Republican Sen. Chad Barefoot visited Knightdale last week for a meeting he rescheduled from earlier in the year to discuss constituents’ concerns during this year’s General Assembly session.
Barefoot, the youngest member of the North Carolina Senate and in his first term as an elected state official, visited with Knightdale Chamber members to speak to some of the members’ concerns, including the recent announcement of localities losing their privilege taxes and bills that would take power away from local governments.
A bill pushed through the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory at the end of last month changes the way localities can handle privilege licenses and taxes, payments required for local businesses to operate.
The bill, House Bill 1050, completely repeals the tax for the 2015 fiscal year.
Councilman Randy Young is an insurance agent in town and said as a business owner, the repeal is a good thing, but as a resident of Knightdale he is worried how it will reflect in other taxes, specifically the property tax.
“I would hope your property tax won’t go up,” Barefoot said.
Knightdale has not made any moves to increase its property tax in its proposed budget. .
Barefoot said he is not sure how the government will make up for the money localities lose, which was a promise made by Gov. McCrory when he signed the bill.
He said he suspects most towns will be OK, since privilege taxes aren’t normally a huge source of revenue for towns.
According to Finance Director Jimmy Overton, Knightdale receives about $87,500 from privilege taxes. It is less than 1 percent of the town’s budget
“This is not a budget cut,” Barefoot said. “(It’s a) growth cut.”
He did point out, though, that some thriving towns, like Apex, never charged privilege taxes and still managed to function.
And in the more rural areas of his district, like Franklin County, privilege taxes were low in an effort to attract businesses.
“This particular legislature is not too fond of taxing businesses for doing their job,” he said.
Barefoot was able to quell some fears about another bill, House Bill 150, which changes the rights localities have to decide certain design standards on residential buildings.
The bill, which has ben formally opposed by all three towns in eastern Wake County, has been introduced in past sessions and did not pass.
This year, Barefoot predicted. won’t be any different. He said he doesn’t expect the bill to move.
Currently the bill is buried in the Senate Rules Committee and has not moved since May 19.