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Land-transfer tax vote to be no later than November

By Staff
Commissioners, 4-1,support referendum
By CHRISTINA HALE
Staff Writer
PLYMOUTH — Washington County residents have until November to decide if they are for or against a proposed new land-transfer tax. The tax would be a onetime levy of 1 percent of the selling price of any piece of real estate sold in the county.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed 4 to 1 Monday night to put the land-transfer tax on the Nov. 6 ballot.
There was standing room only Monday night as residents gathered for what they thought would be a public hearing on the land-transfer tax. No hearing is scheduled, said Chairman Billy Corey.
Corey said the board would “discuss whether we want to put it on the ballot in November. … You can vote for or against it when it’s time to vote,” he said.
Many residents were misinformed about a “public hearing” through letters and advertisements from the N.C. Association of Realtors, they said. The association is against the land-transfer tax, according to its Web site.
“They’re playing hardball,” Commissioner Tracey Johnson said Monday night.
Commissioner Jean Alexander said the ultimate decision is not up to the board.
Corey said, “I want tax relief; I’ve got to support it. Listen to all the facts, see how you’re better off and vote accordingly.”
Johnson made a motion to adopt the referendum. Commissioner Raymond McCray seconded the motion.
Commissioner Bill Sexton was the only one to vote against putting the land-transfer tax on the ballot. Messages left for Sexton were not immediately returned Tuesday.
Corey said informing the public about the land-transfer tax will start today and will “heat up more and more the closer we get to the election.”
Information about the land transfer tax, prepared by Market Force Inc., will be mailed to county residents before the election, according to documents presented to the board of commissioners. Preparing and mailing the information will cost about $1,700.
The county has a presentation prepared regarding the tax that can be used at various public meetings. Representatives of the county will be available to give presentations on the tax to various civic, nonprofit, faith-based and other organizations in the county. Each presentation will be made by a county commissioner and a county staff member.