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Chatham County

Land transfer tax

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There's been plenty of debate about the proposed 0.4 percent tax on the sale of real estate that the N.C. General Assembly this year authorized local governments to enact—with voter approval. Realtors and homebuilders decried it as a "home tax" and fought it tooth and nail on Jones Street—and succeeded in getting it reduced from 1 percent. Supporters who see it as a more progressive alternative to raising revenue through increasing property taxes cried foul at the reduction, particularly because it meant that municipalities were excluded from the revenue stream.

But in Chatham County, where voters will face the ballot question Nov. 6, one thing is clear: The fast-growing county needs as much revenue as it can muster for building schools—first and foremost—and other infrastructure to support the exploding population.

County leaders estimate that the tax would generate $2.5 million in 2008-09, the equivalent of a 3.4-cent increase in the property tax. Under an agreement county commissioners struck, 85 percent would be reserved specifically for school needs—projected at roughly $2 million annually over the next several years. In addition, if the land transfer tax passes, commissioners have agreed to reduce the county's school impact fee on new construction from $2,900 to $1,900.

We support a For vote on this referendum.

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