Tax bill paid in $1 bills and pennies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2011

By Mark Wineka
Emerging from his pickup this morning, Salisbury resident Charles Black held a white plastic bag full of money.
He intended to pay his 2010 property tax bill of $921.83 in cash — 921 $1 bills and 83 pennies.
“I am not going to make a big scene,” he promised before going into the Rowan County Tax Collector’s Office. “I just want to make my point.”
And that point was?
“People have to rake and scrape to pay their taxes” a dollar at a time — the way he did in 2010, Black said.
More to the point, he said, the city of Salisbury forcibly annexed the Westwood subdivision where he lives three years ago, and he and his neighbors have nothing to show for it, except property tax bills that have doubled.
Black said he’s not against paying his taxes, but “when someone makes you a bill, you want to see something for it.”
The only additional amenity the city has provided, Black said, is street lights. And the street lights were only installed after Black spent three weeks gathering the required number of names on a petition to ask for the lights.
Black, 62, is a state employee who hopes to retire in three months.
“If I can afford it,” he said.
He ran for Salisbury City Council in 2009 and plans to run again this year. Needless to say, he won’t run on a pro-annexation platform.
Inside, at the tax collection office, clerk Shelley Johnson called Black to her window, where he plopped down the stacks of ones, paper-clipped together in $25 and $50 piles.
His 83 pennies were in a plastic butter dish.
“Good morning, I’m here to pay my taxes,” Black announced.
Johnson hardly batted an eye and quickly arranged for the dollars to be tabulated with a counting machine in the back corner.
“It’s really immaterial how it gets paid,” Johnson said.
Black waited off to the side as the busy office continued serving all the taxpayers coming in on what was the last day to pay 2010 property taxes without incurring a penalty.
“Now we don’t have to get ones today at the bank,” an office supervisor said, looking at the bright side.
In about five minutes, the supervisor returned with the news that all $921 in ones were accounted for. Black said he knew they would be — he had counted out the money himself the day before.
Johnson returned his paper clips and his butter dish.
“Thank you, ladies,” Black said. “I’ve enjoyed this.”
His receipt said “Paid in full.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.