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Joint | July 21, 2015 | Press Room | Press Conference: Sen. Brown

Full MP3 Audio File

First of all I thank all of you for being here this afternoon and I also want to thank my house and senate colleagues from both parties for for joining me today and as some of the house members have had to leave, they've got section starting at 12 o'clock so they had to leave but many are hoping to be in and I hope the've many of you, further we're here. I also want to thank on special thanks to our local leaders over here today including county commissioners, county managers, school surprientendants, community college president and others for the role of the day from communities all across North Carolina. We're all here this afternoon because we all believe our current tax process needs reform. You've heard me say before when the current system was put in place North Carolina was a different state mark places like [xx] shelbey for commercial herbs. Today retail is centered in a few prosperous urban areas, people from everywhere else travel it's about everything from appliances, to clothe, s to food and they leave their tax dollars behind. As a result, the current system in inequitable. It takes money out of the vast majority of our counties, many of them struggling, and puts it into just a few counties, most of them thriving. That means an overwhelming majority of our counties are hurt by this policy. It means residents of poor counties are subsidizing schools in richer counties, but their own schools have less funding. It means there are major obstacles to job creation in rural North Carolina. Earlier this year, I introduced a bill to change North Carolinas' un-equated system of redistributing sales tax. Over the past several months, that bill has been the topic of much debate. And I understand we passed a compromised version that would allocate sales dollars fairly, to ensure our local governments benefit from tax dollars paid by their own citizens. Unfortunately I think a lot of attention given to this bill has been focused on the exaggerated and the extreme. We forwarded it called a lot of unfair names and me as well like Robin Hood plan. But the truth is just the opposite. For years the current system has redistributed wealth and in 2007 when the legislator under the leadership that time switch the formula from 50-50 to 25-75, they were stealing from the poor to get to the rich, and that was wrong. The fact is this plan finally corrects that decade-long redistributions of wealth from poor areas to urban areas. The dramatically health is to 80+ none metro counties in North Carolina for allowing most growing urban counties to expect very low change in their sales tax revenues by the end of the phasing period. It helps insure all North Carolina counties' benefits from tax dollars, there are citizens pay so they have the local resources necessary to strengthen public education, to track new jobs and contribute to our economy. and that is what we all should want, after all as the economist Brent Lane has said. The economic well being of citizens throughout North Carolina depends not on our few urban economic engines, but on the broadly distributed growth that has is long characterized as the states economy, but you've already heard from me, and from the executive the legislative branches, on our opinions about this bill I think now it is the time to hear from the local raters, about how the current sales tax system affect their accounts in part with [xx] from me, that system we mean to them. I have got several speakers;first, from green county, Chairman [xx] my name is [xx], and I share some [xx]. I am here today to support [xx] Senator Brown's tax redistribution plan and grateful for the opportunity to speak in favor of initiative and on behalf of Greene county it is my belief that the current tax systems in North Carolina favors the larger counties. We belief that legislation helps to level the playing field and provide for some of the smaller counties in North Carolina such as Greene with population just over 21000 with opportunity remains economic viable and able to provide better essential government services for our citizens the added revenue generated as a result of this new tax will be used to to fund desperate needy school construction improvement in Greene county as well as to ensure our employees receive competitive salaries and addition we will be able to find our recreation problem, and [xx] throughout the county. Again, I am grateful for Sen

