NEW INFO: Legality Of Greenville's Tax Increase Questioned

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State Representative Brian Brown is questioning whether the Greenville City Council passed its budget legally Thursday night, which includes a two-cent property tax increase.

Speaking in a radio interview on WTIB 103.7 Friday morning, Rep. Brown says his office contacted Greenville City Attorney Dave Holec before the vote Thursday, cautioning that any vote on the budget that night could be illegal. At issue is whether a public hearing on a proposed tax increase occurred.

In response, Greenville city officials defend their budget process. Spokesman Steve Hawley says council met general statute requirements with a public hearing Monday, and even allowed unlimited public comment before final adoption of the budget that included the tax increase.

Hawley says the city can find no requirement to hold additional public hearings after a tax change is proposed.

Brown said in the interview he did not want the issue spun into Raleigh intervening in a local municipality's business, but that it was the duty of the legislature to do so when the situation warranted it.

Brown indicated the state treasurer's office would have the ultimate say on whether the Greenville City Council acted within the limits of the law when it voted Thursday night.



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Municipalities are deciding how to balance their budgets after the state legislature reduced the amount of money cities receive from fees like privilege tax.

Thursday night, Greenville City Council approved the city's budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget includes a two-cent increase on every $100 of property. That equates to $30 or more in taxes per year on a $150,000 property.

Earlier this week, Mayor Allen Thomas voiced his displeasure with the move, saying it comes amid rising utility rates.

"I oppose the decision made by Calvin Mercer, Marion Blackburn and others to raise our property taxes," Thomas said Tuesday. "This was not a choice of necessity. This was a choice by four council members to make this move. We had other options."

It's the first time in ten years that property taxes have been raised in Greenville. The changes will take affect July 1.

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Municipalities are deciding how to balance their budgets after the state legislature reduced the amount of money cities receive from fees like privilege tax.

One city in the east could raise property taxes for the first time in ten years, while another is about to raise water and sewer rates by more than $10 per month.

In Greenville, the city council has voted in favor of a two-cent increase on every $100 of property. That equates to $30 or more in taxes per year on a property of $150,000.

While the majority of Greenville City Council members support that increase, Mayor Allen Thomas does not.

"I oppose the decision made by Calvin Mercer, Marion Blackburn and others to raise our property taxes," Thomas said Tuesday. "This was not a choice of necessity. This was a choice by four council members to make this move. We had other options."

Councilman Calvin Mercer disagrees with the mayor.

"We have made deep cuts in our budget to make up a lot of the 2.1 million annually less than we've been operating with since 2012," said Mercer.

Elsewhere in Pitt County, water and sewer rate hikes could be a reality in Ayden, Grifton and Winterville.

For every 3,000 gallons of water, residents currently pay about $11.50 a month. But that could go up to $19 a month.

Sewer rates for those areas are currently at $23.34 but could increase to more than $26.50, which is almost $11 more a month.

Greenville will have a final vote on the budget Thursday. If it passes, the changes will take affect July 1.

If you're opposed to the sewer and water hikes in Winterville, there's a public hearing on the budget coming up on June 17.


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