2012-01-26 / Letters

Letters To The Editor

Who’s really paying the bills in Wilkes County?


TO THE EDITOR: TO THE EDITOR: It seems that on a pretty regular basis lately I read in The News-Reporter whereas some local government official is telling everyone that some sort of infrastructure improvement in Wilkes County is being paid for with SPLOST and not being paid for by property owners in the county. As a property owner and someone whom believes in buying local all that I can, I beg to differ with them.

Just whom do they think pays most of the sales taxes in this county? Even though it is true that SPLOST is a sales tax and thus paid by any and everyone that does business in this county, it still ends up being a tax with most of the burden failing on those of us whom own property and live here. How so might one ask?

Property owners for the large part are farmers and timber growers. These people need to buy feed, equipment and supplies on a regular basis. In addition, they are the ones most likely to utilize services such as vehicle and equipment repair, infrastructure repair, and professional services. All of these have sales taxes attached to them.

The argument that tourist pay a large chunk of taxes does not hold water. We just do not enjoy enough of a tourist draw for that. If someone dares to tract the total amount of sales taxes paid by tourist, I would estimate that it is less that 25%. Sure people on the low end of the economic scale pay sales taxes but not in the same proportion as those with greater means. After all, food is tax exempt.

Now if I wrong about his then please show me the actual statistics that prove me wrong. In the meantime, please quit perpetuating the myth that SPLOST is not costing property owners. A tax is a tax is a tax and those whom work the hardest to have more pay more. Unfortunately, this is now the American way.

JOSEPH M. RILEY

( Editor ’s note: The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is funded by anyone who spends money in Wilkes County for retail products except certain food items. Receipts for Wilkes County average about $95,000 per month or $1.14 million per year. That money is used for specific projects all of which are voted on and approved through the election process. Without SPLOST, those projects (right now the most visible is the ongoing and much-needed courthouse renovation) would have to be funded by an increase in property taxes. The only other alternative would be to abandon the projects altogether. The point is, those projects are made possible by SPLOST and property taxes remain at the level they would have been anyway.

Additionally, the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST, one percent of the seven percent collected in Wilkes County) is used specifically to roll back property taxes. LOST averages about $63,000 per month or $740,000 per year. That amounts to a reduction in property taxes of more than two mills.

Granted, property owners are paying their fair share of sales taxes but every dollar spent in Wilkes County by tourists, out-of-county employees, non-property owners, and other outsiders helps to relieve the burden.)

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The editor certainly made

The editor certainly made some good points but I think that he missed my point all together. Property owners in Wilkes County spend the most money in this county, thus they pay the lions share of the sales tax, period! Therefore SPLOST and LOST cost property owners far more than all the others combined so my good sir, we are paying more than our "fair share". As for the much needed improvements that are mentioned, can we really justify them? With less than 11,000 people in this county and probably less than 4000 of them paying property taxes, I personally don't think so.