Brown and all those who were involved in these much needed tax reform in  North Carolina I urge the General Assembly to approve this legislation during the 2015 legislative session. Thank you thank you Gerry, next I have Dr. Brenda Case[sp?] from Stanly County Community College President. Thank you, good afternoon as Community College President I'm often asked what keeps you awake at night, the answer to that question is very simple, it is the inequality that exist among the colleges in our Community College System, and the impact that that has on our local students. Currently where you live as a community college student, dictate the quality of your educational experience, the students who attend Stanley Community College pay the same tuition right as those students to attend the larger community colleges in the state, however while they pay the same tuition right, they are placed at a distinct disadvantage, because they do not have the same access to services, technology, or cutting edge educational programming. Stanley Community College does its up most to provide a quality environment for student learning and success, but we don't have adequate resources to provide and experience equal well to that, being provided to the Metropolitan areas of the state. The Sales Tax Fairness Act would provide additional resources for the college to begin to close the gap that exist between what our students need and deserve, and what we have the financial ability to provide the proposed change would generate an addition $1.4 million for education phased in over four year period. Our students as well as our students in other rural counties deserve that equality thank you. Thanks Doctor Case next I have the High county superintendent Doctor Randolph Latimore Good afternoon Senator Brown has basically told us to speak form the heart so I have all this nice prepared statements to me but I'll just talk with you about why we need this sales tax fairness act to go forward Hyde county is one of the smallest counties in the state of North Carolina, we are one of the poorest counties in the state of North Carolina what would the change do for Hyde county from a school's systems perspective. One we pay the lowest teachers supplement in the area 1.5% a flat rate of $200 for classified employees that is the lowest of any of the surrounding school divisions in our area. Secondly, our teachers' salaries are the lowest in the area. We have been looking for a year for a particular teacher to come into our school system, to work in a specific area, but the funding is not there for us to get the person, and that person is needed. Over the last five years in Hyde County, we have reduced positions classified and certified by 52, by 52. The sales tax fairness Act would send additional dollars to Hyde County for us to begin the replacement or the reinstatement process particularly putting this instructional systems back into the classrooms at our elementary level. They are desperately needed. We we have in Hyde county a bus garage that was build in 1939.1939 we cannot get our buses into the bus garage for their inspections we can get the hood part in but the other part of the process outside and our mechanics are down on their dollars to do what has to be done plus we have an out side ramp where you drive the bus up on and then you can walk on under the bus it has been flooded twice because we are coast in Hide County so water is an issues when we get to storms. Still Stealth expanderas act will also allow additional dollars to come into the county to help with our athletic programs on the mainland uphide as well

as [xx] coke now let me tell you a little bit about Hyde county the closest chain food store from the middle of the county is about 30 minutes or 40 minutes away if you want to go do some major shopping it's an hour an hour and a half, two hours how ever you may even come here to Rolly from Hyde county, Those dollars that are citizens in Hyde county take out to go other places to purchases goods and services on lost dollars to Hyde county because we do not get that back the way the system is structured now what senator Brown and his colleagues are proposing makes perfect sense. Hyde county will definitely benefit overall from this act moving forward and becoming part of what is going to make North Carolina a great place for our children.  Thank you Thank you [xx]. Next I have the Robinson County Manager Ricky Harris. Ricky? I promise not to be low. I want to take the first opportunity to thank Senator Brown. This has been a concern for Robinson County for many, many years and we appreciate that him, I think one of the most important parts of this [xx] is and we think [xx] is what it should be considered. I'm Ricky Harris, I'm Robinson County Manager, we're [xx] on the border with South Carolina, [xx] [xx] county. There's two major points cause I want to say [xx] bill. Robinson County hasn't build a school since 1983. We haven't been able to afford a school since the year 1983 which is over 30 years so you can imagine what we're working with if our newest school was built in 1983. The present day, we counted them yesterday we have 114 mobile units that we use in our [xx]. 114, I think those are the two most important points for Robinson County, that this sales tax will make the difference in. We're talking about $3-6 million for Robinson County to be able to fund these schools, and to alleviate these problems. Thank you Senator [xx] Next I have Franklin County Commissioner Don Lancaster. Good afternoon I'm Don Lancaster, I am a county commissioner from Franklin county, just know the piece on US one. I was born and raised in North Carolina and I was told early on that when you're dressed one, two and three people is you all, but four or more is all of you, so to all I'm here to support senator's fair sales tax distribution, I appreciate you for doing this. Franklin county has grown in the last 10 years, 20 percent in populations. All that workforce 62% go outside the county to work, well that creates a problem, they spend their money outside your county, which presents a major problem for infrastructure for Franklin county. We've invested in schools, water and sewer but we have historically funded that growth based on property tax. We cannot continue to do that. Our tax rate now is 92.5 cents, It's a burden to our senior citizens, it's a burden to economic development and we just can't simply keep raising property tax, we have to have another area in our quaver. Franklin County economic development incentives come from local funds, not state funds so that creates a problem in economic development. Increased revenue from sales tax will help us to attract and retain business in Franklin County. We stand to receive almost $14 million in our 2015-16 through 2019 in new dollars from this plan which is big from Franklin county. We can use that money to reduce property tax and the burden for our citizens to keep invest in infrastructure to replenish our fund balance which we've had years a lot during the re-session period. Growth is going to come to Franklin county, we're going to experience that growth because of our proximity to Wake county,

