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You are here: home > opinion > in my opinion

1% Transfer Tax looks like the best solution

By John Bonitz
Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2005

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Dear Neighbors,

Well, I think we've all heard enough to agree that we have a problem: Our county has run out of money to meet the needs of us citizens: Our schools have to go begging to get bonds passed to borrow money to build new buildings (just to meet demand) and we're still unable to maintain the existing buildings. Our sheriff tells a tale of woe about how pretty-soon he won't have enough deputies to police all the new roads, neighborhoods, and businesses that are being built. The problems just go on and on.

We're growing fast: Today we've got more than 9000 new houses either under construction, in the works, or under proposal. That could bring us more new neighbors than the towns of Siler and Pittsboro combined! Imagine how much demand on public services all those people will bring.

So what do we do about it?

Nobody seems to want their property taxes raised anymore. Seems like most of us already feel those taxes are already too high. Even my most generous, civic minded neighbors -- the kind of folks who pay their tax bills with a smile on their faces -- agree that they're getting squeezed.

And the impact fees we're currently charging for new houses don't seem to be paying their way, according to what I'm hearing. It's a one time fee, and in the life of a school building, dozens of families might buy and sell and live in each house.

How 'bout cutting spending, you say? Well, some of our sharpest fiscal conservatives have been watching the purse-strings in recent
years... Thanks especially to the hawk-eyes of Commissioner Bunkey Morgan and the good people of F.A.C.T., I think the worst of the waste has been identified and cut. (I found it especially interesting that the recent effort to privatize our county solid waste programs came back clearly showing that our publicly run systems were a real bargain.) So we're not gonna be able to "slash and cut" our way out of this revenue shortfall.

To my mind the best solution seems to be the 1% Transfer Tax. It seems fair because the bigger the house you buy, the higher the tax you pay. Likewise, if you can only afford a small house, your 1% transfer tax is a pretty small price to pay.

I learned quite a bit about this by reading here: http://cross4chatham.blogspot.com/2005/04/growth-taxes-vs-1-land-transfer-tax.html

Then I read some of the arguments against the transfer tax, here: http://www.realtor.org/libweb.nsf/pages/fg717#topicc

It's a complicated issue, but the money has to come from somewhere. And it'd be a lot worse for every property owner to have to pay a
higher tax every year. So I'd prefer that we ask ourselves, as community minded citizens, to pony-up each time we make a major purchase: You buy a house, you pay 1% to help with law-enforcement, public education, public health, etc. You buy a piece of land, your 1% tax goes to support new teachers, new schools and new sheriff's deputies to match the growth of our population.

It seems only fair to me.

 
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