Cary News: Opinion

Cary’s tax twist

Cary’s tax twist

So there’s the parting of the Red Sea. The Miracle Mets. Something about a Republican getting elected governor of North Carolina. And a really wild one about the GOP taking over the North Carolina General Assembly.

But this ... this one really sounds like a whopper. But it’s not.

Cary Town Manager Ben Shivar proposed that the town’s spending plan for 2015-2016 include a 3-cent per $100 of property value tax increase.

Made perfect sense in this growing, modern, well-kept community that’s a long way from the relative handful of residents it had years ago but within the lifetimes of many residents in these parts. Yes, they remember when Cary seemed a distant and quaint outpost instead of the six-figure population it is today with more amenities than a deluxe cabin on a cruise ship.

To boot, the town has the lowest property tax rate, at 35 cents per $100 valuation, of any place in Wake County. A 3-cent boost thus seemed entirely reasonable in a place where except to repay voter-approved debt, the rate hadn’t gone up in 25 years.

But at a council work session June 11, Shivar announced that the rate boost was going to be 2 cents instead of 3, because of an unexpected increase in electricity sales tax revenues.

Cary’s boom, and to be sure, good management, along with the civic generosity of companies such as SAS, makes it possible to keep the rate low while really getting some things done.

The council, for example, gave the go-ahead to three capital projects, including some median removal at the corner of Morrisville Parkway and Carpenter Upchurch Road.

Shivar’s being conservative, but the time’s coming, of course, when Cary and other towns may have to raise property taxes just to make up for a foolish and downright curious move on the part of Republican legislators to eliminate a privilege tax, levied by cities to help with infrastructure. The tax was modest for businesses, who did after all benefit from what cities did with the money. Unfortunately, GOP legislators made an ill-advised choice based on a blanket anti-tax bias and a bit of antagonism from some toward cities, where Democrats tend to be more powerful.

For now, though, the manager gave his council a little good news, and that’s fine. Who can’t use some of that now and then?

Originally published June 15, 2015 in The News & Observer