Watauga County, three towns ask N.C. Supreme Court to reject Boone’s tax challenge | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    Watauga County and three of its towns urge the N.C. Supreme Court to reject Boone's request to take up a dispute involving local sales taxes.

    Boone is trying to drag the state's highest court into a "messy, local political squabble," according to a document filed Tuesday with the state's highest court.

    "This lawsuit by the Town of Boone and one of its residents alleges in sensationalistic fashion that Watauga County and the Towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, and Seven Devils engaged in an 'illegal sales tax distribution scheme,'" according to the court filing. "The reality, however, as the complaint reveals, is that this case amounts to a local political debate going back 35 years."

    The dispute focuses on Watauga County commissioners' decision about whether to split local sales tax revenue on a "per capita" basis focusing on population or an "ad valorem" basis focusing on local tax values. State law gives counties the choice of either option.

    "As the Plaintiffs acknowledged in their complaint, Watauga County's decision of which distribution method to adopt has been the subject of political discourse for decades," according to the filing from Watauga County, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, and Seven Devils. "From 1987 until 2013, Watauga County chose the per capita method. During these years, Beech Mountain and Blowing Rock 'petitioned the Watauga County Commissioners on several occasions to change the local sales tax distribution to the ad valorem method,' because it would 'greatly benefit those communities.' But they were unsuccessful. So for 25 years, Beech Mountain and Blowing Rock lost the political debate, while Boone repeatedly emerged as the political winner."

    "In 2013, however, the County decided that it was time for other municipalities in Watauga County to enjoy the benefits that Boone had enjoyed for so long, and it changed the method of distribution to ad valorem," the filing continued. "Significantly, the County's decision meant that those benefits would extend to the County's local fire districts, which do not receive sales tax allocations under the per capita method but do receive distributions under the ad valorem method - a worthy cause that the County considered in its legislative judgment. ... So after 25 years of the local fire districts getting nothing, the Watauga County Commissioners in their legislative discretion decided that their local fire districts should receive some distributions, too."

    Watauga and the three towns contend Boone was "[f]rustrated that its 25-year streak as the political winner had come to an end." After failing to reverse county commissioners' decision, Boone took the issue to court.

    "To be sure, 'local political squabbles' - in particular, 'messy' ones - are meant to be resolved at the ballot box, not in a courtroom," according to Tuesday's filing. "When Boone failed in its attempts at political persuasion, however, it left its ballot-box remedy behind, and, instead, sought to foist this 'messy, local political squabble' on the judicial branch."

    Watauga County and the three towns also accuse Boone of violating legal rules. Boone changed its arguments from the trial court level when it took its lawsuit to the N.C. Court of Appeals, according to Tuesday's filing. A unanimous three-judge appellate panel rejected Boone's case.

    The latest court filing arrives two weeks after Boone filed paperwork asking the Supreme Court to take the case.

    Boone argues that county commissioners adopted an illegal "kickback system" in 2013 that costs Boone $2 million each year.

    "This case raises the question whether any town or taxpayer can question county and municipal misconduct when the violations of law are causing millions of dollars of damage," wrote attorneys representing Boone and resident Marshall Ashcraft.

    Boone contends that the system in place since 2013 amounts to neither a "per capita" nor an "ad valorem" system. Instead, Boone argues that the three other towns surrender to the county government some of the gains they would make under an "ad valorem" system. Boone contends that the arrangement violates state law.

    There is no deadline for the state Supreme Court to decide whether to take the case.
Go Back


Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )




Aetna awarded State Health Plan contract, ousting Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Carolina Journal, Statewide, Editorials, Government, Op-Ed & Politics, State and Federal State fights lawsuits involving school bus accidents during COVID-19 meal deliveries


HbAD0

Latest State and Federal

A federal agency under the Biden Administration walked back comments it made earlier in the week that it was considering a ban on gas stoves in new construction or as a replacement product, citing concerns that the appliances may cause a rise in respiratory illnesses.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that a North Korea-associated hacking group had carried out a robbery of $100 million in cryptocurrency last year.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will host a Spanish-language Cafecito and tele-town hall on Tuesday, Jan. 31, from 6 to 7 p.m. to discuss the following:
Though the national media often fails to give them attention, state tax reforms are underway across the country.
Gov. Roy Cooper is upset that North Carolina House Republicans might amend a rule regarding overriding governor vetoes.
Gov. Roy Cooper's latest executive order bans TikTok and WeChat from state government computers and mobile phones.

HbAD1

On Thursday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) submitted a 14-page formal protest to Sam Watts, acting administrator of the State Health Plan, opposing the award of the plan’s 2025-27 third-party administrator contract to Aetna.
A performance audit released Thursday by North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood’s office regarding the North Carolina Medical Board raises concerns for patient safety across the state.
To meet the law’s requirements of being least-cost while maintaining grid reliability, the Utilities Commission’s initial “Carbon Plan” sees natural gas as a “bridge fuel” until sufficient zero-emissions resources “are available and can replace at scale what gas contributes to the system”
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein's challenge against a state criminal libel law from the 1930s could extend into the summer or beyond. New court paperwork sets out tentative dates for further legal action.
Private election administration funding, or “Zuck bucks,” influenced the outcome of some races in the 2020 election in North Carolina
Members of the North Carolina Senate were sworn into office Wednesday, marking the beginning of the 2023 long session for the state legislature.

HbAD2


HbAD3

 
Back to Top