Tryon denies motion to rescind tax increase

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tryon Commissioners Wim Woody and Roy Miller attempted to rescind the town’s July decision to increase its property tax rate by 2.5 cents, but the majority of the board voted down the motion.

Tryon council met Tuesday, Aug. 20 and heard a motion by Woody to rescind the tax increase with Miller seconding the motion. Commissioners Doug Arbogast and George Baker voted no, with the tie broken by Mayor Alan Peoples who also voted no.

Tryon adopted its 2013-2014 budget in June without setting a tax rate because the state had not yet decided if it was going to give hold harmless revenues to towns and counties any longer. Last year Tryon received approximately $88,000 in hold harmless revenue. One penny in the tax rate for Tryon equals approximately $16,000 in revenue.

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On July 29, Tryon held a special meeting to set the tax rate and approved a 2.5 cent increase, with Miller voting against and Woody absent from the meeting.

Woody said he takes seriously rescinding laws that have already been passed but he was not present at the July 29 meeting and would not have voted for a tax increase.

“I don’t think an increase was warranted,” said Woody.

He said Tryon has about $500,000 in its fund balance and could have used that to make up the difference. He also said he objects to the way the July 29 meeting was done considering the meeting was a special meeting to discuss housing for a resident and to adopt a tax rate on a budget that was already adopted.

“I don’t care if it’s a penny or $10,000,” Woody said, “I’m against it.”

Arbogast said if a person’s house is worth $300,000, their taxes will increase $6 per month, so he thinks it is not a huge increase. He said the town is going to have $45,000 less in revenues next fiscal year and it’s the first property tax increase in 12 years.

Baker said he doesn’t like paying extra taxes but it has become law in the last few days that the town is going to lose $90,000 in its general fund.

“Taking it out of savings is the best way to go broke,” Baker said.

Baker said he would rather pay half that amount this year than three times next year and he thinks it’s short sided to think the town can take the money out of fund balance. He said he’s even more sorry Woody thinks council tried to put one over on him with the meeting.

Setting the tax rate was on the agenda, Baker said, and council thought it was necessary.
Miller said the town doesn’t know what it will receive in hold harmless funds until September and he thinks it was premature to set a 2.5-cent tax increase.

“This hold harmless may not go away,” said Miller.

Miller also reviewed other rate increases since 2002, saying water rates have increased 150 percent since then.

“I think at some point this town has to realize we’re not Spartanburg, not Charlotte and we’re going to have to look at outsourcing,” Miller said. “We can’t continue taxing our citizens into poverty. That’s not what government is here for.”

Peoples said the town will lose 50 percent of hold harmless revenue this year and the other 50 percent next year. He reviewed the town’s financial condition when he filed for mayor in 2001 when the town was $1.6 million in the red.

“I’m the person that’s been here for 12 years,” Peoples said. “I have fought tax increases for 12 years. I’m telling you we had to have it (the tax increase).”

The town’s tax rate increased this fiscal year, which began July 1, from 47.78 cents per $100 of property valuation to 50.28 cents per $100 of valuation.