The Onslow County Manager, Jeff Hudson, made his pitch for the sales-tax increase voters will see on their ballot in May. As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, he’s using the argument that county officials across North Carolina have defaulted to: please raise sales taxes so we can cut your property taxes. But Hudson’s attempt to be precise muddied the message a bit. From today’s Jacksonville Daily News story:
Hudson spent a long time answering a question whether property taxes would go up if the sales tax is voted down. After the forum, he expounded his answer to The Daily News.
“Two weeks ago the state took $105,000 meant for (Onslow County Department of) Social Services, it also mandated retirement costs of $600,000 and requires the county to fund $30,000 for the probation office,” Hudson said, adding federal cutbacks could mean another $300,000 hit to the county budget.
Hudson said he was working with county staff to develop a budget to be presented June 1. He said his intentions are to be as fiscally conservative as possible.
“Passage of the sales tax would provide Onslow County with additional resources to meet mandated and essential services,” he said, adding that there are too many unknowns to say taxes will or will not be raised in the future.
“I don’t want to give information that one unexpected bomb from Washington or Raleigh would render incorrect,” he said.
That’s precisely correct, and something Onslow voters need to remember when they hear tax supporters promise an offsetting property-tax cut. If it happens at all, it may well only be temporary.Read full article » No Comments »
Wilmington-area residents ought to look carefully at the transportation plan local officials are pitching for the next quarter-century — because taxpayers are going to have to shell out far more than a few quarters to pay for it all.
According to the StarNews coverage, the plan lists $2.1 billion in projects in New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties to be completed over the next 25 years. They include some obvious needs such as extensions of Military Cutoff and Hwy. 17 bypass and some not-so-obvious wants such as express bus service. The plan’s proponents also envision a new slate of taxes and fees to pay for much of this.
I’ll recommend some additional reading to Wilmington-area residents seeking to interpret the plan in light of practical realities. First, check out transportation guru David Hartgen’s recent work for JLF on how best to set priorities to reduce Wilmington’s traffic congestion. Here’s a key bit:
Hartgen’s report offers nearly 20 recommendations for the state and many targeted recommendations for the Wilmington and Jacksonville regions. Wilmington proposes to spend $1.38 billion over 25 years; 13 percent would be for transit service. Transit serves only 0.9 percent of the region’s commuters. Wilmington recommendations include: increasing the mix of projects on the arterial system; moving up the signal optimization program; conducting a bottleneck analysis; and considering reversible lanes or shoulder use.
Second, check out JLF Research Director Michael Sanera’s latest report, a guide to interpreting the planner-speak that you so often here from local officials when they’re talking transportation.Read full article » No Comments »
The John Locke Foundation has just published another edition of its By The Numbers report on the cost of local government in North Carolina. In total taxes and fees collected per capita, Wilmington maintained its ranking of 5th among the state’s 32 largest municipalities with a price tag of $2,125 per person. Here are some of the other key findings of the report, which is based on data from the most recent fiscal year available, 2008:
Among North Carolina’s 87 ranked medium-sized municipalities, three Southeastern communities had rates of local revenues per person substantially higher than the state median: Carolina Beach ($2,689), Oak Island ($2,647), and Leland ($1,934). Other municipalities were closer to the median, including Whiteville ($1,616) and Lumberton ($1,456).
Brunswick County (8.23 percent) had the state’s second-highest tax burden when that burden was calculated as local taxes and fees as a share of personal income. New Hanover (6.10 percent) ranked No. 7. Pender (5.11 percent) ranked No. 27. Columbus (4.08 percent) ranked No. 74, while Onslow County (2.92 percent) ranked No. 98.
You can read the full By The Numbers report online.Read full article » 1 Comment »
Based on what the Raleigh News & Observer‘s is reporting on its Under the Dome blog, it looks like New Hanover District Attorney Ben David is now conducting a criminal investigation in what was originally a State Board of Elections probe of $48,000 in contributions to Beverly Perdue’s gubernatorial candidate from people connected to Rusty Carter. The allegation is that Carter reimbursed all or some of these donors, which is a no-no under state campaign-finance law.Read full article » 1 Comment »
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre not only voted against ObamaCare both times it came to the House floor, but he also supports efforts to repeal the legislation next year and to pursue litigation in the federal courts to strike down the health-insurance mandate as unconstitutional. From the WECT coverage:
“If we had the opportunity to vote on it, I would. But I don’t think the votes are there right now. So now (the) question is, it’ll have to be addressed by the judicial branch,” Congressman McIntyre said.
McIntyre says he supports the Attorneys General across the country who are considering filing a lawsuit to stop the legislation. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has not joined that effort.
