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Two cents on the sales tax increase

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County is facing a budget deficit of more than $13 million. Commissioners say they have to come up with the money somehow. Before voting on a proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase, some residents wanted their questions answered.

"I think everybody in this room probably knows that the expenditures are higher than the revenues at this time," Commission chair Jason Thompson said during a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Cape Fear Musuem.

Commissioners are going to have to cut services or raise taxes to balance this year's budget. With the quarter-cent sales tax increase on the Tuesday's ballot, residents tried to get a little more clarity.

"If we can alter some of those levels of service that we are mandated to provide, does that not free up some money for some other things that can be used for non-mandated expenses?" asked Owen Wexler.

Commissioner Bill Caster responded, "There are extra teachers and extra staff and all things like that, so it's not like they're not useful and needed, but there's an example of where we've gone beyond the mandate."

"We're becoming a metro shopping area for folks from Brunswick and probably all the way up to Kenansville," pointed out county resident Don Adkins. "And I don't know if folks realize how much money comes from outside our residents."

Commissioner Bobby Greer replied, "That is a tremendous benefit, and in my opinion, I'd rather have the folks from outside our county help pay our bills, not just those of us that live here."

Even if voters approve the sales tax, there's a chance commissioners would still raise property taxes to avoid service cuts.

"If I were running a business, I would make a goal and say what's going to accomplish the job? So why didn't we go for a half a cent?" asked resident Jack Mills.

"State dictates what we can ask for, which is a quarter cent," answered Thompson. "If it were up to me I'd probably ask for about four or five cents, and then I'd drop four cents off the property tax rate."

One county resident asked the commissioners how they would vote on the sales tax. Commissioner Bill Caster was the only one who said he would vote against it.

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Employee

As a county employee let me break it down for you:
1. No raise in 3 years
2. Pay cut by 2% (40 hours) in fiscal year 08/09
3. Salary cut by 80 hours (4%) in FY 09/10 Because of the FY break down, I will lose 3 weeks of pay in 2010 alone.
4. Most NHC Employees make less than $40K a year.
5. Leave accrual has been taken away. (at least you are still getting your 2 days)
6. Cost of the health benefits increased to keep the same coverage.
7. Holiday closing help save county/state money. We are not the Fed gov't so what holiday are we getting that isn't a real holiday?

Don't post comments about things you really do not have a clue on. Last time I checked, $37K a year is not enough to live on in NHC. The sales tax also helps pay for some of your Police, Fire/Rescue services which are very important & are also being cut, so it isn't just a few parks & libraries. The county employees are also responsible for the disaster relief, lets hope that we don't have a Hurricane this season. But hey, we'll remember your comments about our "cushy" jobs when you've been forced to a shelter that we are required to man during storms. Oh, last time I checked, working for the Sheriff's Dept, Social Services, the Health Dept & Waste Management were not the easiest jobs or "cushy" jobs as some of you put it. Those are all county funded Depts. Let me see you work in the middle of trash/sewer all day, or pull all night shifts to keep the community safe. Let's see you deal with sick children/elderly or with the disadvantaged residents of NHC on a daily basis. What comments would you make if you were on this side of the fence. We are not out begging for your money. We are not the reason the county is in it's budget situation. If anything it is YOU that forced the county into it's budget issues as residents demanding services. I really think you need to do some research on what your resident County is actually responsible for that does AFFECT your daily life before making blind comments.

It's just a quarter of a penny.

At a quarter of a cent tax hike, if you annually bought $10,000 worth of taxable goods, then you would be out $25 or a little over $2 a month. (the average family of 4 spends $3420 annually on groceries)

The visitors to our county would help to pay this proposed increase, whereas if they raise the property tax, only property owners would pay.

I would be objectionable to a large increase in taxes, but is a quarter of a cent really going to be noticeable? If it doesn't pass, the loss of some services will be as well as the property tax bill.

Fighting over a quarter of a cent is not a worthy battle to be fought. Even worse is spending money on yard signs to oppose having to spend money.

I completely agree with

I completely agree with you....this sales tax will be spread out to everyone who visits the area and the increase is very minimal. I think the sales tax is a great idea

OK

Its 25 bucks here, 25 bucks there, 30% rise in Home Owners Insurance, 30% rise in Health Insurance...you see where I am going with this....it isn't JUST a few cents...those cents add up to LOTS of money....

Second....the rate we are at RIGHT NOW was supposed to be TEMPORARY, but the knuckleheads got GREEDY when they saw the cash. We need to back our taxes BACK DOWN...and hold our elected leadership...the ones that WORK FOR US to a balanced budget based on what they take in...it's what EVERY ONE OF US are expected to do....

No more

They will raise property tax if the sales tax is passed or not. They will claim it isn't bringing in as much money as they thought it would. The leaders have proven they can't responsibly spend what we currently give them, why should we give them even more? Don’t re-elect anybody.

I agree with guesty fully.

