Proposal to change revenue distribution method fails

Published 7:16 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A move to change how Beaufort County distributes sales-tax revenue generated in the county failed after a vote by the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Commissioner Hood Richardson made a motion to “divide the sales-tax money in a manner that is most advantageous to Beaufort County.” Commissioner Stan Deatherage seconded his motion.

“I believe we would net out something like $700,000 or $800,000 of money that we are now subsidizing these towns and cities with,” Richardson said.

Deatherage said the switch would put the money in the county’s “coffers and out of the coffers of more-inefficient governments.”

He continued, “Let’s face it. City governments, by their nature, are extremely inefficient. Look at Washington. They have never found a grant they could not turn down.”

The motion failed when commissioners Jerry Langley, Al Klemm, Ed Booth, Gary Brinn and Robert Belcher voted against it. Richardson and Deatherage voted for the measure.

Currently, the sales-tax revenue is distributed by the per-capita method, which favors the seven municipalities and the 22 fire and/or EMS service districts in the county. The ad-valorem method suggested by Richardson would favor the county.

An analysis of the two methods shows Beaufort County would gain nearly $800,000 in revenue under the ad-valorem method, with each of the municipalities losing revenue. The City of Washington would lose nearly $900,000 in revenue, with the six remaining towns losing anywhere from $27,664 (Pantego) to $204,974 (Belhaven).

“Mr. Chairman, I can’t support this. I mean cities … rely on this money … as part of their budgets. … I’m not going to vote for taking their tax revenue that they’ve been getting for years,” Booth said, adding the municipalities have been accustomed to having those revenues as part of their budgets year after year. Taking away that revenue source would be unfair to them, he said.

The proposed change could not have happened in the upcoming budget year. If a county opts to use the ad-valorem method to distribute sales-tax revenue, it must inform its municipalities by April 1 of the fiscal year before the next fiscal year begins. The county’s fiscal year begins July 1. The earliest a change in the distribution method could be made would be July 1, 2014.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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