Opinion: Dividing the pie

by Elissa Yount

We all remember as children how our parents kept the peace by letting one child divide the pie and the other child have first choice.

When our municipal government lets the county divide the pie and then lets the county have the choice of taking the first piece, they take 75% of the entire pie. If we were children, we would never stand for this unfair treatment. So, why are we standing for it as city taxpayers and good citizens?

There seems to be a learning curve disability among some people when this is explained. Let’s use this example: Your church decides to buy a church parsonage, and the cost is $200,000. The deacons decide that the group of people who sit on the right hand side of the church will be responsible for paying $150,000, and the people who sit on the left hand side of the church will pay $50,000, but you will all own the property equally. Then your church decides to buy a car for the minister. Again, the people on the right have to pay $15,000, and the people on the left only have to pay $5,000, but all your names go on the gift as equal partners. Finally, your church decides to build a youth center. The folks on the right are required to pay $600,000, and the folks on the left only have to pay $200,000.

You are saying that this is crazy — I would not stand for it. Some would say, why don’t you just move to the left of the church or move out of that church altogether? Indeed, some of us in the city have been told to move into the county if we do not like the unfair taxes we are asked to pay for the library, recreation, aquatics, 911, airport, and economic development. Telling us to move is a ridiculous solution. Most of us were invested here long before these contracts were made. It is way past time to correct these unfair contracts so it will be advantageous for us all to live here.

Let’s look at the taxes of a city dweller. You decide the fairness issue. We all pay county taxes at the same rate. So far, that is fair for everyone who lives anywhere in Vance County. City folks also pay the yearly $90 land fill fee. Then we pay $27 each and every month for garbage, recycling, and yard waste disposal. We pay this even though we have already paid our county taxes that pay for the collection stations throughout the county. We could take all our trash to the stations because we are paying for them, but why do this when we are required to pay the sanitation fee if we have city water? Yes, we pay a water and sewer bill on top of this. Finally, we pay our city taxes annually.

No one in the county pays for our police, but everyone in the city pays for the sheriff. No one in the county pays for Henderson’s city manager and administration, but everyone in the city pays for the county manager and administration. No one in the county pays for our city elections, but the city pays for this every year even though we only have an election every other year. No one in the county pays for our street lights, our sidewalks or our paved streets, even though people in the county benefit from them. Logically, we must agree that no one in the county is paying unfairly or unequally for their services, and no one in the county ever pays for any of the services in the city.

So, why should the city taxpayer (remember that person sitting on the right hand side of the church?) pay way more than a equal share for the library, recreation, 911, aquatics center, the airport, and now for economic development? The fact is that the city taxpayer pays 84.43% of the Aycock Recreation Complex; 82.14% of the Aycock Aquatics Center; 79.94% of the 911 Center; and 66% of the contribution to the airport has never been refuted. In addition, the city taxpayers have spent far more than $2 million on the library complex which the county uses at no capital cost. In addition, the city taxpayer still pays 66% of the operating costs annually.

These pies were never divided fairly, and it is time for an accounting. More next week on what the city taxpayer can do to see that the pies are divided equally and that the folks on both sides of the church can stay in the church and be treated justly.