This blog,originally founded by Blogger, who is listed in Marquis Who's Who and is a recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. He holds a theological degree and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology. Taught Psychology for 32 years and is now Professor Emeritus. Is a board-certified psychologist and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in his profession. Ministered as a chaplain, and pastored Baptist and Episcopal churches. Publications cover the integration of psychology and theology. Served in the Army, the Merchant Marines and the Peace Corps.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Boone VS Watauga county! .... ... .. NOW Boone wants to "make nice".....

A month or two back, the Boone town council had scheduled 2 meetings ...one on Tuesday, the other on Thursday. One of the items to be discussed was the proposed changes to the UDO as "suggested" by the Affordable Housing Task Force and rubber stamped by the town's "Planning Commission". At that time, the county commission had already scheduled a public hearing on another matter and would thus be unable to attend the town council's Tuesday meeting and offer county input BEFORE the council voted on the "affordable" housing changes. (see our previous article: "Boone to County, SCREW YOU!)

County Commissioner Nathan Miller, wrote a very reasonable request to the town council that they delay the discussion on the housing changes until their Thursday meeting. Mr. Miller explained the County's previously scheduled public hearing would require his attendance and thus he would not be able to attend a Tuesday meeting. Mr Miller simply asked for a 2 day delay to the next ALREADY SCHEDULED town
meeting so that he could present the county's views.

The town's response? They ignored the request and passed their ordnance changes at the Tuesday meeting. Apparently their proposed changes were too urgent to wait 2 more days - or, for that matter, to wait for the housing study that they themselves had commissioned before making the decision to impose their views on hat the marketplace "needed".

Subsequently, the Watauga County Commissioners began looking at the way sales tax revenues were being distributed in Watauga county. They found (of course) that Boone has long been the beneficiary of a system which rewards Boone based largely on it's student population who are living in dorms which pay no property taxes. While Boone benefits from this approach, the other municipalities in Watauga county are short changed and receive significantly less than what they would receive under an ad valorem based allocation.

Now, seeing the handwriting on the wall, the Town of Boone has undertaken a PR campaign - complete with Press releases and letters to be mailed to Watauga citizens. NOW, Boone wants to "mediate" the matter.

Wouldn't it have been easier to have postponed their discussion from their Tuesday meeting to their Thursday meeting and given BOC Chairman Nathan Miller an opportunity to present his case BEFORE they made their decision?????


18 comments:

Rick said...

I come here from time to time but have never posted before. I agree with you on a lot of this but the commissioners didn't want to change their meeting and neither did the town want to change theirs. I don't think we can complain that the town didn't change their meeting when we weren't willing to change ours. I'm a Republican who lives in Boone and I got the letter today. I consider myself pretty moderate and don't like the pettiness on either side. The letter was actually not bad and came off as pretty reasonable with one exception in the language. I don't know if everything in the letter was true or not and really don't even care anymore. I feel I speak for a lot of others when I say we should just find a solution to this and move on. I think that would be the right thing to do so I hope the county meets with the town and takes care of whatever the problem is with developing the property.

NewGuy said...

Rick, thanks for your thoughtful post. We hope you will continue to contribute here.

I don't want to split hairs with you, but I do have to point out that the county meeting was actually a public hearing that had been advertised for that date. The town meeting, on the other hand, was one of two meetings that they had scheduled that week. They had reported that they would discuss the issue at one of the two meetings. Miller simply asked them to discuss it at the Thursday meeting when he could be there.

Doesn't sound like an unreasonable request to me - AND< it certainly should have (at the very least) received an acknowledgment!

Rick said...

Thank you for the welcome. Whoever said what when or didn't meet when or thought their meeting was the most important doesn't matter to me or most of the people I know. No one can even keep up with all that anymore. The Town has made an offer to meet. The commissioners should take them up on it. Settle it and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

HOW MANY LETTERS DID THE TOWN MAIL OUT? AT WHAT COST TO BOONE TAXPAYERS?

NewGuy said...

