01/15/09 — Duplin's Fussell opposes additional taxation power

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Duplin's Fussell opposes additional taxation power

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 15, 2009 1:46 PM

Duplin County Commissioner David Fussell is in Raleigh today opposing measures that would give counties more authority to raise taxes.

As a delegate to the County Commissioners Association's Legislative Conference at Raleigh's Sheraton Hotel Wednesday and today, Fussell was expected to cast his vote on behalf of the Duplin County Board of Commissioners. And while the Duplin board has been struggling to keep from raising taxes, Fussell said the Association of County Commissioners has 15 goals that would lead to increases in state taxes.

"That's the worst thing you can do in a recession," said Fussell, who sent a letter of protest to the association over the list of goals. "I would say rather than raising taxes, the state should re-apprise and prioritize the present spending and adjust accordingly. This is no time to raise taxes."

Fussell said he was also going to take issue with association leaders about a proposal to permit county commissioners to impose additional sales or other taxes without a public vote if another county has approved the same measure

Additional sales tax, a prepared food tax, impact fees for homebulders and a land transfer tax have been offered up as possible ways to raise money.

Fussell said if people in a county approve any such measure, that is fine, but that it should not give authorities in another county any additional power.

"Some counties have all these things, but they were put in by a vote of the people in those counties," he said. "We have enough power as it is -- too much. I personally believe you should not increase any taxes -- even ad valorem taxes -- without a vote of the citizens."

Voters in Duplin County last year defeated a measure to enable county commissioners to impose an additional sales tax authorized by the state. Wayne voters shot down a similar measure.

"With this authority (the association is seeking), we can override the will of the people," Fussell said. "If they increase your light bill, you can cut off lights, even do without. But when you add on a tax, there is no choice but to pay it. We can steal from you legally. And when we waste tax money, that is what we are doing."

Fussell said he intended to express his opinions during the discussions today in Raleigh. And he said he would vote in the best interest of the people of Duplin County.

"I am awaiting a response from several folks before making up my mind for sure," he said before leaving for Raleigh. "Since a vote of the Duplin County commissioners was not taken on any of the 18 pages of legislative issues -- and only a star was placed on the things County Manager Mike Aldridge liked -- I am free to vote as I think best."