Darts and Laurels: Spencer must focus on basics

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dart to the politically charged environment in which Spencer finds itself.

Stoked by the departure of former Town Manager Terence Arrington, who made it known he wanted out but remained on the job, the state of affairs in Spencer has devolved into one where aldermen are debating with one another about state statutes pertaining to how bills should be paid.

And, the fact that the town is now without a permanent town manager and an important department head, Troy Powell, who accepted a job with the city of Greensboro, only makes things worse. Members of the town board are engaged in personal conflicts when they should be focused on finding a manager and filling staff positions.

Arrington’s departure may have been divisive, but it’s time to focus on what voters elected town board members to do ensuring the town is running OK.

Laurel to John Sofley, who’s helping the town of Spencer with its budget.

Sofley last week presented a budget that’s within 0.1 cents of a revenue neutral property tax rate, which is still technically a tax increase but closer than many local governments have come.

As many astute readers will point out, lowering the property tax rate is not necessarily a generic tax decrease. If a person’s home value increases, but the tax rate stays the same or only decreases slightly, he or she will likely have a more expensive tax bill.

Meanwhile, lowering taxes to a revenue-neutral rate doesn’t mean homeowners will pay less in taxes. The revenue-neutral rate is based on an average. If a single home’s value appreciated by a significant margin, even a several-cent decrease may not result in a property tax cut.

All local governments should strive for a revenue-neutral rate in a revaluation year in which property values are on the rise.

Laurel to the Salisbury City Council for looking for compromise amid conflict over  the conversion of a tennis court at Salisbury City Park to pickleball courts.

That tennis players might lose a place to play has prompted an outcry. Though pickleball players say their sport’s popularity outpaces tennis and is growing rapidly.

Ultimately, the city may judge that proceeding as planned is the best move. But there’s no harm in spending more time on the issue and seeing whether there’s a solution that’s cost-effective and satisfies both sides.