Maybe you support raising taxes in New Bern, Maybe you don’t. Regardless of where you stand on the topic we now know where two of the candidates for the Board of Alderman stand on the issue.
Sabrina Bengel and Rick Prill are the Candidates for New Bern Board of Alderman Ward 1, and participated in a candidate forum at the Twin River YMCA. Both candidates took very opposite positions on taxes.
Candidate Rick Prill stated that “Taxes need to go up” when answering a question about the raising costs of paying for city staff and services. Prill suggested that increasing taxes on New Bern residents was necessary or that the quality of city services could decrease.
Prill stated to the audience “all of you are intelligent enough to realize that taxes need to go up”.
Prill did not specifically state how high he would be willing to raise taxes but indicated that they should being going up moderately stating “I’m not talking about huge increases but incremental increases to try and keep pace with the cost of goods, the cost of services, the cost of everything that local government has to deal with”
Current Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel had a different approach. Bengel stated that the way to confront the raising cost on city services was to expand the tax base, not by increasing taxes. This is something that Bengel and the other current members of the Board of Alderman have been doing exceptionally well.
So what does Bengel mean by expand the tax base?
Expanding the tax base means more people paying taxes on property. You get that by creating smart growth across the city. New Bern has experienced smart growth, despite some out there trying to claim otherwise.
Some recent examples of how the City of New Bern expanded the tax base include massive single family home construction in Ward 3, a new apartment complexes outside Carolina Colors and numerous other residential construction. We have also had growth in commercial properties. Examples include the new Harris Teeter Complex and adjacent shopping center in Ward 6. There are currently millions of dollars in future tax revenue generating residential and commercial property still being constructed right now.
Bengel also point out that new properties aren’t the only thing that generates more tax revenue without raising taxes. Increases in property values also results in more tax revenue. The property values in the City of New Bern continue to increase every year generating more and more tax revenue for the city. Property Values are going up because the quality of life in New Bern is going up. That doesn’t happen unless the city is providing proper services and a high quality of life. The city has accomplished this without raising taxes.
All of the smart growth and expansion of the tax base created under the current Board of Alderman actually creates a possibility to lower property taxes while still providing increases to city services. This is because projected tax revenue will most likely be higher than the projected funds needed to fund city functions.
It is also important to note who would be most impacted by higher taxes.
Raising taxes always impacts lower income families and senior citizens the most. Renters do not pay taxes the owners of the property do. When the property tax’s go up the property owner will usually increase the rent on the tenant. Business will increase the cost of goods to cover the tax increase. Small businesses who already struggle to compete against large chain stores on price will have no choice but increase costs on their customers. All of these increases on the cost-of-living results in more people needing government assistance including affordable housing which New Bern already needs more of. As more people utilize government assistance the more need for additional tax revenue at the state and federal level is needed.