PINEHURST PROPERTY TAX RATE SHOULD BE LOWER!!
“I believe we can maintain our quality of life, manage any responsible growth and provide the basic municipal services in a cost-effective manner that leaves more money in the pockets of our taxpayers—than in the coffers of our government.”
- Pizzella Statement of Candidacy, July 7, 2023
For fiscal year 2024 the Village of Pinehurst lowered its property tax rate, but most residents are still paying more to the village than they did last year. Pinehurst is projected to grow its balance of unspent funds to over $21 million dollars----That’s 71% of the Villages’ operating budget & more than twice the 30% minimum set in the Village fund balance policy.
I believe the Village of Pinehurst is accumulating far too much money in its safety reserve fund and more of it should have been used to reduce the tax rate for every property owner in Pinehurst.
Part of the problem is a policy we have that requires our safety reserve fund be a minimum of 30-40% every year. The Moore County policy is 17%; the Southern Pines Policy is 25%; and the Financial Government Officers Association best practice is 25%.
In addition to that, we regularly underestimate the revenues we receive and over-estimate our expenses—not an uncommon practice--but a contributing factor to our large amount of unspent funds. We don’t have a safety net under our Village budget—we have a hammock!
The Village government has only one way into your pocketbook—through the property tax rate the Council sets every year. The legislature in Raleigh sets the corporate rate, the gas tax, the income tax and the sales tax. If we lowered the property tax rate by just a penny more it would have required us to reduce the balance of $21.2 million dollars in unspent funds by just $600,000 dollars.
When the politicians say they we can’t afford a tax cut, maybe we can’t afford the politicians.
The 5-year Strategic Operating Plan (SOP) is not etched in stone—it continually changes (and that is not unusual) For example:
A projected .33 cent property tax rate one year and two years later we adopt a .23 cent rate;
A $4.5 million-dollar downtown parking garage listed for several years---gone this year;
A $1.7 million special fire truck purchase for FY27—suggested in one year, then gone the next year and then reappears the following year;
One year we are debt financing the new library & archives expansion---the next we are paying for it in cash;
One year we are including a million dollars for study of West Pinehurst Park expansion, the next year we push that out several more years.
Since all these decisions involve Pinehurst residents’ tax money we need a careful review of the capital priorities with input from our residents. The council needs to hear from the citizens as SOP’s are adjusted and modified.
Nobel Prize winning Professor Milton Friedman: “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” It is a statement worth considering.