By: Steve Trubilla
To sustain the current level of services in Franklin County, it is necessary to raise the tax rate by just under 9.5 cents per $100 of property valuation. This is the guidance that has been reported by the finance director.
Work load indicators are clear. If taxes are not raised, many things we all take for granted will be significantly impacted, degraded and placed at risk of being discontinued.
These are not nice to have things. Well, then again maybe they are. Nice to have is relative. It comes down to what you can afford.
Unless you are independently wealthy, what you can afford is the reality of how one has to approach financial decisions.
You may want a new car, but your roof is leaking. So you put off the car and fix the roof. Planning for it not to rain is not a plan that will work.
If you are fortunate enough to have a job, demanding your boss give you a raise may result in your not having that job.
You could apply to your boss's sense of charity and play on her sympathy, offering you are doing the best you can but just need more money.
I suspect at some point you may get your feelings hurt and be told it is time to live within your means. It is not the answer you want to hear, but the one you need to hear.
When it comes to government, they do not ask for more money, they just take it with taxes. If you do not pay, they will take your property.
Live within our means is the answer those in Franklin County, NC leadership, also need to hear, and taxpayers need to demand.
The question has been asked time and time again: What is the strategic plan for economic development in Franklin County?
I have researched this very thoroughly. There is a document for Franklin County's future economic development, but it is not viable.
Hundreds, if not thousands of hours were invested in this document. I can cite example after example of processes, and procedures not being followed and meetings routinely cancelled. My assessment: It is nothing more than words on paper.
Tax revenue flows from economic development, without it, the forces of attrition and atrophy will ultimately overtake every dime. Predictably, taxes will continue to go up as new industry passes by Franklin County.
In recent years there has been explosive growth all over the state. A passive search on the Internet tells this story. Why not here in Franklin County? In large part it has to do with taxes, and what Franklin County has to offer, or the lack thereof.
Having seen the political wheels turn on previous proposed tax increases, here is what you are looking at. The proposal is for 9.5 cents. My guess is it will be whittled down to somewhere around 5 cents.
Officials will vote on it. Of course it will pass. Five cents is better than 9.5 cents. Somehow this will be seen as a victory.
The headline that said we needed the 9.5 cents to just get by will be lost, and things will just plod along for a few years until the next tax increase.
What about the reported additional 11.8 cents it will take right now to meet the $5 million dollars of requests for funding?
Look a little deeper at this; do you think the additional 11.8 cents factors in the county sewer system? To date, there have been 24 documented spills in the last 13 months. Operative word is documented, if taken under investigation, and soon it will be. Expect that number to grow considerably.
Why do I say this will be getting much more attention? It is because this is no longer just a Franklin County problem. When the pumping station, that cannot contain its current volume fails, the surface water flows in creeks feeding Falls Lake. That lake is a major Raleigh water source.
There are people in Wake County now paying a lot of attention to this. I plan on meeting with some of them.
Regional commerce is intrastate, and Raleigh is a hub. This means Franklin County has the potential to negatively affect the entire state's economy.
The sewer problem has been known for many years. As this story grows, so will the cost. If you are in business, could prove it was known, and not disclosed, would you file a lawsuit?
How many millions do you think this could cost? Guess who gets to foot the bill for it, and how many cents it will add to your taxes?
Now that Franklin County owns Franklinton's water system, I wonder what it will cost for a new water treatment plant, and what repairs /upgrades that system needs?
Do you think that is covered in the proposed 9.5, I mean 5 cent tax increase?
Well, at least we have a golf course. All we need is a plan and some money to turn it into a park. You guessed it, not included in the tax increase either.
So here is a question you deserve an answer to: Just how much of a tax increase do we really need?
Are our elected officials and county executives living within "our" means?
Think this does not matter? It just might, if you ever want to sell your house.
In 2016, four of Franklin County's county commissions will be up for re-election. Want to bet most will be re-elected?