There are more stakeholders here than just Boone residents. Every dollar allocated to Boone is one less dollar allocated to the other municipalities and the unincorporated areas. I'm willing to bet that the town of Blowing Rock collects a lot more in sales taxes than it receives back under the current method of allocation! B

A copy of Mayor Clawson's letter can be found here:.
http://www2.wataugademocrat.com/attachments/2013/04/wajfuLetter_to_Boone_residents.pdf

Leaving aside the question of whether or not the ordinances would provide "affordable housing" as she says....Does the tone of the letter suggest an effort at reconciliation?






guy faulkes said...

Ms. Clawson is correct in that the citizens of Boone are alps residents of Watauga County. This is a somewhat inane point because the citizens of the other municipalities that also reside in Watauga County are citizens of both that particular municipality and Watauga county.

The point that no property tax is gained from the large portion of the student population that lives on campus is much more relevant. There is little income even from property tax on their automobiles.

These students are the principle reason that the sales tax distribution is so heavily biased in favor of the Town of Boone. If it were not for these "nonresident" residents, the other municipalities would receive a more equatable share of these revenues, even under the present system.

This might cold be said of others that rent, but their numbers pale when compared to the student population.

NewGuy said...

The locals who run the Boone town governmentare trying so hard to prevent more student housing from coming to be - yet, they love counting on campus students as part of the Boone population in order to gain an advantage in sales tax distribution. Switching to an ad valorem basis would balance some of that out.

Oh yeah....they love those students at election time to! When they pander to them for a month or two and, with the help of the liberal faculty, lead them to the voting booths!

Perhaps some of those students will wise up in this year's town elections. Certainly if the Boone town residents have to pay increased taxes because of the actions of their current town council, they will be taking a closer look at bringing some new blood in to replace this bunch!

Rick said...

I admit to being concerned about the loss of $2 million in Boone since I live in Boone and will be directly affected. You mention the students living in town but this is a loss of sales tax not property tax revenues. The many, many students you mention are spending most of those sales taxes in Boone and Boone is using them for police, trash pickup etc. I think it is more likely Boone voters will blame the County than the town if the revenue is lost but it really doesn't matter. Even people who do not live in town work here, shop here, eat here. Everyone will be affected if the streets aren't cleaned and the trash isn't picked up. While I generally vote my ticket, I am not a political partisan on this issue. I will vote against anyone who votes to take the $2 million away regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats. I am hoping saner heads can prevail.

guy faulkes said...

Rick, people that live in Boone also work, shop, and eat other places. Sales tax revenue goes into the general fund after it is dispersed, as you mentioned. They can benefit other places also.

Thank you for admitting you are looking out for your self interest, as this method is of the most benefit to you. That being said, how can you blame others for doing the same if they feel the other method is of more benefit to them.

Killing the sale of the old high school property would hurt every Watauga County tax payer.
Also other communities would benefit from using the other system. Not everyone lives in Boone.

NewGuy said...

Why would Boone cut essential services? Wouldn't it be smarter to stop spending on lawsuits against a developer who wanted to build a medical office on a lot ZONED for a medical office? How much have they spent on this issue?
How much did they spend on buying a movie theater? How much on the Post Office building?The sidewalk to the mayors house? The housing study they commissioned but decided not to wait for when they passed their recent list of restrictions on builders? How much did it cost to mail this letter to 14,000 plus people? (not to mention the staff time and incidental expenses related to it?)

Boone has taken a lesson from Obama....apply the sequestor cuts where it will cause the most public outcry! Stop White House tours for citizens but continue to spend BILLIONS on family vacations and golf outings with Tiger Woods.

If the Boone voters accept a reduction in essential services in order for the Town Council to continue funding their pet projects, then they deserve whatever they get!

As Guy Faulkes has said, Rick...I don't blame you for voting your pocketbook! Remember though, when the Boone town elections come up, it was largely the actions of the current town council that brought us to this point!

Rick said...

I don't disagree that Boone could have spent its money differently although I do personally support some of their projects. A lot of other people do too. Most I've talked with are glad the PO and the movie theater were saved as examples. Regardless, if they are out $2 million they will have no choice but to cut some services. It's simple math. They only have an overall budget of around $20 million if I remember correctly and I might not remember correctly. I wish all the lawsuits would stop too but I, like most people, hold both sides accountable for them. I don't know anything about a housing study but from what I read in the newspaper I thought the sidewalk plan looked pretty good. Again, I like some things and not others which makes me pretty typical I think. But I do get really tired of all the namecalling and personal attacks on both sides.

