Beaufort County, Blessed and Cursed
Among the medium to small populated counties in North Carolina, Beaufort County is blessed to have a huge, valuable, unique and un movable asset. It 's true value is in the billions and it is fully taxable as real property. Many counties have valuable assets that are much more risky because they can be moved to other locations or divided into parts.
Minerals are where you find them. There is nothing discretionary about deciding where to mine any mineral. We do not have gold, copper, nickel, iron or silver mines in Beaufort County because there are none of these metals present except in minor and trace amounts. These are all found at other locations on the earth. What we do have is phosphate. Phosphate is necessary to grow crops and for healthy bones in all mammals.
Our phosphate mine distinguishes us from all of the other non ocean front counties in eastern North Carolina. During 2019 it paid us $6,797,647 dollars in taxes in addition to providing about 1,000 jobs. We collected a total of about 35 million in property taxes. One in every 7 dollars came from the phosphate mine. This gives Beaufort County a distinct advantage. Without the phosphate mine our taxes would increase by 11 cents per 100 dollars or 14 percent. What a blessing.
Beaufort County has mismanaged this blessing and continues to do so. During the past 15 years the "progressive Republicans" have not only wasted the phosphate tax but have imposed additional sales sales taxes and raised property taxes almost every year.
We pour money into economic development every year, with little benefit. More companies would look at us if we had a lower tax rate and demonstrated .the good management of the phosphate tax money.
Our curse is that we have frittered away this abundance and now have a 41 million dollar school building program that is only half used. We built a bypass on the west side of Washington that did not create a single new developable intersection. A bypass east of Washington would have tied the south side of the Pamlico River to the north side and spurred economic development, helped the community college and public safety (EMS and Sheriff) immensely. Liberal RINO commissioners supported the destruction of the Belhaven hospital. They gutted the hospital trust fund and wasted the money on what?
All of these mistakes were made from the position of financial comfort brought on by having the huge tax payment from the phosphate mines. If we were as financially strapped as any other county in eastern North Carolina we could not have afforded to be this wasteful. My argument is that we have wasted the abundance given us by the phosphate mine taxes.
Because of the bad decisions and waste we as a county are no better off than any other county in eastern North Carolina. To put it another way "Show me the advantage of the taxes collected from the phosphate mines". Do we have significantly lower taxes than other counties? Do we have better and more infrastructure that is paid for?
The last 15 years of taxes from the phosphate mines comes to about sixty million dollars. What did we buy with it? Then there is all that high sales tax collected to say nothing of our increased property taxes.
We have a primary election for county commissioners coming up on March 3 of 2020. It is time to change the direction of government. Conservative Republicans have steadfastly fought against the big spenders and bad decision makers we have been electing. Give conservative Republicans a chance. What do you have to lose?
There is a conservative Republican slate of commissioner candidates who want to lower taxes, do away with unnecessary overtime that is enriching a few people, and make the EMS efficient.
Jerry Evans, a liberal RINO, who has voted for tax increases every year he has been in office, and John Rebholz, an untried new comer, who describes himself as a Buzzeo Republican. Ron Buzzeo was a liberal who helped destroy the Belhaven Hospital and gut the Beaufort County Hospital Trust fund. We do not need more of Evans, Rebholz or Buzzeo.