Town asks for delay in tax distribution decision

Published 9:37 am Thursday, February 11, 2016

We hear you.

That’s the message County Manager Mike Ruffin sent out on social media, referring to Mocksville, Cooleemee and Bermuda Run’s opposition to a possible change in the way sales taxes are distributed.

“We have heard clearly that all three towns are opposed to the change,” he said, outlining specifics mentioned by all three towns – operating a police department in Cooleemee, economic development concerns in Mocksville, and Bermuda Run’s ability to shape its own future.

County commissioners can vote to change the way the taxes are distributed – hundreds of thousands less to the towns and more than a million dollars more to the county – at their April meeting.

“We continue to have discussions with town leaders as we consider our next steps,” Ruffin wrote. “We want to be transparent with members of the community who we believe deserve fair and equitable distribution of these revenues.”

The Mocksville Town Board last week adopted a resolution asking that the issue be decided in a thoughtful manner, and not be binded by an April deadline. The board members also vowed to take “the high road” in the discussions.

“It just baffles me that a policy change that relates to millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands to the town, millions in total, that you all as a sister government elected by the people of our towns are given no more time to deal with it than if the issue was whether to change garbage collection from Thursday to Friday,” said Mocksville Town Attorney Hank Van Hoy.

Even if a change is made, it doesn’t have to be this year. It could have been done any of the years since 1971, and wasn’t.

The resolution encourages the boards to take the time necessary to come up with solutions.

“The draft of this resolution is urging … a thoughtful, carefully considered process where everybody tries to learn the needs of the others. That’s how government is supposed to work,” Van Hoy said. “Because we can say ‘to heck with you, we are opposed, do what you want to do and we will retaliate,’ but that’s not the way we should act. And I hope the county will respond in kind and I hope the other towns will.

“At least we made the effort to take the high road,” he said.