The manager and commissioners chairman of North Carolina’s largest and most urban county said Tuesday that they’re against any plan that would take local sales tax revenues from Mecklenburg and give it to other counties.
County Manager Dena Diorio and board Chairman Trevor Fuller responded to a plan by state Sen. Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican, to send more sales tax revenues to rural areas still smarting from the recent recession – while urban counties prospered.
Diorio said such a plan wouldn’t build “long-term sustainability” for rural counties.
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“That sales tax is generated here for the sole purpose to provide support and services for our community and to help us meet the needs of this community on a go-forward basis,” she said. “What we need to be doing is to figure how we build jobs, good jobs, for everybody in the state of North Carolina.”
Diorio and Fuller said they are aware that smaller counties – particularly in rural areas – have a difficult time luring jobs and haven’t rebounded from the recession.
Fuller said the state needs to drive economic development that brings jobs into those areas – not take money from urban counties that would force them to cut services or raise property taxes.
“If a rural county gets $500,000 in added sales tax revenues, that’s not going to build a school or create an infrastructure,” he said. “It’s not going to do anything to draw business to that county.
“So we’ve not gained anything. Instead, we’re hurting the more urban counties.”
He said there needs to be a regional approach to economic development in smaller counties, where larger, more prosperous counties such as Mecklenburg are helping surrounding counties with strategies or potential federal grants to lure businesses.
“We want to be helpful to find solutions,” Fuller said. “To just take from one pot and add it to another pot gains you nothing. It’s still the same money. If we can help smaller counties do any number of things that they can’t do alone, that’s the kind of thing we ought to be doing – not this money grab.”