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Barfield refuses to raise property taxes during his first State of the County address

READ MORE: Barfield refuses to raise property taxes during his first State of the County address
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- We've heard the State of the Union, the State of the State and the State of the City. Now it's time for an update on New Hanover County.

In tonight's State of the County address, New Hanover County Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield talked about where we've been and where we are headed as a community.

Just like many other counties in North Carolina, New Hanover is still struggling to stay afloat because of a tight budget.

There was no denying the times are going to get tougher and the decisions will be harder for Barfield. New Hanover County, along with 99 other counties in the state, will absorb a nearly $3 billion dollar budget deficit from the state.

County leaders say they refuse to let the state keep pushing their problems to the county level. Barfield made a promise to county residents and vowed not raise property taxes Monday night.

From schools to the Department of Social Services to a new ABC Board, Barfield has a long list of objectives to change or fix in his first year as commission chair.

County Manager Bruce Shell said this year has been the toughest by far budgetwise. He said a lot of what the new budget year depends on comes from the state's economic status.

"Counties exist at the blessing of the state, as do cities," Shell said. "We are here to serve and do mostly state type of functions, so if the state needs help, then as a child of the state, that's where local governments have to come in, and unfortunately our burden often falls in the property tax rate or cutting expenditures."

The county's Department of Social Services was hit the hardest after it cut 16 positions while facing an increasing workload.

"We're serving more people with more caseworkers, but we did not add one single job," said Barfield.

When it comes to jobs Barfield wants more of them. Residents agree, but don't want them with companies like the proposed Titan Cement Plant.

"I think there's many other ways," said Kayne Darrell, who came out Monday night to express her thoughts about Titan. "I just read in the paper today that Home Depot is hiring 100 new employees and they're not doing any damage to the environment."

Commissioners say the final decision to bring Titan to our area lies in the hands of the state. The state also has the final say in our county's budget. About 80% of the county's budget is mandated by the state. Barfield says the county cannot allow the state to fix it's budget problems by burdening the 100 counties that make up North Carolina. If they do our county's schools, mental health departments, social services and jails could all take a hit.

"We found the local government tightens it belt, but in New Hanover County the budget is not broken," said Barfield.

Residents stayed after the address to voice their opinions at the county commissioner meeting. Some say they'd like to see more cuts in the county's spending, but in 2009 the county spent $217 million dollars from the general fund. In 2010, it spent $168 million dollars. The commission cut nearly $50 million dollars in their spending and it's a trend commissioners hope to continue in the new year.

"I think we need to do a better job of planning instead of going by the seat of our pants," said Darrell.

Barfield emphasized the county has made big strides by voting to increase the sales tax in 2010. It's been the leading contributor to meeting the needs and wants of the community. Barfield said the vote has helped New Hanover County become a "more resilient community" because it saved many departments that help keep the county special and unique and it kept open "one of the most important museums operated by a local government anywhere in North Carolina."

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For everyone that has made a

For everyone that has made a comment on this page. Answer this question? Have you attended any meetings? Any town hall meetings? Have you visited any of the county offices and requested meeting minutes to review and get information? Have you placed a phone call or sent email to the local government office about your concerns or issues. Probably not, you rely on media to feed you information. Please seek more information instead of making comments with no facts to base it on.
Oh and yes, as a citizen I have viewed meeting minutes, I have copy of the budget, I and have addressed my concerns directly with the officials. Stop talking and Get involved!!!! Carry on....

property taxes not going up, huh?

I for one would like to know how Barfield came to the conclusion that the county is not going to raise property taxes. When and if the revaluation for this year goes through (which I dont think it will again) the property values for the taxpayers will go down but because of this the county property tax rate will have to go up to make up the difference. The county has a budget and revenue from property taxes is where a big chunk of this comes from. They have to make up this difference. Barfield is probably right property taxes wont go up this year because they will put the revalution on hold for another year and another until it reaches the required 8 year mark. So they will hire more people to start the revalution like last year just to put it on hold. Wasting more money. Wish they would get their facts straight before making promises to the county hard working taxpayers that they cant keep.

Barfield&Thompson lies and delusions

There they go again- Barfield and Thompson in a land of fantasy! Barifeld and Thompson were for Titan just before they were against it. Barfield and Thompson were for tax increases before they were against them. Barfield and Thompson were against transparency(remember the gravely?) before they were for it. Ah well at least Thompson and Barfield did not threaten to fight anybody last night. Thompson is going and Barfield the farce needs to go.

Titan and Barfield-HE LIED TO US

YOU ARE CORRECT. HE HAS SUPPORTED TITAN UNTIL VERY RECENTLY. EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW THAT. WE WERE AMAZED AT HIS STATEMENT AT LAST NIGHTS MEETING THAT WE KNEW HE WAS OPPOSED. HE IS RUNNING AGAIN SO HE HAS BEGUN TO LIE TO US. HE SUPPORTED THE SALES TAX INCREASE AND IS THE BIGGEST SPENDER ON THE COMMISSION. SHAME ON BARIFELD- YOUR RECORD OF SPEND AND TAX AND YOUR SUPPORT OF TITAN ARE KNOWN TO US ALL. A majority of us should show him the door in the next election-and we will!

Yes, Barfield might have

Yes, Barfield might have supported the sales tax increase but it was the people of NHC that approved it....the sales tax wasn't passed just because he supported it so don't blame Barfield, blame the voters of NHC, your anger is misdirected!!!

They should be lowering the taxes!

With property values sliding off the scale, we are already paying way more than we should. My tax value is over 100K greater that the actual value of my real estate.
Remember there was supposed to be a re-evalutaion of properties to occur in '09, but is was "temporarily" waived. Sort of like the "Temporary Sales Taxes".

Imagine that?

Correct me if I'm wrong,

I'm pretty sure when reevaluations take affect the county will adjust the tax rate to produce the same property tax revenue. So, if on average homes are valued at 25% less, then the tax rate raises 25% to make up the difference. The county isn't just going to get by on 25% tax revenue.

From my understanding, the only people that have something to gain are those whose property values have fallen greater than the average. Like maybe the beach towns.

Again, please correct me if I'm wrong.

Exactly

I agree that property values are heading straight to the sewer around here. A revaluation is definitely needed for all property owners. Do you think the county will leave the tax rate the same or increase it so they can maintain their anticapted funds? Over the next few months there is talk of a large number of foreclosures hitting the market. This is going to cause property values to drop even more. Do you think the promise of no tax increase will hold after a reevaluation of property values.

Not a chance

Not a chance the tax rate will stay the same if the reevaluation goes through. The county gets the tax rate by taking how much is going to be needed for that year to run the county then they take the property base values that they have for the county then devide them into each other. Thats how they get the tax rate. The county will never make what they need to run if they keep the rate the same if the reevaluation goes through. The county has already had so many foreclosures and there is many more to come.

Barfield and Thompson=evil empire

Remember the gravely payback by these jokers to their friend, we sure do. Remember the sales tax increase, we sure do. These jokers Barfield and Thompson want a gold plated skyway bridge in town. Hey guys their are a lot more voters than their are developers/landlords like you clowns. Barfield and Thompson speak for the few--Thompson is running away shooting from his mouth and Barfield is taking good care of himself and his developer friends and trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Your comments are so right on . These guys are like the evil empire.