06/07/05 — Council approves tax increase

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Council approves tax increase

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 7, 2005 1:49 PM

Come this fall, Goldsboro property owners could pay one of the highest combined tax rates in North Carolina.

Monday, the City Council unanimously approved the city's 2005-06 budget, which raises the city's tax rate 5 cents.

If Wayne County commissioners raise the county's rate 10 cents as proposed, the combined tax rate would be $1.42 per $100 valuation. The owner of a $85,000 house, the median value of a home here, will be billed $1,207 this fall, up $136 from last year.

Downtown property owners will be billed an additional 25 cents per $100; that rate is unchanged from last year.

Fewer than 10 percent of the state's cities and towns currently have a tax rate over $1.40, according to information provided by the N.C. League of Municipalities. Goldsboro's rate would be higher than those in other cities its size and in neighboring communities.

But property values are higher in many of those locations, so residents here may pay less in taxes.

The Goldsboro City Council had not raised the city's tax rate since 2001, and members spent little time this spring discussing the proposed increase to 65 cents.

They were more concerned that the budget not borrow as much from the city's savings. The original draft used more than $1.3 million from the fund balance, but council members made enough cuts that the final version only needs $876,000 to balance.

The council made no last-minute changes or comments on the spending plan.

A $1.42 tax rate would be high, according to the League of Municipalities' 2004-05 tax survey. Of the state's 500-plus municipalities, fewer than 50 had combined city-county rates over $1.40 this year.

Similar-sized cities typically have lower rates than Goldsboro will have. Wilson's rate is $1.29; Burlington, $1.07-$1.27; Kannapolis, $1.02-$1.12; Monroe, $1.08; Huntersville, $1.02, and Hickory, 98 cents-$1.09. (Some of those cities straddle two or three counties, hence the different rates.)

But the cost of housing is higher in many of those locations. For example, the median value of a home in Hickory is $125,000, so tax bills average $1,225-$1,362. The average tax bill in Huntersville is around $1,864.

State law allows local governments to charge a maximum tax rate of $1.50, so potentially, the combined rate could be $3 per $100 valuation.

Residents of Marton, in Scotland County, had the state's heaviest tax burden in 2004-05 -- $2 per $100 valuation. Other high rates include Carrboro ($1.79), Weldon ($1.78), Princeville ($1.71) and Chapel Hill ($1.65).

Many of those local governments are also considering tax increases this year.

Wayne County typically mails tax notices in mid- to late August. They will be due Sept. 1 but can be paid without interest or penalty through Jan. 5, 2006.