Manager: changes will aid our city

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 07:11 PM

If tax reform proposals in Raleigh stand, Henderson will likely see some added tax revenue through better sharing by the state, according to City Manager Ray Griffin.

Henderson is among 540 towns and cities that are part of the North Carolina League of Municipalities expressing their thanks to lawmakers for listening to them on issues such as what return ratios they can expect to see on sales taxes and privilege license fees.

Griffin this week said his office would draft a proposal for a letter of thanks to legislators so it is ready as soon as possible for the signature of Mayor Pete O’Geary.

“We always coordinate our responses with what the League of Municipalities is doing,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the legislative process took a different direction on tax issues, away from a recent history of costing cities and towns millions of dollars. On the table now is tax reform that will generate additional revenue for them.

“And that is a good thing,” Griffin said.

Griffin said he understood how a large budgetary item like the tax reform package may have plenty to complain about on other points, but municipalities appear to be getting what they need.

“We know from our own experience that there’s no such thing as a perfect budget,” Griffin said. “We do want to thank legislators for their work on the budget. It is certainly important that we maintain local revenue sources.”

In written comments from leaders of the municipalities association, details emerged on how coordinated the statewide effort was by local leaders, starting March 27 with their Town Hall Day event.

Griffin said he attended an advocacy goals meeting in Raleigh as early as January. He didn’t know if any Henderson leaders made it to the Town Hall Day event or other efforts since.

O’Geary said news of a better allocation of revenues from the state brings some relief to local budgetary challenges, but not knowing about other details in the budget reforms proposed is a concern.

“I am very concerned about all of the things that have taken place in Raleigh, and I think everyone else is also since we don’t know the effect that all of it is going to have,” O’Geary said. “Sales taxes help us a lot, and cutting back would hurt any municipality. The sales taxes are very important.”

Councilwoman Sara Coffey said she had not seen specific details about the tax reform deal, but recent-year tax policies out of Raleigh have hurt Henderson’s efforts to maintain city services on limited tax resources.

“We as a group have been upset because it took money away from rural areas,” she said.

According to association leaders, 450 local officials took part on March 27, and 150 additional officials participated in District Days, an ongoing effort since then that is designed to bring small groups of mayors, elected officials and city staff to Raleigh on a repeating basis to meet with lawmakers.

Dozens more took trips to Raleigh on short notice late in the legislative season, turning the tide on numerous tax reform details that the association estimated would have cost cities and towns $164 million a year.

Paul Meyer, the director of governmental affairs for the association, included a statement of his thanks to lawmakers, pointing to the time and effort they spent with local leaders as a new sign of a new “strong working relationship” between them.

Emerald Isle Mayor Art Schools, also the board president of the League of Municipalities, indicated the extensive interactions showed lawmakers were taking municipal concerns to heart.

 

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.