Under the Dome

A small town mayor’s take on NC legislative issues

The debates in the N.C. General Assembly look a little different to Hookerton Mayor Bobby Taylor.

Hookerton is a town of 400 people in Greene County, about 80 miles east of Raleigh. It has no stoplight, no grocery store and no restaurant, and leaders were thrilled when a Family Dollar store opened there last week.

The News & Observer visited Hookerton and spoke with Taylor for a story about a possible change in how the state distributes sales tax revenue.

We asked Taylor about two of the other hot topics of the legislative session.

On jobs incentives: Taylor says it’s unlikely that any incentive package from the One North Carolina fund or JDIG program would bring jobs to Hookerton. The town doesn’t have the infrastructure for companies with hundreds of jobs – the typical target for incentives.

Taylor wants to lure businesses that would employ 10 to 15 people. State commerce officials aren’t likely to help, he says. “That’s small fish, they let it go along down the creek by itself,” he said.

But Taylor recognizes his town could see benefits from big employers down the road in Kinston. “We’re 15 minutes away” and could attract a business tied to Kinston’s economy, he said.

On historic preservation tax credits: Gov. Pat McCrory has been pushing to reinstate tax credits for historic preservation projects, a program he says creates jobs in towns large and small.

But state records show only one project in Greene County has used the credits. Taylor points out that modern additions like vinyl siding would disqualify a project for the tax credit, and many local developers wouldn’t want the extra expenses of a historically accurate renovation.