Tax cuts coming to Union County: Can it be true?

Barry Goldwater, the former Senator of Arizona and former Presidential candidate once said, “Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes- and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?”

We often think of our representatives in Washington when we hear this quote but we really should focus our attention right here in Union County. The county has a direct responsibility on your real estate, property and sales tax.

You may recall back in early December I called on the Union County -commissioners to provide a permanent tax cut to the taxpayers for 2012. With support from many fellow taxpayers, we were able to put enough pressure on commissioners to start this process.

Like many, I recognize that the county has a large debt. I certainly understand the importance of paying off or down our debt, saving for long and short term plans and having a rainy-day fund set aside. As I delved into what the county could do with the $54 million they just received from the hospital lease extension, I examined each of these options. In the end what seemed to make the most economic sense was to provide tax relief to the taxpayers of Union County.

Let me further explain. Recently, I called the county manager’s office and asked if there was a penalty to pre-pay any of our current debt. They told me there was. In fact, they told me that paying down $49 million of our existing, callable debt would cost us $60 million. Unfortunately, we would have to pay an additional $11 million if we paid it off early. Now I have to admit, I am left wondering why our former commissioners agreed to bonds that would have such a prepayment penalty. I own a house and if I chose to pre-pay my mortgage, I do not have any pre-payment penalties, and neither should Union County. However, it is what it is and we are unable to go back and fix this.

If the county were to set money aside, where would it be held? How would the county insure that the money would remain in reserve?

The county certainly has legitimate needs and already, I have been told that several government agencies have called asking for the money. Yet no one advocates on behalf of the taxpayer and many times we get the short end of the stick. For once, it’s time to stand up and hold our politicians accountable. Sure we can spend more money but this also grows government. We all know that government only grows and rarely is contracted. Contrary to popular belief, the state is responsible to fund teacher salaries and the county funds capital needs. We have wonderful new schools and unfortunately a massive debt to pay

The commissioners, all five of them, voted unanimously to review our current tax rate and look for ways to reduce it at their next budget session for 2012. Each of them are Republicans and strive for lower taxes. Union County to my knowledge has never had a true tax cut. The time is now. All taxpayers deserve relief and I will continue to work hard until this comes to fruition. I encourage commissioners to show courage and prove Barry Goldwater wrong. What a great opportunity and example you can set for conservative office holders all over North Carolina by your courage to do the right thing and cut our taxes.

Frank Aikmus


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