Let’s talk taxes

Hey everyone. If we have met my name is Jonathan Carone and I’m running for city council this fall. 

Today I want to start a conversation about taxes. Fun times, right?

One of the things local candidates always run on is “keeping taxes as low as possible.” We’re in the sixth most conservative county in North Carolina. Saying you don’t want taxes to go up plays really well here. One of the reasons many of you love living here is because of the low taxes. In fact, one of the biggest reasons King is experiencing the growth we’re seeing is because of our low tax rate. 

King has some of the lowest taxes of any town in our area. That’s why people are leaving Forsyth County and moving up here. Our low taxes attract more people to our town.

But when you dive into our taxes and compare them to other towns who provide similar services to what our city provides, you see how much of a disparity we have compared to them. Take Kernersville for example. Our city services are almost identical to Kernersville – first responders, parks, trash service, etc – but their city tax rate is around 19% higher than ours.

Here’s the issue we’re facing: We can’t continue having taxes as low as they have been and still provide the amount of resources you’re accustomed to if we don’t bring in new revenue. This last year our city council raised taxes for the first time in eight years while also having to cut services they didn’t want to cut because we were trying to pay 2021 prices on 2014 income. 

The way we have been doing things is no longer sustainable. 

So here are your choices:

We keep doing things exactly as we have been, and in return you’ll see longer response times when you call 911 because we won’t be able to keep up with the growing demand for our first responders. Or our parks won’t be as nice because our staff will be stretched too thin. Or maybe we’ll have to cut support for that one thing you really love. 

Or we develop a plan to bring in new revenue so we can finance the things we need and want. The property taxes on new construction will help with that – but we have to have a plan for how and what gets built. Our current leadership is doing a solid job on this front. But we can’t stop there. We need other revenue streams.

If you’ve followed me at all, you know I believe liquor by the drink is the linch pin to our economic growth in town. It’s how we get new restaurants, new hotels, and new event spaces. Retail will follow after those as well. The sales tax on that money spent, the revenue from liquor sales, and the potential hotel tax will allow us to capture money from people who don’t live here so we can have them help pay for the things we need. That will lessen the burden on each of us who live in the city.

But here’s the honest truth: our growth could potentially require our tax rates to grow with inflation. We can’t go another eight years with no increases and then hit you with a giant one-time jump eight years from now. A small, managed increase will be easier to digest for all of us – if it comes to that.

No one wants to raise taxes – I certainly don’t – but we have to figure out a way to balance our needs with what we bring in financially.

Our choices have consequences. If we choose low taxes, we can’t expect a ton of resources from the city. That’s a consequence of that choice. If we choose to have a lot of resources – police, fire, parks and rec, things to do, all that stuff – we have to find a way to finance it. I’m all ears on what those new sources of revenue could be because I believe your ideas could be just as good as mine. I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas.

If we choose not to bring in new revenue, the consequence will be city services not being fully funded or potentially being cut and I don’t think any of us want that.

King is growing up. We’re going through the growing pains of every town who has ever experienced what we’re currently experiencing. It will be hard. There’s no silver bullet solution. It’s going to take all of us working together to build King’s future.

As a city councilman, it’s not about the choice I want. My job would be to represent what you want. That’s a choice you have to make, but continuing to try and have both low taxes with high resources – while not bringing in new revenue – is no longer sustainable. 

You deserve to know the truth of where we are so you can make an informed decision on who you think should lead us through these transitions. If I am one of those people – great! I hope you vote for me this fall. If I’m not someone you can trust to build kings future – I respect that too and ask you to vote for two of the other five candidates. Ultimately, I just want you to vote. 

Thanks for watching and I hope you have a great day.