Presenting her proposal to the board of commissioners May 28, Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene recommended a big tax hike to balance the budget.
Her plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins July 1, calls for raising the property-tax rate by roughly 15 percent. She blamed the sputtering economy, a drop in property values, increased funding requests and unfunded federal mandates for the increase.
Greene’s May 28 presentation mostly reviewed details that had been released ahead of the meeting (See those details here).
Board Chair David Gantt asked his fellow commissioners to wait until their next meeting, scheduled for June 4, to express their views on the proposal — and they obliged, keeping their thoughts to themselves. The June 4 meeting will also feature a public hearing on the budget.
However, during a May 28 general public-comment period, a pair of regular meeting attendees who are often outspoken didn’t hold their tongues, expressing outrage at the idea of the tax increase.
Stepping up to the podium, Candler resident Jerry Rice donned a mask with a long nose, accusing the commissioners of being “two-faced Pinocchios” who said one thing during the campaign and are doing something different in office.
He singled out the three freshman Republicans on the board for admonishment, asserting: “I am ashamed of my Republican friends, as commissioners, not to be standing up against this thing.”
Jupiter resident Don Yelton, a former GOP candidate for commissioner himself, continued the verbal onslaught. “When people get elected to office, two things happen: They get castrated and they get a frontal lobotomy,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Greene noted that she is closely monitoring 50 to 60 bills in the North Carolina General Assembly that could force last-minute changes to the budget before the commissioners vote on it June 24. Among them is HB 418, which would allow Buncombe County to form a new Culture and Recreation Authority and voluntarily consolidate facilities with municipalities.