Paying less is good for city, citizens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Joanie Morris

Kannapolis Citizen

According to the Raleigh-based Center for Local Innovation, a division of the John Locke Foundation, Kannapolis taxpayers should be pretty happy right about now.

The city ranks 27th among 29 large cities in North Carolina — and that’s not a bad thing.

The list is of cities with at least 25,000 residents, comparing the combined city and county costs (including fees and taxes) per resident. Only Goldsboro and Burlington ranked below Kannapolis. Charlotte, Wilmington, Asheville, Durham and Chapel Hill rounded out the top five with the most money spent by taxpayers.

Kannapolis residents paid $1,219 for services per person in 2005. Charlotte topped the list with citizens paying $2,113 for services per resident.

Eddie Smith, assistant city manager for Kannapolis, said the numbers solidify what city staffers have known all along.

“It’s certainly wonderful to know that the city of Kannapolis is providing a great value to the residents for the services we provide,” Smith said. “It’s always a difficult balance between citizen’s needs and desires and the necessary services required to improve quality of life and public safety.”

Smith said the low numbers are not a one-man-show, but a team effort.

“We’re proud of our professional staff and ability to make responsible recommendations that allow us to operate as one of North Carolina’s quality cities,” Smith said.

Other cities in the area fared in about the middle on the list. Salisbury ranked 15th on the list with citizens paying $1,629; Concord ranked 17th with citizens paying $1,554 per resident.

However, Cabarrus County ranked higher than the state median rate of taxes and fees as a share of income with citizens averaging 4.89 percent. The state average is 4.55 percent. Rowan County had an average of 4.51 percent.

Data was compiled for the study by Michael Lowrey, policy analyst, from data available from the State Treasurer, Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

According to the study, property taxes alone consumed 2.26 percent of personal income in 2005, or about $563 per person. The range was $1,425 per person in Dare County to $271 per person in Swain County. North Carolina collected more than $17.8 billion in state taxes and fees from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005 — a rate of 7 percent of the personal income of state residents. Local governments collected an additional $12.4 billion in property, sales and other taxes and fees. That’s another 4.8 percent average of income.

The full study is available at the John Locke Foundation Web site, www.johnlocke.org.

Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@kannapoliscitizen.com.

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