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Privilege tax hotly debated in Raleigh

The business privilege tax that local governments levy could be on its way out.
In his most recent legislative newsletter, N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, reported that the Revenue Laws Study Committee on which he serves recently looked at draft legislation “that would limit a city’s ability to impose a local business privilege tax and eliminate a county’s ability to do so altogether.”
Warren reports:
“Under current law, cities have wide latitude in imposing a local business privilege tax whereas counties’ authority to do so is severely limited. …
“This was by far the most hotly debated proposal of the meeting. Most legislators agreed that the system needs to be reformed in some manner. Many legislators argued that the current system is too complex and that cities have overreached with imposing the tax in some instances.
“However, numerous legislators highlighted the fiscal impact of the proposal on municipalities and the possibility that municipalities may need to raise property taxes or other fees in order to make up for that impact.”
The committee OK’d the proposal for a uniform flat tax. That would eliminate differences across the state — something the small business sector applauds. The tax would be capped at $100 a year.
If the change is approved, Charlotte stands to lose about $8 million in revenue, and Raleigh about $3.4 million, in fiscal year 2015-16, according to NFIB.com.
Rowan County’s 10 municipalities would also be affected.
N.C. Sen. Gene McLaurin, D-Rockingham, reports being pleasantly surprised by the turnout for his first Young Leaders Advisory Council meeting in Wadesboro. McLaurin, who represents five counties including Rowan, expected about a dozen participants from around the district but drew more than 40, he reported in his legislative newsletter.
The group discussed several topics, including teacher pay, he said.
“One example given by an educator at the meeting was that of a local teacher who could take a similar position in South Carolina where she could make about $9,000 more each year. It is simply unacceptable for North Carolina teacher compensation to be so far behind. In NC we need to set our sights on being #1 in education and make sure our policies and state budget reflect our priorities and our values.”
Dr. Ada Fisher of Salisbury has been hitting the Republican speaker’s circuit.
Fisher, a former member of the local school board and currently the state party’s National Republican Committeewoman, spoke at the Pender County GOP’s Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner on April 10.
Fisher “noted we must be about an atmosphere which encourages and supports small businesses,” said a press release she sent out.
She also talked about political events, family, her recent stroke and “the Republican imperative to lead, capturing constitutional principles and human compassion.”
Phil Berger, state Senate leader, recently announced committee changes, including one involving a legislator from Davidson County.
Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican from Denton, was named co-chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural and Economic Resources, joining Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie.
All five candidates in the Republican primary for Rowan County commissioner have been invited to a forum during the Republican Men’s Breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 3, reports John Leatherman, county party chairman.
Meanwhile, Livingstone College has a forum scheduled for Friday, April 25, starting at 9:45 a.m. in Tubman Little Theatre on the college campus, 701 W. Monroe St.
Here’s the schedule:
• 10 a.m. — Candidates for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House (Districts 5 and 12
• 11:50 a.m. — Candidates for other offices may introduce themselves
• Noon — Candidates for Rowan County Commission
The primary is May 6. Look for a story in Sunday’s Post about early voting times and places.

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