01/24/05 — Group says Wayne residents get off light on taxes

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Group says Wayne residents get off light on taxes

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on January 24, 2005 2:00 PM

Goldsboro residents pay some of the lowest local taxes and fees of any in North Carolina's largest cities, a new report says.

Wayne County also charges its residents less than average, according to "By the Numbers 2005: What Government Costs in North Carolina Cities and Counties."

Goldsboro residents paid an average of $1,053 in taxes and fees in 2003, the latest data used in the report. (Wayne County raised taxes in 2004). That ranked 24th among the state's 25 cities with populations of 25,000 or more.

On average, Wayne residents paid $895 in property taxes and fees. That ranked 72nd among the state's 100 counties.

For seven years, the Raleigh-based Center for Local Innovation, a division of the John Locke Foundation, has ranked local tax burdens in the "By the Numbers" reports. The latest report was just issued.

Goldsboro and Wayne County have consistently ranked as bargains, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base deserves some of the credit, said Chad Adams, director of the Center for Local Innovation.

"The base gives your economy a lot more stability," Adams said today in a telephone interview.

Other communities have had to raise taxes and fees as they've had mills or other major employers close, he said. But areas with military bases have been better able to resist increases.

"If any of the state's military bases was to close, it would be major devastation," he said.

Charlotte residents paid an average of $2,132 in 2003, ranking it No. 1 among the state's major cities for the fourth year in a row.

Wilmington, Durham, Asheville, Hickory, and Chapel Hill rounded out the top six in combined city and county costs per person out of 25 municipalities with at least 25,000 residents.

Jacksonville was the only major city with a lower tax burden than Goldsboro.

Local tax and fee collections in the median North Carolina county stood at about $1,047 per resident in 2003. That was up from $993 in 2002 and $938 in 2001.

Coastal Dare County was the most expensive, with an average charge of $3,541 per resident. Madison County, on the Tennessee line, was the cheapest with an average of $637.

The report uses data from the State Treasurer, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to construct rankings of local government cost on a per-person basis -- as well as, for counties, a share-of-income basis.

The entire report can be viewed at www.johnlocke.org.