New Hanover sales tax increase proposed to ease budget problems
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New Hanover County Commissioners are proposing a sales tax increase to help deal with budget shortfalls. They hope voters will approve the increase this November so they can ease budget problems caused by the struggling economy. Poor retail sales and revenue from county fees have already forced New Hanover County to layoff employees and delay projects. “Realizing that county services are cut way back, we've got to find a way to bridge the gap so to speak,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. North Carolina has a state sales tax of 4.5 percent. Counties add to that, to raise money for the local government. In all five of our area counties, the sales tax is 6.75 percent. New Hanover County Commissioners want to ask voters to approve a one-quarter of a percent increase. If approved, New Hanover would be the eighth county in the Tar Heel State with a 7.0 percent sales tax and would be just one-quarter percent behind Mecklenburg County for the top spot. Storeowners said they don't think it will impact sales at the cash register. “Nobody's going to stop and say no I’m not going to buy that because it's seven percent,” said Mary Ellen Golden of Golden Gallery. But they're worried it could make getting people into the store more difficult. “I feel like an increase in taxes would possibly cause tourism to slow down, and that's what this town is based on,” said Port City Pottery Owner Pam Grenough. The county is dealing with a $12 million budget deficit for the 2009-2010 fiscal year that takes effect in July. Officials say the increase would raise almost $7.5 million a year, but that could change with the economy. “Our citizens demand and expect a certain level of service that has to be paid for and the sales tax is the fairest way to do that,” said Commissioner Jason Thompson. Some county residents said they're not opposed to increasing the tax, as long as it's the last resort. “First thing are we fiscally responsible and if we're sure of that and there's no other choice, then that's what we have to do,” said Tom Barber of Wilmington. Most commissioners said they hope a sales tax increase will prevent property tax increases in the future. Even if residents approve the sales tax increase in November, it won't take effect until April of 2010.

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I live in a "tourist popular" area of Texas and the sales tax is 7.25%. It does not bother the huge numbers of folks who come here to eat, shop, and BUY things. Just thought I'd give my 2 cents on the possibility of your increase hurting retail sales. Wilmington is a GREAT place to visit and I don't see it slowing down. I just recently visited and I can't see that an increase would have slowed that Azalea Festival crowd.
I see that a lot of people are upset about this, but do you realize that this tax increase is only an additional $0.25 for every $100 spent? $0.025 for every $10? It's not that big of a deal! Help out your state! We are all responsible for its upkeep.
Do not raise taxes, or it will never stop. Fix the other end...the spending end. Look at the city & county budgets, and you will be upset by the waste and needless programs, projects, etc. When they want to raise taxes to bankroll their out of control spending, they throw the job card out. Do not buy that...look at the budget. As long as you refuse to see the facts, and believe the excuses, you will be taxed to destruction.
I would vote for it. I wouldn't mind paying a few extra pennies when I buy something, if it means that no more county services will be cut back, or it would help save somebody else's job. A few dollars from a lot of people for the public good seems like a fair deal. I'd rather live in a society that costs a little more that offers the basic necessities to live a good life, the not.
I think as a last resort they should increase the sales tax. It seems the county is at the end of their rope and have done all they can. So in the words of our Great President, "It will get worse before it gets better." It's time for the citizens to all pitch in a little more for this wonderful county and Yes I was born and raised here and still live here. Lets just hope it gets better soon....
If you spend and spend and spend, then you tax and tax and tax. Maybe when the Obama "administration" (because he is not writing, or even reading the bills) starts raising taxes on everyone, voters will finally believe they cannot escape this formula.
It wouldn't matter to me. The office I work in has cut our hours & may cut again by summer if things don't pick up. I do work a 2nd job but lately that's covering the income I lose from my 1st job. I've cut back on ALL extra spending-No cable, satellite, didn't buy a converter box-not in my budget, no dining out, movies, I desperately need new shoes-not in my budget, I'm even eating less cause groceries cost more, don't drink, smoke or do drugs-legal or illegal. I don't have a computer at home-I'm on the one at work (here early to check the news/weather), no credit card. The only debt I have is my mortgage-I bought a foreclosure for $65k. I live on the basics in life. Don't get me wrong-I'm happy I work & am able to pay my bills. I've learned to let it all go not worth it, now when I watch TV somewhere else it gets on my nerves-read alot of books from the library. If our local/state/federal gov'ts & the top executives of the world would do the same maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.
Our unemployment rate is increasing daily and all they can come up with is to raise taxes? With more and more people finding themselves without jobs, how do they expect these people to pay for things when they are having to end up paying more for what they could barely afford yesterday?
You wrote: "all they can come up with is to raise taxes?" Hardly. As an employee, I can assure you that the county did NOT start addressing a tough economy and a budget shortfall by hitting the taxpayer first. County employees are losing one full month of pay, so raising taxes is HARDLY "all they can come up with." You also raise an excellent point: More and more people are finding themselves without jobs. I'm sure that you will therefore agree with me when I say that companies like Titan should come NOW and bring their jobs and their money with them!
I just lost 5 hours pay per week. I am still required to work just as many hours as I did before the cut. I also lost 2 days off per month. Before I worked 5 days one week and 6 the next week, now I am required to work 6 days every week, and on top of that get paid 20 hours less per month than before the cut. Yes, I am grateful to still have a job, I am blessed. So I guess you could say I have lost 20 hours pay per month, and I am also working 16 hours more per month for no extra pay, equaling 36 hours per month, times 12 months equals 432 hours per year, and I am doing the same work that I did before. That equals a 21 percent loss in pay with the days I am required to work for free. BUT, I am still blessed to have a job.
