Cary News: Opinion

Dick Sears: No secret about possible tax hike

No secret about possible tax hike

In the Sunday, June 17, edition of the Southwest Wake News, local resident Vinnie DeBenedetto wrote that “what is troublesome to me is the manner in which some council members and the mayor gave the appearance of ‘bait and switch’ tactics” as it relates to the possible tax increase relating to the Nov. 8 Park and Recreation Bond Referendum, and that there was “poor communications on the part of the Town Council to the public.” That is just not true.

We have been told by a few citizens that they knew nothing about a possible tax increase. For those who truly still feel that way, we apologize. For those like DeBenedetto, he knows better. Let me explain.

From June 21 to Oct. 31, 2011, there were 14 different events printed in the “Your Path, Your Parks, Your Vote” that related to the Bond Referendum. These included meetings, public hearings (and) the State of the Town. Two postcards were even mailed to all residents in Holly Springs.

In that same period, support from the Chamber indicated that “Vote Yes – Holly Springs Parks & Rec BondAffordable – $6.85/month, Based on the 2010 median home price of $235,000.” It also appeared on their banners of support.

As it relates to newspaper coverage, The Southwest Wake News printed information relating to a possible tax increase on Aug. 9, 2011, which related to our Aug. 6 Town Board Meeting and headlined that “Bonds could prompt property tax hike.” Later (the newspaper) referenced the Sept. 12 Parks and Rec. public meeting at the Cultural Arts Center, that Vinnie DeBenedetto spoke at and questioned whether the town needed more fields. Also included was the statement that “Town staff estimate that Holly Springs would have to raise property tax rates by up to 5 pay off the debt” (up to 20 million dollars).

Further Southwest Wake News coverage specifically on this subject also appeared on Sept. 10 and on Oct. 29, 2011.

On Feb. 29, 2012, the Holly Springs Sun reported that “if all $20 million in bond proceeds were borrowed today, $.05 would need to be added to the current tax rate.”

In addition, our Town website spoke of a possible 3.5 cent increase in property taxes.

In summary, I would hope this answers the question of transparency and our desire to inform all parties concerned about the possible tax increase of as it relates now – 2 cents per hundred.

(The tax increase) will be voted on by the Council on June 29. Our challenge is always what is in the best interests of the whole town and its future. This vote does not apply to the already approved operating budget that is balanced and does not require a tax increase. This issue is totally Park and Rec. The bond passed 1499 to 1035, and I have faith that most who voted either way were informed on the implications of the referendum.

Mayor Dick Sears

Holly Springs

The length limit was waived.