and we like that plot 70, but we just a way to fund it, that's not on the bags or tax payers with property tax. So I just thank you were nothing, Senator Barefoot for giving me this opportunity to speak and I do support it and I hope we will get it through thank you. I do. Next I have the Scotland county chairman Guy McCook. Thank you senator, I appreciate the opportunity to come speak today in favor of this Act, Senator McNace. I want to thank him for all the extra effort that he has put foward on behalf of many of the Rural Counties in this State. Scotland County is not the smallest county in the State and unlike some of the media reports, we don't think we are the poorest county in this state. But we do have a lot of issues including high unemployment, we have lost a lot of jobs, back in the early 2000's. In one year we lost 4000 jobs in our community in a one year period time, with that with that is tax base, with that is a lot of the things that drives revenue into a community the size of ours. When I wake up every morning I do two things, one is I'm looking at how to increase jobs in my community and I'm trying to also look at how to increase investment in my community. I'm realtor by trade so I am selling my community every minute of every day. Whether as a commissioner or as a realtor or as a citizen of my community. This act allows us to strengthen our revenue stream. Scotland county currently has the highest tax rate in the state. When you all gasp a while ago at a tax rate of 92 ours is a dollar of three, and with that we have five cent fire tax on top of that for folks that live outside the city of [xx] and it is a struggle every day as a commissioner to find the adequate revenues necessary to built schools, to pay for sheriff patrol car, to buy fire trucks and ambulances and all the other mini myriad of items that we have t be responsible for as commissioners. So I would ask that this Act be something that every member of the General Assembly look at intently look at trying to support it means the difference between us being a vibrant viable community and having to and try to increase property tax rate one more time in our county. Next I have John Trump [xx] Bertie County Commissioner. First of all, thank you Senator Brown, Senator Ingram. Thank you very much chair person commissioner Wilson [xx] Bertie County is one of the poorest counties in the state of North Carolina, we have a crumbling infrastructure, we have a school system that we are holding together with threads and needles this money that we can get from the taxes, that would be rescheduled to come back to our county, can turn around and bring the teachers that we need to educate our children, to bring technical education for the children who don't build a college to have somewhere to go and be employed afterwards. When we turn around by building an economy, it takes money. It takes money for everything we do, we build a new high school, now we worry about how we pay the electric bill. Other counties are building motor plants because they don't have good boarder. This is money that will be will used to improve the lives of everybody in Bertie county, not just to select few well, we wait from a voluntary EMS system to a paramedic level system because we were not fair and equal to all people. All commissioners move forward with this. That's over a million dollar investment it has to be paid one way or the other. We will move forward and I thank you Senator Brown for standing it up and I thank you Senator Ingram because it takes change to make change for fairness for all people, thank you. Next to we'll have Jim Bergan, Harnett County. Chairman. Thank you. Senator Brian, I want to thank you for dealing with the big complex issue that impacts every county in North Carolina and I want to thank my good friend Senator Ron Rabin,

