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.