Polk calls for referendum on property transfer tax hike

Published 2:33 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

Polk County voters will have a chance this November to approve or reject a higher land transfer tax.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a resolution calling for a non-binding advisory referendum to increase the land transfer tax by up to 0.4 percent.

Commissioners previously agreed to earmark revenue from the additional tax to preserving farmland if the new tax is approved by voters.

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The board sat behind a large cow cutout named &dquo;Rose&dquo; Monday with a sign that said &dquo;Save Our Farmland&dquo; and showed Rose urging residents to &dquo;vote yes for the land transfer tax!&dquo;

The referendum will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The referendum statement will say, &dquo;Real property transfer tax at the rate of up to 0.4 percent of value or consideration,&dquo; with choices of &dquo;for&dquo; or &dquo;against.&dquo;

Commissioners agreed previously to hold the referendum during the 2007 election, but last year decided to change the referendum until this year because this&bsp; is a presidential election year.

The current board has said it will use the funds for farmland preservation, but the referendum does not allow counties to permanently designate the funds for a specific purpose. Future boards could decide to use the funds for other purposes.

The land transfer tax so far has failed in all 20 counties in North Carolina where a referendum has been held. But Polk officials have said Polk County could be the first to approve such a tax. A bill to take the land transfer tax option off the law books just failed to pass in the N.C. General Assembly.

Commissioners said Monday that they are pleased Polk County voters will have the option of whether to approve the tax.

Commissioners may impose the tax only if the referendum is approved by voters.