Holly Springs votes to raise property tax rate
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@cherokeetribune.com
September 26, 2012 12:34 AM | 1362 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOLLY SPRINGS — In an expected move, the Holly Springs City Council voted unanimously to raise the city’s property tax rate by .586 mills at Monday’s meeting.

The millage rate for the 2012 tax digest was set at 6.055 mills, up from 5.469 mills, which city officials say is revenue neutral.

However, Councilman Michael Zenchuk warned just minutes before casting his vote that the city needs to look for other revenue streams to raise money.

“We can’t continue to rely on property taxes and personal taxes,” said Zenchuck.

He said 33 percent of the city’s total budget comes from “property and personal taxes,” which represents 60 percent of general fund revenue.

“We can’t sustain this,” Zenchuck said. “We have to continue to search out new commercial ideas to bring additional revenue sources into the city.”

Councilman Jeremy Smith said he agreed with Zenchuck’s outlook.

Mayor Timothy Downing — who did not attend Monday’s meeting — had said the city was looking at the prospect of a $150,000 general fund shortfall as a result of declining property tax revenue if the millage rate increase was not approved.

Holly Springs operates on a calendar year that starts in January.

Presently, the average owner of a $200,000 house pays about $437 a year in city property taxes. But with the millage rate of 6.055, the average owner of a home assessed at $200,000 would pay roughly $484.

Stephen Rayford, a 17-year Holly Springs resident, was the only member of the public to speak about the city’s finances at the meeting.

Rayford — who was present with his young son — spoke passionately for about eight minutes on the need for city officials to better use taxpayer dollars for redevelopment and beautification. He said other cities, especially Woodstock, are building up their downtown areas to attract more visitors and revenue.

“I love this place but I just don’t see where my money is making any difference at all,” he said.

“I haven’t noticed a lot of change except for the businesses that have come and brought it. Highway 5 looks the same. The little quarter of a mile that’s off of Palm Street that’s been totally neglected, I think is just atrocious.”

Monday’s meeting also included a special presentation by Cherokee County Board of Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens on the Homestead Option Sales Tax or HOST. The proposed sales tax — which is designed to reduce homeowner property taxes — will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot for local voters to consider.

Holly Springs was the first city in Cherokee presented with the HOST presentation by Ahrens, who said he plans to reach out to all of the cities in the county to discuss the tax.

Also during the meeting, the council:

* Approved 5-0 awarding the Stormwater Projects for J.C. Mullins Baseball Field and Hickory Road to Excelsis Construction for just over $15,500;

* Approved 5-0 awarding the 2012 Resurfacing Project to Colwell Construction Company for $284,005;

* Approved 5-0 an ordinance to amend Section 6.04.B.4 Stormwater Management Phasing Plan of Section 6, Post Development Stormwater Management of the City of Holly Springs Development Regulations;

* Approved 5-0 an ordinance (TA-02-12) to amend Article 2 – Interpretations and Definitions, Section 2.2 Definitions of the city of Holly Springs Zoning Ordinance; and

* Approved 5-0 an ordinance (TA-03-12) to amend Article 5 – District Uses and Regulations, Section 5.2 – Official Zoning Districts and Uses, and Section 5.4-31 – Motel, Hotels, and Extended Stay Facilities of the city of Holly Springs Zoning Ordinance.

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