Mr. Ron if you could come in. On April, 20th 2015, board of commissioners unanimously passed a resolution in support of Senate Bill 369, the sales tax. We did that for the following reasons, in 2014 Harnett County lost $244, 458, 663 in potential retain spending for residents shopping and dinning outside of our county, that equals to more that $5 1/2 million in loss sales tax dollars We are a rural county located ring two of our state's largest urban centers which has resulted in sales tax revenue leaving our county on all sides. Our property tax is 75 cents for 100 hours evaluation which is the 26 highest rate tax in the state and one of the highest in our region. Other counties in our region have tax rates there is much as 28 1/2 cents lower than ours. Our sales tax is already 7% compared with 6.75 in many of our surrounding counties. Harnett one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina which much of our growth come in as a result of military families coming to Fort Bragg though no additional state or federal funding has been appropriated for the population increase. We're expected to continue growing twice the rate of the state, but business retail doesn't come until after the roof top gets there leaving our counties struggling to find a way to meet the needs of our growing population. Every day 2/3 of our citizens leave Harnett County to commute outside of the county to work it's the highest I migration percentage in our region. The rating of our public schools is one of the top factors that companies consider when deciding where to locate their business. Hardy County rate 95th out of 115 school systems in the state and local public expenditures, spending $1034 per student. Only one county in our region ranked behind us with county ranking as high as sixth in safe. In 2015 our average teacher supplement was $2261 ranking 59th out of 115 systems. This change in the sales tax distribution formula would allow Hardy County to increase its support for our public schools and build quality schools that are needed to accommodate a rapid population growth, this is not redistribution but returning taxes to the county of origin. This is no different than the state wanting sales tax from Adam's ball through the internet, I believe this legislation is the right thing to do, this is the right time to do it. Again I want to thank you senator Brown for you hard work, your willingness to work towards a solution to this issue it's fair to everyone thank you senator. Next I have judge Jim Baker Madison County. Thank you. My name is Jim Baker and I'm a retired Superior Court judge and I'm currently serving as county commissioner. We are not just in favor of the Fair Sales Tax Distribution Act, we're passionately in favor of this bill and we left this morning at 6:30 from Madison County which is on the Tennessee State line to get here so that we could be here for this press conference. I am here along with my fellow commissioner Mr. Brigland[sp?] Mr. Dintri[sp?], Mr. Briggs, and our county manager, and I see around the representatives and commissioners from other counties. It's good to see my senator here, my representative meeting with the legislative session she had to be here so I'm happy to be speaking. I want to thank very much the representatives and the senators particularly Senator Brown for this bill. We really need this bill, it is not something that we would like to have. It's not something that would be of some benefit to some counties like Madison. I to talk about the high county and the bad county I can say the same thing, I could go over all the news that we have, note some counties situation is so were different from some of the county though we're not asking for the money for us it would be about half a million dollar and that's not a lot of money but we did everything from Madison County we've a total budget as in 21 million dollars or so, we're not talking about building new school, about building new recreations areas things like that, we're really talking about our economic survival, we had to make cuts in our budget in the past years to the point because nothing more to cut we don't have industry moving in, everything we can support and we can afford do any incentive and to incentive to bring industry in, I get up in the morning and go out on the by pass in my home and our citizen drive to work in bankim County ashrow, I watch the county how citizen spend the money in other county and we know none of that will becoming back to our county so definitely we would want to know what would be coming back this is something we're really depending on, this is a great benefit to us, to our citizen and not something that we need its something that we really must have, am so grateful to our senators and representative senator this, we've working for this, we argue all the senators and representative to approve and for our governor to sign the bill when it comes across his desk, thank you

very much for being here showing your support for this budget to many start small country such as mine, this vital Senator Tucker I know you want to say something, I'm not sure if any other senators would like to say something, Senator Tucker. Thank you Senator Brian, well thank you all for being here this morning, I appreciate all local folks coming in because all politics are local, and what thing is where to me as I stood back there and listened to Franklin and Honnet and all the other counties, isn't it amazing when you can acutely see something that is fair and in issue of fairness then all of a sudden it becomes back to hudson[sp?] I bring you greetings from Union County we Community to Sherlet just like Hornet and Franklin. We're the most mediated legitated county between the school board and the county commissioners. The school board has the pressure on it to provide buildings and capital requirements, for all those people who live in Union County but work in Sherlet. They travel back and forth like many folks from Hornet County, everyday to Sherlet to work, they spend their money there. I'm going to introduce you to a new term, I call this the Tax Reclamation Act. We're reclaiming the dollars that we're spending in Sherlet.  Harnett county is reclaiming the dollars that it spends in Raleigh. And so all those folks that stand against that even leadership in Mecklenburg call this tax planned draconian. All we're doing is reclaiming the moneys that our folks have already spent in those areas. And it's about fairness. And it's about being bipolarscent in this effort. we had a last budget cycle in Union County at 15% tax increase the highest one time the tax increased in the state and it was about schools for those people who don't want their kids to go to school in Mecklenburg County, we need right now high school and a middle school in Union County. So ladies and gentlemen this act is about reclaiming our tax dollars in fairness for the state of North Carolina so we won't continue to have two North Carolina's, thank you. Senator Brown from Onslow. I wanted to ask we have some Edgecombe county people here can somebody from Edgecombe county speak? Sure, real quick if we could? [xx] [xx] I'm going to move Wigans[sp?] from Edgecombe, county and I think I could just echo the sentiments of everybody already spoken, we have school needs, we have an issue that, and I won't speak to the dead might come to this general assembly that has the possibility of increasing our tax rate and we certainly can use this new sales tax revenue to solve some of those issues. I'd like to thank senator Brown, senator [xx] and senator Brown likes the claim, [xx] although she is in an adjoining county but both of them are doing an excellent job at representing us here. But we just like to thank all of the general assembly for their support in this act and we have several members of our board that has come up here to support this and we are here just to support it and just thank you for giving all of us an opportunity to come this bill, thank you so much. Thank you. Today you got close to 40 counties that are represented here today. and that was with a very short notice to be here, I think I could have gotten 80 counties if I had taken the time, but that just gives you an idea of how important this issue is across the state. I want again thank all the local fishers from across North Carolina who came out to share stories and support this plan, I encourage the county commissioners associations and the league of municipalities to come to the table and write the wrongs of the 2575 plan that was put in place in 2007 and as we all know governor Macoy has said he will now support our efforts to reform sale tax system but has said that fixing this issue would do more to help rural North Carolina and any of the current programs supporting 21 counties. SO I would encourage the folks listening here today and those listening across to state to tell your stories about  what is  happening and the struggling parts of our state and ask the governor to support this plan, and if he won't support put this plan, for a business plan to help rural North Carolina, at this time I'll be glad to take any questions. Is this going into the budget conference committee process, how important a priority is

