Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"Council Admits To Raising City Taxes", and John Hammer's big lie

"The Greensboro City Council finally got around to admitting that it is raising taxes this year even though Greensboro  currently has the highest tax rate in the state of any comparable city.

At the City Council Budget Work Session on Wednesday, May 31, Councilmember Sharon Hightower asked if Guilford County lowering taxes would affect Greensboro.

Sharon Hightower doesn't understand much of anything about how budgets work

The problem with the question is that the proposed Guilford County budget doesn't actually lower taxes.  The proposed county budget has the tax rate set at the revenue-neutral rate, which is the tax rate that raises the same amount of revenue as the current tax rate but is 2.45 cents lower than the current rate because all the property in Guilford County was reevaluated last year.

Leaving the tax rate the same is a tax increase,
if the property revaluation raised values more than where taxes were before

In North Carolina, cities and counties are required by law to announce what the revenue-neutral rate is after reevaluation so that they can't slip a tax increase past unsuspecting citizens.

But the News and Record is letting them get away with it,
as they won't identify the tax increase as a tax increase

Slipping a 2.11-cent tax increase past unsuspecting citizens, as well as at least one councilmember and one daily newspaper, is exactly what the city has been doing for the past couple of months.  The revenue-neutral city tax rate of 61.14 cents has been announced, as is required, but there has been virtually no discussion of what it means, which is a sneaky tax increase that will provide the city with about $5 million in additional revenue.  The City Council has talked about keeping the tax rate the same, but in this case not lowering the tax rate means a tax increase.

Agreed, and the News and Record won't report it

Councilmember Tony Wilkins made a motion that the city not raise taxes but set the tax rate at the revenue neutral rate of 61.14 cents.  Wilkins made the motion but didn't get a second for a long time.

Tony Wilkins is just like the rest, as he throws out a motion he knows will fail, 
but gets to say he's a fiscal conservative, 
which he is very not in reality, as he funnels taxpayer monies to his campaign contributors
along with the rest of City Council

Councilmember Justin Outling said that he agreed with the idea of keeping the tax rate revenue neutral but said that he thought the taxpayers wanted the city to get moving on the bond projects that will be funded by the $126 million in bonds passed last November.

Passing bonds and raising taxes to pay for them are two different things

Now that we are in an election year, the budget with tax increases to pay for the bond spending, 
won't happen till next year when there isn't an election coming up

He said not having any idea what the city would cut from the proposed budget made him unable to support the revenue-neutral rate.

What needs to be cut if the City is not losing money under a 'revenue neutral' tax regime?

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that Wilkins should have brought the revenue-neutral rate up earlier.  Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann both agreed.

Bullshit from Abuzuaiter, Vaughan and Hoffmann

...The truth is that the entire budget discussion the City Council had on Wednesday should have held back in February when the City Council was supposed to give City Manager Jim Westmoreland direction on what they expected in the budget.

...In the discussion of Guilford County, Vaughan said that there should be a way to charge non-Greensboro residents more for using the libraries, the Cultural Arts Center and parks and recreation facilities.

Guilford County residents do pay more through much higher water and sewer rates
than those who live in the City

Barber said that there should be two ticket prices at the Coliseum - one for Greensboro residents and one for non-residents.  Vaughan said that might not work with tickets but would certainly work with parking at the Coliseum.

And the news will travel far and wide, 
that if you want to go into Greensboro to see a show,
you will have to pay more than City residents,
which would make a whole lot of people to tell Greensboro to stick it, and won't show

Wilkins said he'd been trying to get some support for that idea for four years.

It's a stupid, semi unenforceable idea

Are you going to hold up the traffic lines to card people on their way in?

...No motion was made, so no vote was taken, and most likely it won't be discussed until the City Council gets around to looking at the budget next year.

People in Greensboro do get the shaft because the taxpayers fund parks and recreation and the Coliseum, but everybody uses them.

County taxpayers pay about twice as much for water and sewer, 
and the increases go up about twice as much

...The main items on the agenda were the water rate increase and an additional raise for police officers and firefighters.

...The council agreed to a new water rate fee increase, which raises the rates for Greensboro residents 3.25 percent and non-Greensboro residents 5.5 percent.

Almost twice as much higher increase for County residents
who are getting taxed by the City for services through much higher water and sewer costs

...Greensboro doesn't have hundreds of thousands dollars hidden away in case somebody comes and asks for it, it has millions.

Agreed.  Over $300 million

For example, the city keeps 9 percent of its budget in its unallocated fund balance, which is a fancy word for a savings account.  The North Carolina Local Government Commission recommends that a city have a minimum of 8 percent and it is only a recommendation, not a requirement.  So that's about $5 million that could be spent without falling below the recommended minimum.

The City has over $300 million John

The city also has about $10.2 million in a Capital Reserve Account, which was set up in the 1980s by some city councilmembers to hide money from other city councilmembers who wanted to spend all the money the city had.  The City Council could spend this $10.2 million any time it so desires.

John Hammer either doesn't know or doesn't want everyone else to know

In fiscal year 2015-2016, the city ended the year with $4.3 million more in revenue than had been projected in the budget and the spending was $9.4 million less than had been projected.  That means at the beginning of the current fiscal year the city had $13.7 more in the bank than it had anticipated.
When you start talking $10.2 million in one account and $13.7 million in another account, after a while you're talking some real money.
City of Greensboro Slush Fund up to $319,947,599 from $281,866,902 in 2013

Page 126 of 384;
Up from $281,866,902 in 2013;

Fair Market Value of City of Greensboro Investments as of 6/30/2013; $281,866,902

Greensboro's hidden $282,210,485, which was $272,083,730 the year before, that was $273,932,356 the year before that