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Washington County officials supporting a land-transfer tax

By Staff
Additional revenue would help county, says county manager
By CHRISTINA HALE
Staff Writer
ROPER — Washington County Manager David Peoples said Monday that implementing a land-transfer tax is the best way for the county to pay for needed improvements that would draw people to the county.
The alternative, he said, is to increase county revenues by annually increasing the county’s property-tax rate, currently at 79 cents per $100 valuation.
Peoples and Commissioner Billy Corey, chairman of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, have organized several public presentations, one of which was given Monday night at the Windows on the World building in Roper.
Residents will be able to vote for or against the tax in the Nov. 6 election.
Corey believes the land-transfer tax is a good tax.
Before the presentation Monday night, Corey said, “If you don’t see that this will save you money in the end, I will pay the difference.”
In 2006, Washington County had the second-highest tax rate in the state at $1.50 per $100 valuation. The current tax rate of 79 cents per $100 valuation still puts Washington County in the top 20 percent of property-tax rates in North Carolina. The state average is 65 cents per $100 valuation, Peoples said.
A land-transfer tax is a tax that is levied when a piece of property is sold.
Revenue generated from a land-transfer tax would help pay for the increasing costs in law enforcement, school, emergency and health services the county provides, Peoples said.
The land-transfer tax is 1 percent of the selling price. If a property sells for $85,000, the seller would have to pay $850.
Peoples said the average price for a piece of property in Washington County is $89,000. The state average is $129,000, he said.
He said the additional revenue generated by a land-transfer tax could pay for an industrial park that would help provide jobs in the county.
Peoples talked about six other counties in North Carolina that implemented land-transfer taxes and experienced a decrease in their property-tax rates.
There are exceptions to who is required pay a land-transfer tax.
Other exceptions include land that’s a gift, donated or given to someone by way of a will.
The disadvantages of the land-transfer tax are that revenue generated by it can fluctuate and adds costs to the sales of properties, but the tax is tax-deducible, Corey said.
Another public presentation on the land-transfer tax will be given at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Center on East Water Street in Plymouth.