December 30, 2014

Services & Taxpayer Money

Hope Porter published an opinion in last week’s paper taking exception to taxpayers' funding services for the Service Districts stating “…neither the county government nor the taxpayers, who would foot the bill, have ever contemplated such a stupid thing”.

Within the 1992-2010 Comprehensive Plan on-line document is the statement — This goal was revised to express the commitment to provide public facilities and utilities through public and private cooperation in only those areas presently being served by utilities. This differed from the 1987-1997 version which gave priority to "extending water and sewer to those Service Districts presently without such services."

It would appear that the people’s representatives on the Board of Supervisors not only “contemplated such a stupid thing”, they even incorporated changes in the 1992-2010 Comprehensive Plan that state the same objective Ms. Porter is criticizing the BoS of not embracing.

Ms. Porter went on to say “… the taxes from the business never equal or exceed the cost of the services (mostly for schools) that the county must provide for the people.” I know of no businesses that require public education of their owners or employees. That is a requirement that comes with households coming to the county, not businesses.

It is a fairly straightforward process to determine the relative cost versus benefit of a business starting up in the county. Their business plan would identify the cost of the buildings and assets which can be used to estimate taxes and fees they will pay. Their business plan would also project annual sales that could be used to project sales taxes to be paid. By subtracting the cost of all infrastructure changes required to support the business that are not covered by proffers, from the sum of taxes and fees the business pays, one can estimate whether taxpayers win or lose.

I will use as an example the rezoning in Morrisville to accommodate a Dollar General retail store that requires no additional services from the county. The average Dollar General store has annual sales around $1.5M. If the incoming store meets that average, it would generate about $80,000 in annual sales taxes, some of which would have been paid outside the county without a store being conveniently local. The store’s business license would cost about $1,500 annually and the real estate assessment would likely generate about $10,000 in taxes. Of course some of the annual $91,500 in taxes & fees go to the State before a portion is returned to the county.

The county’s Comprehensive Plan was first adopted some 47 years ago and is made up of hundreds of pages of details defining goals and objectives to guide how our county will grow to the benefit of us all. Growth is inevitable so the need for strategic planning is essential.

Sharing information and opinions with the people on the BoS is critical if we want to keep our county as a great place to live and raise families. And it is incumbent on the members of the BoS to carefully consider all provided information and opinions. However, personal attacks on those who do not share one's opinion in place of reasoned debate are not only foolish, they are counter-productive.

Rex A. Hoover