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Reader’s Forum — 5-21-14


Sen. Curtis the one who should be embarrassed

I’m sure by now most people are aware of Sen. David Curtis’s reply to the lady who felt embarrassed to say she was a teacher.  What anyone has failed mention, however, is that Sen. Curtis should have been the one who was embarrassed.

We elected Dr. Curtis to represent this district, and what has he done? He introduced Senate Bill 587, which would have spent your tax dollars to pay for NC students to attend out-of-state optometry schools. Embarrassing. In the 2013 survey of state senators’ effectiveness and attendance, Dr. Curtis ranked number 45 out of 49 senators.  Very embarrassing.

I’m not even going to try to recap Dr. Curtis’s smug reply to the science teacher. Instead, I think I can explain the situation in simple enough terms that even politicians and newspaper editors can understand.

People are pretty smart, and they can vote with their feet. If they think a job has really good pay and/or benefits, the line of applicants will stretch out the door and around the block. On the other hand, if people feel that a job’s pay and/or benefits are too low, they will walk away. Morale in that job will drop, and qualified applicants will be hard to find. Now it’s time to play “Are You Smarter Than a Politician?”

Which of the two above situations do you think best describes NC public education today?

Alan Hoyle



Double taxation increase


Now that the heat over the so-called “Trash Tax” has gone, we have another hidden fee proposed by the city council in their new budget proposals. It amounts to a voluntary contribution fee, and is a factor in the proposed increase in your property taxes.

One of the benefits of living in Lincolnton is the double taxation for certain city/county services. This includes the animal control and 911 emergency services. Up to now, Lincolnton citizens made a payment of $50,000 per year for these services, above and beyond the taxes all citizens of the county are required to pay. Last August, as part of city/county contract negotiations, the county proposed to raise this extra taxation burden to approximately $417,000 per year. In response, the city council recently passed a resolution to agree with a raise but to “only” $100,000 per year, for a five year period. That will obligate city taxpayers with a financial burden of $500,000 over this five-year period. Again, this is above what we pay in county taxes for these same services.

Now the kicker. Last August, I asked several city and county officials for the “legal controlling authority” for this double taxation. The only response I received was that the $50,000 payments were legal. Nice answer, but nothing to do with the question. Perhaps legal, but the question was why required. After I obtained independent legal advice, the basis for the extra payments was found. As was printed in the contract proposals last August, the existing fees are a result of nothing more than a “…mutual unwritten understanding” between the city and the county! No law, no signed contracts, no written record, no official resolution, no ordinance, no council vote, no legally binding provision. Basically, nothing more than a handshake over a cup of coffee.

During the last election campaign, all candidates, and other city officials, proclaimed they would not raise taxes unless all unnecessary expenditures were eliminated, and all possible budgetary efficiencies realized. The city council can authorize any tax burden they feel appropriate. However, council members not only have not eliminated the double tax burden of the $50,000 payment to the county, they will now voluntarily double it. The resultant $500,000 tax burden on taxpayers will unquestionably contribute to the proposed property tax increase. This property tax increase will not be the fault of county commissioners, but is clearly the responsibility of council members. They are the ones who are agreeing to this new “voluntary contribution fee,” but this time it is hidden in the proposed city budget. By my rough calculations, this new fee will have a greater economic impact on taxpayers’ pockets than the much condemned trash tax. If you don’t like a $500,000 increase in the spending for this double taxation, and an increase in your property tax, contact the council members before it’s too late. Call them, write to them, address them at the next council meeting. It’s time to stop paying for a “mutually unwritten understanding!”

Tom Hawk




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