Eastern Wake: Opinion

Editorial: Moving toward a balanced ledger

Growth is painful. We get that. It can be worrisome to see the field across the street begin to sprout houses. It can be aggravating to deal with more cars and trucks than we’re used to dealing with.

But growth is the lifeblood of a healthy community. And, so it is right that Zebulon seems moving in the direction of approving two big residential developments.

In Zebulon, the justification for approval is two-fold.

First, bringing this many new homes to Zebulon means new tax revenue for the town. Commissioners can use that new revenue to pay for services and employees without having to raise taxes on all property owners.

Zebulon, in the past decade, has raised taxes significantly on two occasions – once to buy and renovate the old Wakelon School for use as town facilites and once, just this year, to provide more money for basic services that had gotten lost in the wake of the recession.

Taxpayers can withstand tax increases from time to time – even big ones – if they agree with the reason behind it. But endless tax increases won’t sit well with voters. New growth reduces the pressure on commissioners to raise taxes over and over.

Secondly, and perhaps uniquely to Zebulon – the town’s tax base has, over time, gotten out of kilter. A much larger percentage of Zebulon’s tax base is made up of industrial concerns than in most other towns. While it’s nice to derive a sizeable chunk of the town’s tax money from a nameless, faceless company, it’s a dangerous line to walk, especially when the economy struggles as it did for several years following the recession.

Companies close or reduce their footprint to combat the financial pressures they face. That threatens the financial stability of the town.

But with the addition of significant tax revenue from residential growth rather than industrial or commercial concerns, Zebulon takes a step toward the kind of diversity the town’s tax base needs.

Taken together, both those arguments make a strong case for supporting new subdivisions. Even if they change the landscape in a big way.