Gupton elaborates on city/county funding imbalance

Henderson City Council and FAIR Committee member Bobby Gupton presented the City Council with a spreadsheet yesterday that illustrated his view of the disparity of funding of joint city/county projects.

According to Gupton, the population of Henderson makes up 36% of the total population of Vance County; however, the city pays 76% of joint projects, from a taxpayer’s point of view.

According to Gupton, this arrangement is not in the best interest of City constituents.

Gupton told the council that the reason the County representatives (Commissioners Terry Garrison, Tommy Hester, and Tim Pegram) gave at the last Intergovernmental Meeting for the higher City tax burden is that the City was voluntarily incorporated in 1841.

Gupton stated that the higher City payments on the joint projects has nothing to do with services that the City offers to its residents, such as police, fire, sewer, or water.

The FAIR Committee member stated that the City is in crisis, and that water and sewer funding is a must. He said that the City would not have money for these needs if it continues to fund these other joint projects.

Gupton told the council that until the County could be brought to the table to renegotiate funding arrangements, nothing would change.

According to Gupton, the City owes $39 million.

“We borrow and spend and we don’t have it,” he said.

Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert offered two criticisms of Gupton’s remarks. The first was that a similar presentation made at the Intergovermental Meeting should have been approved by the full Council. Gupton agreed with the criticism.

The second critique offered by Seifert is that ad valorum taxes make up only 20 to 25% of City revenue. He stated that library funding, as an example, may come from sales tax revenue rather than property taxes.

$.03 of each dollar of valuation of City property tax is devoted to the library by city ordinance.

Seifert urged both sides, the City and the County, to compromise. He said that the City used to pay 65% of 911 costs, but by negotiation now funds the call center on a 50/50 basis.

Gupton pointed out to Seifert that the County has a $20 million fund balance. Seifert retorted that the balance is proportional to the county’s income, drawing a sharp comment of “What!” from Council Member Elissa Yount.

Seifert closed the discussion by stating that the Council needs to decide what its position needs to be and how to win that position.