Tax to land on May ballot

The Caswell County Commissioners will be adding a referendum to the May ballot asking voters to approve a new tax authorized by the North Carolina General Assembly, but FreedomWorks Foundation, a membership-based organization that organizies hundreds of thousands of volunteer grassroots activists to “fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom”, has taken up the fight against the new tax and is currently circulating a petition against it.

It began with the state’s Medicaid relief plan, which would phase out the county share of Medicaid expense over the next three years, and give approximately a half million dollars to Caswell County in Medicaid relief to cover part of the Medicaid expense which is budgeted at $1.8 million for the upcoming year.

However the state does not give without taking away.

In exchange, this year the state will hold on to 60% of the ADM monies (school capital funds) the state normally gives the county.

Counties will also lose a 1/4 of a cent of sales tax revenue this year and a 1/2-cent of sales tax revenue next year.

In order to make up that revenue, the General Assembly has authorized the counties to levy on of two new taxes, with voter approval.

The first, a .4% land transfer tax is estimated to generate nearly $190,000 while the other option, a 1/4-cent point of sale tax, is expected to generate just over $168,000.

Counties are only authorized to levy one of the two taxes and may only do so with voter approval, which requires a referendum on the ballot.

During their August 20 meeting, the board voted 4-2 to add a referendum on the taxes to the May Primary ballot. Commissioners Nate Hall and Jeremiah Jefferies were the “nay” votes. Commissioner Bill Carter was not in attendance.

“One thing’s for sure, if we don’t do either one of these, we’ll be looking at raising property taxes again next year,” stated Commissioner Hester Vernon.

Caswell County residents emphatically voiced their opposition to a land transfer tax earlier this year when commissioners considered the pros and cons of such a tax. Caswell resident Ed Carter urged county residents to speak out against a land transfer tax. Several hundred people responded to Carter’s call for action and urged the commissioners not to consider such a tax.

Allen Page, the NC Director of FreedomWorks, stated his organization was watching the issue in a number of counties across the state and assisting local citizens in the fight against a land transfer tax.

Keith Vernon, an outspoken Republican in Yanceyville, is leading the current local effort against the tax and has petitions available at his place of business, Tatum Ventures. The petition is also available online at www.freedomworks.org.

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