Incorporation benefits aren’t equal

I found Chuck Werle’s letter [“Give Me Incorporation,” Sept. 10] to be an insensitive personal attack against Mr. Ferguson, and I felt it lacked substance.

Incorporating simply means that the individuals involved are creating a legal entity other than themselves. A small-business owner risks having personal assets such as their own house being taken away if sued. If incorporated, the business gets sued instead. Some corporation business plans allow equal ownership through stock percentages: Whatever one puts in, they get that percentage of any profits. Towns may incorporate to have more control over their own destiny. Whatever the reason for incorporating, you are starting a business by creating a nonhuman entity. This is a very serious thing and must be done in a responsible and fair manner.

In my opinion, the business incorporation of Swannanoa is not fair, because Swannanoa is way too rural. Larger-tract owners would pay far more than everyone else, yet get the same “benefits” as everyone else. So basically, the return on their investment is way lower than the return on the investment for owners of smaller land [holdings]. For example, Swannanoa residents would initially (I say initially sarcastically, but that is another story) be taxed five cents for every $100 of property value, so someone with a small lot and house assessed at $150,000 would have to come up with $75 more than they pay now. The neighbor with 100 acres assessed at $800,000 would have to come up with $400 more. But the so-called benefits—the return on the investment—are equally shared throughout the community. So who is riding on whose coattails here?

One argument I keep hearing from little birds around the community is that the large-property owners are rich and can afford it. The residents I know with large tracts work hard to keep their land—acquired by making wise business decisions or by inheritance. They are struggling to make the existing tax payments. [Werle’s] argument also implies that there are no rich small-tract owners.

Then there is the argument that incorporation would “save” Swannanoa from being annexed by Asheville. I do not see annexation as a threat. I would rather be annexed by Asheville than live under the yoke of tyranny that is being proposed by a small number of fear-mongering Swannanoa residents [whom] I have never even met.

I have no bias here, because I hold the deed to only half an acre; but a lot of the people I know have way more than that. When we drive to a restaurant together, I guess I’ll pay the tab. It’s only fair, since they’ll pay five times as much as me for that stupid streetlight I keep hearing the town will put in if this business is started.

—  John Kelleher
Swannanoa

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