this particular provision to the senate versus some of the other things that are in the senate maybe negotiate with the house in the coming weeks. I think today it talks about the importance of it and its important to me I think its important to all this senators that are standing  with me today so its a very important priority [xx] there, but when the rivalry legislation was put in place we in [xx] county in particular was caught by the 40% now its under roughly 20% and then you've got plenty on your hands and I would help you with that I appreciate your thoughts on how  we get [xx] distribution corrected because that's doing more of an harm harm than anybody knows as it did now [xx] is $100million goes back to the counties for school construction most of those dollarsare for teachers that is allocated out per capita and some of the smaller counties as you can imagine with smaller populations  get  very little of those dollars They only get 10 thousand That's the real the issue is great because in the other parts of the state and as that growth continues to grow it continues to hurt us more in our counties And a small account is like [xx] county we get a different sign up to attract more retail and and us because we are loosing more money than we gain? I've looked at [xx] county and [xx] the cities were help harmless and that's the case in this particular bill. [xx] County is one of those that is very, very close to a break even piece and further phase in There is a little bit [xx] county would have to sacrifice but in no time it will actually lose dollars because the growth upsets any losses that they would have, so it's something that they can understood their budgets in my opinion. There is also revenue on property tax that is[sp?] provided by those growth commercial growth, retail growth in these areas as well so it's not all bad [xx] Exactly. Senator Brown [xx] from Stokes County [xx] or just like old lesson [xx] has spoken today and without this possible tax revenue were going have the [xx] that's going to be coming up the next two to three years, and we just encourage all the senators and all the house members to adhere to the bill and make it happen, thank you for your service [xx]. Thank you. Again here, this is a bill that helps 83 counties out of 100 counties. 83 out of 100. I can't pass a budget with 83% I mean that tells you the support that this bill has and it is a struggle for some of these rural counties [xx] some of them. I have Jones County. Jones County gets six schools, two of them on separate times. I've told you about that. One sitting in property tax, 75 $1000 in Jones County. How do you build a school? You can't. There is no way to build a school in Jones County at this point, no way Yeah. Even the speaker has said that there is not that much support for this in the house, why do you think that's true and how do you how do you hope to try to change our minds? I don't think that's true. I have met with just about all the house members again you got 83 counties that win in this situation. I don't think those house members cannot listen to their constituents who are in this room today. If 83 win and the others were asked to give a little, I think that shows the support, and I think the house will have to agree as well. What do you make of the tourism counties that dropped in this, obviously urban counties have a lot going for them they can pick the difference in the county like Dare are making, what do you foresee as the impact to them and is it properly offset by the benefits that other counties can see it? That's a good question, and again those counties are a little bit unique, and I understand that, and that's why I've been willing to work with them, and I've talked to commissioners from all those counties, I've talked to I can't tell you how many people I have talked to, but the truth is, and in particular with their county, is their county has an advantage that no or the county has. Their county is getting $1.49 fro every dollar they collect on the per capita distribution piece. county is getting 81 cents on every dollar they collect. Now any buyer in this room can tell me that's fair I want to hear from. [xx] County gets 90 cents for every dollar they collect. How is that fair? I don't think anybody can tell

me that's fair, and I understand that their county will have to give a little bit, but I will be honest with you ask leadership to care of their county, and I'm asking the [xx] to give a little [xx] that's based of what we're doing here have the ability because they will continue to grow, they will have the ability I think to make it up, but again I'm willing to listen to any counties as we work through this process. Any other questions? If not I appreciate all of you being here today [xx].