As Davidson struggles through another budget season, a look at a few select decisions over the past year, two occurring in the past two weeks, shows how easily snap decisions add up to ongoing costs that add pennies to our highest-in-the-area tax rate.
The immediate response to the above statement will be...
"But Davidson is special, and we should be willing to pay more."
In my opinion, that completely misses the point. There's a huge difference in being "willing" to pay more because you love living in a place and "having" to pay more because of decisions that provide little value to the average citizen.
Here are three recent examples of Town decisions that will regularly add nearly a full cent to the property tax bills of all residents.
1. Abersham - $25,000 annual maintenance cost, new in the 2012-2013 budget.
- In November 2011, Mecklenburg County purchased the bankrupt Abersham development creating a large contiguous open space area with Davidson's neighboring Fisher Farm Park. New in this year's budget is a line item for $25k in annual maintenance. When many in Town were singing the praises of the County for making this purchase, there was no mention of an ongoing cost to the Town. Apparently, there was.
2. CHS Mental Health Facility - estimated $57,000 in Town services costs not covered by CHS as a tax exempt facility.
- Admittedly, this is an estimate. However, this estimate is based on known numbers. The CHS facility is a proposed $36,000,000 project. At the Town's 35c/$100 value tax rate, this would be $126,000 in exempt taxes. From work done in assessing the Red Line, it has been stated that the Towns need about 45c per dollar collected to service "commercial" property. It was stated at Tuesday night's Board meeting that CHS does not typically make payments in lieu of taxes, so this is costs paid by the taxpayers in town with no chance of recouping these unless massive taxpaying development occurs as a result of this.
3. Full-Time Information Office - $50,000 salary + benefits. Fully loaded cost estimated at $75,000.
- With the sudden departure of the Town's previous information officer this past Friday, there was an opportunity to see if the Town could get by without a full-time position. With all the recent technology improvements this could have been possible. However, by the end of Monday the position had been filled. Not even a single business day went by. The Board was not given the opportunity to provide input on the possibility if it was even considered.
Together these add up to $157,000. A full cent on your Davidson tax bill equals $161,000 in revenue to the Town. Next time you hit a pot hole, or come to the end of a sidewalk, or hear that our Police and Fire departments have needs but there isn't any money to fix the problem, ask yourself which is more important. Decisions like the ones mentioned here are the reason.