A little TLC 

Published 10:26 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Saluda considering special downtown tax for sidewalks 


SALUDA — The City of Saluda is considering enacting a special downtown service tax in order to replace sidewalks and fund other needed projects.  

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The Saluda Board of Commissioners met earlier this month, and heard from City Manager Jonathan Cannon, who said he needed direction from the board on whether or not to pursue the tax.  

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden said a municipal service district may be a city’s downtown and Saluda has a creek that runs under the sidewalk. Saluda has replaced approximately 100 feet of the sidewalk, with Baisden saying there’s another 200-300 feet left to replace.  

“That would be a municipal service district that you could add an additional tax to fix the sidewalk and creek, as an example,” Baisden said.  

Cannon said after being asked if there was a tax increase this year that the city did not impose a tax increase but some property increased because of Polk County’s tax revaluation last year.  

The state of North Carolina permits municipalities to create service districts, known as municipal service districts. Cannon said a request came before city staff to provide information regarding municipal service districts.  

A municipal service district has to be a defined area to provide certain services, and requires that the governing board make statutorily required findings and the area needs the services “to a demonstrably greater extent” than the rest of the municipality or if the services are not provided at all in the rest of the municipality, according to NCGS 160A-537.  

The tax rate of a municipal service district cannot exceed $1.50 per $100 of property valuation, unless specifically approved by a majority of voters in the district.  

Cannon said NCGS 160A-536 details for which purposes a service district may be created, but not all purposes are applicable to Saluda.  

No voter approval is required before levying an additional tax within a service district, but the governing board must hold a public hearing.  

Once a service district is established, services must be established and services must be provided, maintained or contracts let within a reasonable time, not to exceed one year, according to state statutes.  

Commissioners discussed creating a special service district, but have not yet set a public hearing.  

Commissioner Stanley Walker said commissioners need to have some idea of how much money would come in from a special tax. He said if the tax only generates $500, for example, that would not be enough to keep the bathrooms clean.