McIntyre is hardly alone. Most Americans want to see ObamaCare repealed, as well, and support the constitutional challenge. So do the nearly 15,000 fans of the “I Will Not Comply” Facebook page, who’ve been reading my own writings on the subject of repealing ObamaCare.Read full article » No Comments »
Government has dramatically expanded from the proper role as protector of citizen rights to undertakings beyond its scope; those involving complications and risk: defined as “enterprise.”
Wilmington, for example, has a deputy city manager in charge of “community services,” including a department for “Parks, Recreation and Downtown.” This department oversees seven “enterprise funds,” including a “Golf Course Fund.” The “fund” maintains greens and facilities and manages retail operations, according to the city website.
Voters have slept through decades while politicians pushed the limits of growing government to feather their political nests. They use sounds-good, but deceptive language to further their pet projects. For example, the “City Focus Area” for community services promises “clean, safe, attractive, diverse and convenient neighborhoods”—only individual citizens making their own best-interest decisions can accomplish these ends.
The parks and recreation department presumptuously announces a goal: “to preserve the municipal golf course and provide excellence in public service.” Government provides only basic, not excellent service. But a more fundamental point here rests on the question: Why does city government offer service provided better by the private sector?
Answer: It shouldn’t.
A parks department objective strives for 55,000 golf rounds per year. Revenue returns $22.00 per round; the cost to taxpayers is $20.00. A favored few golfers get a good deal, the taxpayers get a raw one. In addition, local private golf businesses must compete with unfairly subsidized golf.
In the city’s FY 2009-2010 Adopted Budget $1.1 million will be spent on the municipal golf course–$529,000 of that on salaries and benefits for nine employees.
It’s time for voters to demand that city council candidates promise to divest the taxpayers of a golf course enterprise.Read full article » No Comments »
Reacting to an industry study out last week that urged North Carolina to spend $65 billion more on transportation over the next 20 years, the Jacksonville Daily News tosses a bucket of cold water on the idea of raising taxes again to finance the “trust” fund:
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The truth is that the state plundered that fund and now, with a fiscal Armageddon looming on the horizon, many of the same people who helped vote in that tax increase, then participated in its misuse, are talking about raising taxes on a constituency that is bruised and broken. And that is the dare part of this equation, as in “How dare they?”
This is precisely what North Carolina taxpayers need to ask their elected officials and the hopefuls running for their jobs in the next few months.
This StarNews headline caught my eye this morning:
Fugitive found in Wilmington says he got caught for being stupid
But I’ve skipped reading the article for now, because I’m researching an article on the ObamaCare vote and quickly realized that the man in question couldn’t be a member of Congress. They rarely get caught.Read full article » No Comments »
We are “shortsighted” and ill-tempered persons full of resentment and stubborn notions, according to an editorial in the Wilmington Star-News. I hate being a curmudgeon: always out of sorts and resentful. I’m stubborn, too.
I stick to my principles. Editors say we curmudgeons “dismiss buying park land as foolish spending.” In defense of curmudgeonry, I repeat: buying more park land is not only wasteful; it’s profligate, uneconomical, inefficient, extravagant, lavish, excessive, imprudent, and maybe even intemperate. Got that?
And another thing; the city council is a bunch of spendthrifts. They needlessly spend on property useless to the majority of city residents. Furthermore, after the initial purchase more money must be spent to add improvements and accoutrements (For example, “Fencing or shrubbery and trees separating private land from public could reduce potential conflicts with neighbors,” counsels the editor.) In addition, maintenance will require more government employees and equipment (I’m looking at the long view of the council’s shortsightedness, Ms. Editor). Remember the green elephant Airlie Gardens costing millions and usurping more each year for the benefit of very few people?
Worse, this latest imprudence puts the city deeper into competing unfairly with private golf businesses. It will add another subsidy for a special few at the expense of the whole population. There’s a principle here, expressed by curmudgeon Dr. Michael Sanera of the John Locke Foundation (www.JohnLocke.org) in a 2009 City and County Issue Guide. Public parks and recreation departments “should not compete with services provided by the private sector.”
Call me resentful, ill-tempered or even stubborn. Yes, I resent government officials arrogantly spending our money on projects they, their bureaucrats and a few selfish interest groups decide meet our “quality of life.” Government’s role is to protect citizens, not to patronize them. Damn right this attitude angers me; as it should all free-thinking people—and I won’t give up criticizing it.Read full article » 1 Comment »
The problems with an accidental fire at the Corning plant this past week were bad enough. Quick response from Corning’s firefighters kept the fire contained and out in 2 hours. However, 150 evacuated employees cut into production and the damage will probably be costly.
Corning officials didn’t need the N. C. Department of Labor to come snooping around with no reason to suspect anything. Still, they were gracious to the meddlers who “launched an investigation.”
Another example of too much government in our lives and how it imposes inconveniences and additional costs on all of us.Read full article » No Comments »