this effort will be a gain or loss for Ashe County citizens. I will leave it to you as a reader of this letter to judge what those who are adamantly opposing the effort will gain. One thing might be to take note of the slick, shiny brochures which have been invading every home in Ashe County. Big money is required to produce and deliver these mailers. Those behind this scheme may have ulterior motives that go beyond a genuine concern for the citizens of Ashe County.
Please let me point out an example of untruth in the mailer that arrived on Saturday, April 26, 2008 in my mailbox. On the front of this mailer are the words “The Secret is Out”. Then, upon opening the mailer, the following sentence is the heading “The County Commissioners Don’t Want You to Know the Facts.” The very first fact contains a blatant deception. The following statement is made: “Dare and Currituck counties have a transfer tax and each rank in the top five of the 100 North Carolina counties in terms of property tax burdens. A tax burden is a far cry from a property tax rate. Every tax that is collected on both the state and local level is included in the calculation: income taxes on individuals and businesses; general sales taxes; product specific taxes such as those levied on gas, cigarettes and alcohol; property taxes on individuals and business; and a multitude of other taxes.
The fact is that Dare and Currituck counties have a land transfer tax and the tax rates in both counties are among the lowest of the 100 counties. Dare County has a property tax rate of 26 cents and the tax rate for Currituck County is 32 cents. Ashe County has a property tax rate of 39.5 cents with only nine of the 100 counties lower than Ashe. Both Dare and Currituck counties are among those nine.
A powerful lobby operating statewide is at work determined to defeat the effort to find new revenue for Ashe County other than ballooning property taxes. I urge the citizens of Ashe County to be very analytical as their decision is made concerning the land transfer tax referendum on May 6, 2008.