Letters to the Editor, June 5

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 01:55 PM

Control county, city taxes

The county manager wants another large county property tax increase two years running.  This 3.5 percent increase beats the inflation rate and would grab a bigger part of average family pay.

The manager cites a benchmark study comparing pay for employees in various counties.  Since he brought this up, the county should also benchmark Durham County property tax rates with other North Carolina counties.   Although the current property tax rate is slightly lower (at .7444) than some counties, such as Guilford (Greensboro), Mecklenburg (Charlotte) and Orange (Chapel Hill), the Durham rate is above Forsythe (Winston-Salem), and much higher than Wake (.5340) and Chatham (.6219) and other counties.  The combined Durham city/county rate is near the state top.

Increased debt and interest have come from spending $119 million on a new courthouse in addition to other projects  -- schools, new health and human services building and libraries.  Fine projects, but we should space these out more, and not try to do too much at once, excessively driving up taxes. 

I urge the county government to find out where Durham County stands relative to other North Carolina counties in tax rate, and to embark on a plan to bring this burden more into line with other counties.  Durham City should also benchmark its property tax rate with other North Carolina cities and set out similarly to control city taxes toward the middle of the pack. 

The public should be informed of the outcome to benchmarking.

Rod Gerwe