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Archive for May 10th, 2011

Tax Crazed in Cabarrus

This new JLF Region Brief depants-es the claim that Cabarrus County needs a quarter-cent sales tax hike. The high — or low — or certainly naked — points:

  • About twenty percent of the county operations budget for fiscal year 2011 goes to pay the interest and principal for the accumulated $333 million debt. County commissioners approved $220 million of this amount without voter approval.
  • This debt service is 34 percent of K-12 education spending and 31 percent of spending on community colleges.
    Over the last five school years, Cabarrus County Schools had the fourth-highest average per-pupil capital expenditure in the state ($1,774). It was $877 higher than the state average and nearly $1,000 higher than the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (see appendix).
  • The $42 million in debt service paid in FY 2011 is more than the county spends on human services, general government or public safety.
  • County commissioners have put taxpayers on the hook to pay half the debt for the North Carolina Research Campus, a dubious project that is largely dependent on diminishing state appropriations to the UNC system and community colleges.
  • With county unemployment above 11 percent, home sales down nearly 80 percent, and gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, county commissioners will pay this fiscal year a total of $1.3 million in taxpayer-funded gifts to such private firms as the Great Wolf Lodge, a racecar wind tunnel, and the Motor Racing Network.

My favorite bit of misdirection is the notion advanced by backers of the tax that because the county grew so much from 2000 on — adding 47,000 residents by 2010 — it must therefore raise taxes. You mean to tell me that 47K deadbeats moved to Cabarrus and are not paying taxes? Call the law!

Decoded, here is what Cabarrus officials mean to say. “Because we squandered the revenue throw off by the boom times and did not try to deliver essential services in the most efficiency manner possible despite a temporary glut in revenue, we are now stuck. But rather than admit fault, we are going to scare the populace into supporting a hike tax that we can spend in any fashion we like — and we will.”

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Newsome’s Departure No Surprise

Football coaches within CMS feel that CMS admin is actively hostile to football — and that feeling only deepened with CMS’ gambit to wipe out middle-school sports.

Add to that the perception that Butler has a bulls-eye drawn on it because of recent success — and enrollment/player behavior flux — and of course Mike Newsome would look to move on up the road. A.L. Brown is the kinda job coaches can stay at for decades — so long as they win.

Newsome should win.

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May 2011
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