Most at hearing OK with county tax hike

Published 9:43 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

COURTLAND—Boykins’ Raechell Ferrante supports the Southampton County supervisors’ plan to give 2 percent raises to county and school employees, even if it means a 3.8 percent increase in property taxes.

Richard Harris of Courtland thinks differently.

“With the given economic conditions of the county, I do resent that the board is proposing an increase,” Harris said during a Monday public hearing for the $52.3 million 2011-2012 draft budget. “You sit here seemingly oblivious to what goes on outside your county, and I have yet to find out what I’m receiving for what I’m paying.”

Of the more than 350 people attending the hearing at Southampton High School, about 80 percent stood in favor of the budget, which is $215,000 less than the 2010-2011 spending plan. The budget includes an extra $130,553 requested by the school board on top of the county’s $10.7 million allocation for the school’s $26.4 million budget.

If the county budget is approved during the supervisors’ meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 23, a resident with a property assessed at $100,000 who currently pays $790 in real estate taxes can expect to pay $30 more.

The proposed pay increases will cost the county $335,605. The last pay raises were given in 2008.

Several spoke on behalf of the school district, including Sonya Cromwell, whose children attend her alma mater — Capron Elementary School.

“I ask you to support the vision for the future of our children to have the very best it requires,” Cromwell said.

Lifelong county resident Susan Fowler also supports the budget.

“You get out what you put in,” Fowler said.

Trish Edwards, who serves on the board for Riverdale Elementary School PTA, said her two boys have received nothing but the best education here.

“A cut in funding will lessen education services to a system that cannot handle it,” Edwards said.

Speaking on behalf of Citizens for Responsible Government, William Gillette noted that even with the proposed 25 percent real estate tax increase in Isle of Wight County, Southampton County property owners would still pay $140 more for properties of equal value.

“Taxes kill innovation in the private sector to produce jobs,” Gillette said. “The taxpayers here are encouraging you to think a little different. The county needs to reassess its needs.”

Harris proposed Southampton County consolidate with Franklin.

“No marriage is perfect, and it can be made to work,” he said. “I’ve had just about all I can stand, nor can I pay for anymore of your government.”