Don't stand for this! Contact the US Dept. of Labor and report these people. It's the law that you have to be paid for hours worked. Just because the economy is bad doesn't mean you have to be taken advantage of and forced to work without pay.
Ok, I can stand no more. The past three years I have taken raises less than the rate of inflation. I work for the county's largest employer. The work we do is based on need, and is recession proof. We only get paid for 47% of what we do (probably less this year). We are not buying new equipment, new office supplies, or hiring new people. I am furious with the city and county governments for screwing up their budgets, and having the audacity to raise taxes. They should be downsizing, cutting everyone's budget by a percentage, and eliminating programs that are redundant, outdated, or wasteful. Consolidate any and all departments between the city and county. If some people lose their sweet govenment jobs with benefits that do not in any way match a private job's benefits, then so be it. I have never understood why government "service" warrants a lifetime of medical benefits and a retirement. Most people work 20-30 years at a private company and get a minimal retirement with no health benefits. News flash, not everyone can work for the government, that would be called communism...
Times are hard and getting harder. Is this the best idea they can come with? Wow how original. Ever heard of tighening up. Oh we have,have we? What laying off workers.Did'nt offer a dollar less an hour for those who may have taken that.Would'nt have made a difference you say.Higher Ups not offering a pay cut for themselves? Are they going to cover for the loss of workers? What they have come up with is what we as a people are allowing them to do. We in our homes faced with hard times manage things alot differently.We don't layoff our wife or childern.We do selloff some of the things we can do with out,like travel,vacations,dinning out.Some of the projects the county and city have are still moving on despite hard times.This is not the answer.Taxing is not a line of credit.Who will you have to tax? If we all are not working.What are you doing,besides the same ole song and dance.Can you not tell we have had enough.We pay enough already,BACKOFF!! It's not going to work.
First, let me state that I am a citizen living in New Hanover County, and I am also an employee of New Hanover County. As both a taxpayer and as someone gainfully employed, I can understand your frustration. Second, I have to respectfully disagree with you on some points. You questioned whether or not county leaders have considered "tightening up" as a response to a diffcult economy and budget shortfall. As an employee, I can assure you that they have indeed tightened up. The county's first plan to steer a course through these dark times was to cut and scale back among employees. They reasoned that looking inward (to employees) as opposed to starting off with taxpayers (increasing property taxes) was the first step. As a result, county employees MUST now take furlough - one week before the end of June, and two more weeks within the next year. We also will not be paid for holidays. Our training budgets have been cut dramatically. We are unable to hire additional employees, even though doing so will mean certain salaried employees will have to pick up the slack WITHOUT the benefit of additional (overtime) pay. As a employee, this means that I am earning much less than I was. No one is denying that you are also facing hard times, and I hope that you can also see that I and every other county employee have taken financial hits so that the county would not have to initiate drastic measures against the citizens first. We are going to lose 3 weeks of pay as a result of mandatory furloughs. We are also losing pay for 8 holidays. That's a full month without pay. Can YOU afford to take a full month without a salary and do it comfortably? One full month of pay GONE for every county employee really DOES mean that a dollar less an hour wouldn't have made much difference. Besides...what employee - ANYWHERE - in their right mind jumps up and says "SURE! Cut my pay, PLEASE! I'm okay with it!" We as county employees were not asked if we wanted to lose a full month of pay. Yes, the county most definitely "tightened up" as far as I'm concerned, and they did NOT start "tightening up" by squeezing taxpayers first. It is my understanding that the increase in sales tax would result in $7,000,000.00 in the first year alone. Let me ask you this: If it was a private company looking at a gain of that magnitude, would you also be opposed to it? I really don't see how the county can afford NOT to consider a SLIGHT increase in the sales tax. I also can't understand what point you're trying to make when you question who will be taxed if we are not all working. Do you really mean to imply that EVERYONE in the county will be unemployed and therefore unable to pay any taxes? My guess is no, you aren't really because that is just absurd. This is a serious matter, and kneejerk responses like that are quite simply of no benefit. As a taxpayer, will I be ecstatic about paying more in sales tax? No, of course not. However, if that SLIGHT increase means that my paycheck doesn't continue to take some painful hits, I'm all for it. If you are a worker, surely you would also want the hits to stop aiming at YOUR paycheck as well. If increasing the sales tax means that the county can once again begin operating at the levels I believe it should, then I say by all means YES, raise it. Finally, you question why projects move forward despite hard times. Seriously?? The economy stinks...we all know that. However, becoming stagnant just makes no sense. New Hanover County still has to function, and it still has to move forward. We've seen hard times before...they all eventually came to an end. This one will also pass. I think it will be far easier to win the race if we continue moving forward, albeit slower, than it would be to win if coming from a deep sleep.
As a lifetime county resident, I would not mind helping the county to generate additional money, if they could prove that it will be used properly. However, the county, state, and federal governments have proven for some time now that they cannot seem to do what you and I do every day: balance a budget and learn to live on less. Its spend, spend , spend at the taxpayers expense. I do not wish for anyone's pay to be cut, nor for anyone to lose their job. But I think we both know that governkment spending has gotten totally out of control and I for one am tired of it. So until they learn that i am not their own personal piggy bank, I for one will not be voting for an increase in taxes.
These people don't budget like you and I have too. They just reach in and take what they want and call it for our own good. At all levels, taxes are going through the roof. We are being treated as powerless peasants by government and I wouldn't trust Jason Thompson in an outhouse with a muzzle on.