I agree with guesty fully. Try telling a retailer that relies on the tourists traveling to a tourist destination after a bad 2 years of business that this add'l sales tax is good for business. With a convention center that cost us millions...will conventioneers like to have an 8% sales tax tacked on to everything?

No Nonsense on this One

If the sales tax bill does not pass you can expect two things:

1. The property tax will be raised.
If you want tourists and visitors to help foot the bill vote for the sales tax. The property tax will rise this year how much depends on the sales tax passing. There will be increased taxes this year, homeowners will foot the bill if the sales tax fails.

2. Massive public closures.
Beyond property tax raises the county will make the cuts in the most visible ways possible. It is becoming more and more obvious that the three library branches (not the main branch), the museum, and all the parks - especially Airlie are going to bear the brunt of closures and layoffs. They will make the closures as publicly seen and felt as they can.

County employees are already furloughing 80 hours a year or giving up ~4% of their salary. There are no possible raise considerations and personal time accrual is down to roughly 5 days a year. They're stretched thing, doing more work with less people already. The only thing more that can be done to cut costs is to eliminate services and the county has said it will be the ones the public feels most of all.

More Taxes

"Massive public closings," huh? A few branch libraries and parks closed. Non-essential things.

Look, everyone has had to make sacrifices in their personal quality of life. We don't eat out as often, don't buy top-shelf brands and are always looking for ways to do more with less. We've learned to separate our wants from our needs and it's time the county commission did the same. Airlie Garden absolutely does NOT need to be open every day of the week. Parks and ball fields absolutely do NOT need to be lit at taxpayer expense. Let the users pay for lighting. There are numerous opportunities for the county to cut expenses but for some reason, Jason Thompson thinks we need to continue to have a "world class" garden and not impact the quality of life in any way.

Well, my quality of life has already been impacted. I used to travel on "world class" vacations, eat in "world class" restaurants and own " world class" cars. But not any more. I've learned to live on much less. The county can and should do the same.

There seems to be a huge disconnect between the county commission and county residents.

I don't know of any county

I don't know of any county employee that is giving up 80 hours a year. Lets not exaggerate the truth...and for the money that they make, not to mention the great benefits they receive...give me a break. My sister works for the county and it is told that this is an over exaggeration, not to mention, it won't get them out of debt...besides, there is always brunswick and pender counties...I don't mind driving a little to save a little..and keep it out of the politicians hands.

County employees are taking

County employees are taking 80hrs of furlough. That is not an exaggeration in the slightest. They are actually very strick on it. So either your sister is lieing to you or you don't do a very good job of listening. As far as pay goes, $32,000 is not a whole lot of money

Really?

It's time for all of this to stop. No more tax increases...no more permanent cushy government jobs, no more over-milking the cow for things & projects that are not necessary. The cow is dried up. EVERYONE needs to suck it up like the normal folk do now. If these are elected officials, I personally am watching to see who to vote out of office this year. Not only on this topic, but the whole system. The only way things are going to change is if WE hit them in the pocketbook, like they have hit us. Don't whine,,,,show them you are serious. Please!!!!

sales tax increase

Wow, those poor, poor county employees, who's jobs are safe and we all know it. I haven't had a raise in 3 years, and only receive 2 personal days per year. That is how small businesses have cut back to compensate for the tax increases and poor economy. Non governmental businesses' employees are hurting way more than any governmental employee (local, state, fed).
Our property taxes wil increase regardless of the passing of the sales tax increase.
Have these commissioners not been paying attention for the last several years. We did not get into this debt overnight. I'm sure there are items that can be cut that the public won't feel as much as possible. Talk about turning the knife once we've been stuck. I feel this is quite a bully tactic, in the words of the head bully himself.

You are correct

Property taxes will go up regardless...so plan on that. As for county workers...sorry, I cry no real tears for you. You get more than two personal days off a year, you get holiday after holiday off...even ones that are not even real holidays, and you get benefits out the ying yang. I have a relative that works for the county so sorry..don't try to pull the wool over everyones eyes. We as North Carolina and New Hanover County residents have to live within our budgeted means, and if that means doing without, we just do without. Why can't the county and state do the same. Quit taxing us to death so we can live indoors too.

Obviously you aren't keeping

Obviously you aren't keeping up with whats going on within the County Government. Not all employees get personal time. Those that have been there for over 5 years are getting about 1hr per 2 weeks of pay. Thats not a lot of vacation time built up. As far as holiday vacations, they get the main ones off and that's about it

Irresponsible

I've been around long enough to understand how this all works. We hardworking, blue collar tax payers continue to have to pay the price and foot the bill because the elected officials overspend and cannot control a budget. Why don't you chew on that one for awhile.

WooHoo

Tell it like it is...you got it going on there.

hmmm, it tastes a little

hmmm, it tastes a little like Big League Chew, Grape Flavor. Not too bad, no Jack Links Beef Jerky, but its not bad.