10/03/10 — Princeton to give those who build tax breaks

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Princeton to give those who build tax breaks

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 3, 2010 1:50 AM

If anybody has ever wanted to move to Princeton, now might be the time.

On Monday, the Princeton Board of Commissioners is expected to approve a proposal that would offer property tax breaks to both businesses and residents building within town limits.

Under the proposal, people looking to build a new home or business in the areas of new development within town limits may apply for a two-year tax break. Those looking to build a new home within the town's older neighborhoods may apply for a four-year tax break, while those looking to build a new business in the downtown area may apply for a five-year tax break. Also, people revitalizing an existing structure, adding at least $20,000 in tax value, can apply for a two-year tax break.

Town Administrator Marla Ashworth said officials decided to extend the breaks for the older neighborhoods and downtown areas to make them more attractive.

"We don't want to end up with a bunch of vacant lots in the middle of town and a bunch of houses on the outside," she said.

All applications would have to be made for construction beginning in 2011, and the tax breaks would equal the difference between the tax value of the empty lot and the tax value of the property with the structure.

Right now, Princeton's population is about 1,300, and has only had two or three applications for building permits within the 12 months, Ms. Ashworth said. And while the town does have a Bojangles, a Family Dollar, a Dollar General and a Hardees, she said, officials would like to offer their residents more.

"But we've got to have more rooftops to attract anything more than what we have right now," she said. "There's plenty of places for people to go."

Fortunately, she said she feels the town is well-situated on U.S. 70 to take advantage of growth in the area -- 15 minutes from interstates 795 and 95, less than an hour from Raleigh with the new Clayton bypass, and soon to be less than two hours from the beach with the new Goldsboro bypass.

"Princeton is kind of a good middle point between all these," she said. 'We're kind of in an odd spot."

But just in case that's not enough, she said the town is just trying to make itself more attractive to people.

"It's just something to give us an edge," she said.

And it should only help the town's tax base in the long run -- any tax breaks would only last for a couple years, and then would be fully on the rolls, she added.

"Postponing taxes two years isn't really a big deal," Ms. Ashworth said. "And you're talking a lifetime of having it afterward."

It also wouldn't add any costs to the town's water and sewer, police and fire services, which are already available in all the proposed areas, she said, and should in fact actually help bring down everyone's water and sewer bills.

"As the mayor said, it's an experiment," Ms. Ashworth said.