05/20/05 — Wayne commissioners to meet with legislators

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Wayne commissioners to meet with legislators

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 20, 2005 1:45 PM

Wayne County commissioners will join commissioners from across the state in Raleigh on Wednesday to inform legislators about the issues with which they are struggling.

The commissioners are going as part of the state Association of County Commissioners' annual County Assembly Day.

Commissioners say alternative ways to increase local revenue will be on the table when they meet with lawmakers.

On Tuesday, Wayne commissioners talked about whether they should join other counties in seeking approval of a bill that would require delinquent taxes be paid before a deed can be recorded at the courthouse. Under the provisions of the bill, the county could also approve an ordinance that wouldn't allow a building permit to be issued to a delinquent taxpayer.

Currently, only Alleghany and Ashe counties are covered by this law, but Alleghany has asked to be removed. However, Lenoir and Greene counties have asked to be included on the revised version of the bill.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said that Rep. Stephen LaRoque had asked if Wayne would like to be added to the counties included in the proposed legislation.

Wayne commissioners expressed interest in the bill but said they wanted to know why Alleghany didn't want to continue the program. Smith said he plans to find out the reason before the commissioners' next work session on Monday.

Smith said he appreciated LaRoque's remembering that tax collections are an issue in Wayne County. Smith has made tax collections a priority.

"It's something we talked about with him during our legislative breakfast," Smith said.

Another bill that commissioners plan to discuss with legislators is a land-transfer tax. If approved, the measure would give Wayne and other counties the option to charge citizens a fee for transferring land.

Smith said that the land-transfer tax is usually popular in counties where there is rapid development.

"We've been looking at ways that we can grow our general fund," Smith said. "This might give us some options in the future."

Another bill under consideration would transfer taxes from 911 emergency service to local governments.

The 911 surcharge has been on phone bills for North Carolina residents since 1989 to help improve emergency systems, especially in rural areas.

Instead of the tax on the phone bill, the new law proposes giving local governments the authority to levy special use taxes to pay for 911 services.

After a briefing by leaders of the commissioners' association, commissioners will visit the Legislative Building and meet with state representatives and senators on specific issues.