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Realtor Money Talks Again in Clay County

As expected the Clay County transfer tax was defeated Friday but not by the margins one would expect given the heavy spending by the North Carolina Association of Realtors (NCAR) to kill the measure. With 9 out of 9 precincts reporting, 2,641 votes were cast, a voter turnout of 31.98% based on 8,262 registered voters. The final result was 1,038 votes for and 1,603 votes against, a margin of 565 voters or, 39.3% for and 60.7% against.

Based on spending of $36,200 reported on August 8th this represents reported spending of $22.58 per no vote, a new record.  Based on funds of $57,500 committed to the opposition committee set up by NCAR this represents total spending of $35.87 per no vote, yet another all time high. Somebody's getting rich.  Meanwhile Clay County residents still have to find a way to pay for their schools and it's a sure bet that it's going to be property tax.

NCAR can afford to keep doing this for a while but can its members? All that NCAR is doing is shifting the burden from one form of taxation to another at $35.87 per vote. According to the Asheville Citizen Times:

Hoping to build a new primary school, Clay was the 20th county seeking to triple the land transfer tax. Voters everywhere have rejected the tax.

The land transfer tax would have raised about $350,000 last year, covering more than half the payment on a $10 million school-construction loan, Clay County Board of Commissioners Chairman Hub Cheeks has said.

There are almost 6 million registered voters in North Carolina. With a current spending rate of $6.93 per registered voter and a spending rate of $35.87 per actual no vote, one has to wonder what is going through the minds of realtors and what they hope to achieve by spending so much money to hamstring local governments struggling to maintain the quality of life that maintains and grows property values that a healthy real estate markets depends on.

3 Comments

  1. James

    August 31, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I still don’t understand NCAR leadeship. If I were a Realtor in North Carolina, I’d throw the bums out and transform the organization into a force for the common good.

    Do these actions represent a small, greedy core of NCAR, or is this kind of sentiment widespread.

    Hope you’ll cross-post.

  2. Jason

    September 2, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I don’t think you know what you are talking about. Everyone knows that the property values in Clay County are CURRENTLY being reassessed. Also- By continuing to misinform the amont spent. There was an article that told how much they were willing to spend to defeat this but not what they actually spent. People in Clay County can figure out to build this school if needed-without this extra tax.

  3. Greg Flynn

    September 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Unfortunately I do know what I’m talking about. Generally when properties are revalued (usually upwards) the rate of taxation decreases so that property tax revenues for the whole county do not increase automatically. The revaluation is usually “revenue neutral”.

    Usually after a revaluation there is a steep drop in the taxation rate. Because of a redistribution of values, some people may see their rates increase while others may see a decrease in a “revenue neutral” situation.

    It is a myth perpetuated by realtors that rising property values necessarily result in increased property tax revenue. County commissioners have to decide to increase the rate above the “revenue neutral” rate to deal with inflation and/or increased costs such as debt service on a bond.

    As I said above Based on spending of $36,200 reported on August 8th this represents reported spending of $22.58 per no vote, a new record This spending was reported by the Asheville Citizen Times.

    Additional spending above that amount is likely given that there was another three weeks from the last reporting date to the election date and because it is consistent with NC Realtor spending patterns in other counties such as in Orange County in May for mailings, phone calls, TV ads and print ads just prior to the referendum. I’ll confirm the final number after the final reports.

    Whether it’s $22.58 per vote or higher it’s still a lot of money.