Anne-Marie Yates said...

Rick, when thinking with your pocketbook, remember that the planned development for the old high school property as well as any redevelopment of many other properties around the town of Boone, would add substantially to the coffers of both the town and the county through property tax, sales tax, and jobs for folks from all over the county. Not only this but also the increase in tourism which brings us more dollars. This in turn allows for more services at all levels of government and makes life better for all citizens. As it is now, with the regulations passed by the Town of Boone, from Steep Slope, View shed, watershed "Affordable" Housing Section 175, we are living in a town of continuing dilapidation. As a life long citizen of both Boone and Watauga it saddens me that our beautiful community is scarred by property that is not allowed to be developed because of over regulation and short sightedness of our current council.

Rick said...

Mrs. Yates. I appreciate your comments and can see your perspective, but I think there's one important point you missed. The Town of Boone is a separately governed entity from the County. It is allowed by North Carolina law to make it's own ordinances and to pass it's own resolutions and to establish it's own boards and operate in many other ways independent of the County. The residents of the Town elect their own government. I agree that in regards to the old high school property the County has a strong interest in seeing it sold. But the County does not have the right to impose most of the wishes or theologies of those who live outside the Town onto Town residents. Your response reads as though you believe otherwise. I do not. I am a believer in local governance (even if it's not the one I personally voted for and it frequently is not). The County should stay out of the town business and the the town should stay out of County business. I realize the old high school property is one of those situations where both have interests. But instead of carping at each other, the two governments should simply sit down like reasonable adults and try hard to reach an agreement. That is what is truly in the best interests of everyone.

Anonymous said...

Miller is going to bring the entire Republican ticket down.

NewGuy said...

Rick, you make some good points, but you should also mention that it is the county's "business" to allocate sales tax revenue. Considering your point that the "town should stay out of the county's business"....should we just consider the matter closed?

You also make the point that "the County does not have the right to impose most of the wishes or theologies of those who live outside the Town onto Town residents."......Can we assume that you would believe the reverse of that to also be true? And that you would support abolishment of the ETJ on the basis of the town shouldn't be imposing it's wishes on those who live outside the town?

Thanks again Rick, for your contributions to this page! It's a pleasure to see a discussion on a controversial subject where no one resorts to personal attacks on other posters!

guy faulkes said...

As with any political decision, changing the manner in which sales tax is distributed helps some and hurts others. In this case it helps those municipalities that do not have a large student population which pays no property tax. It would relieve some of the burden on those residents that in those municipalities that do pay such taxes as the property tax rate might then be lowered.

It is certainly possible for the county to overcome any shortfall by reducing county funding to municipalities that gain in sales tax revenue.

The only loss is to the one municipality that gets the benefit of having a large on campus student residency to bolster their population numbers.

Boone has had the advantage for many years. Maybe it is time for the other method to be used to make things more equitable for the rest of the county, irregardless of the sale of the old high school property.

Rick said...

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind and answer your questions. Yes, as I said earlier I believe the county should stay out of the town's business and vice versa. As for ETJ, I believe the people of the ETJ should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to stay or leave. I do not believe this a decision for the county nor the town to make on their behalf. I can see that people in the ETJ have perhaps bought into the area because they want property protections. I can also see that there are those who do not want the property protections and who resent that they are included. There should therefore be a vote of the the people in ETJ areas to decide for themselves whether they want to stick with ETJ or leave it. It is not the business of the County Commissioners nor the Town of Boone to make that decision for them. They and they alone should get to vote on it. As I understand it and perhaps I dont, it is entirely up to the County to decide how the sales tax is distributed. So yes it is their decision. However, it is quite unseemly to use the sales tax distribution as a hostage for getting the towns to behave in a certain way. This is commonly known in my circles as extortion. The sales tax distribution and the old high school property sale should be two different matters and settled on their own individual merits. If the County wants to re-distribute the sales tax, they should approach this topic differently, separately and in a professional way, not cutting deals with one town against another and not for extortion.

Anonymous said...

Wow that sounds a lot like the same comments made by Casey Miller in the HCPress. Casey we didn't know you go by Rick too.