City may raise vehicle tax
Every High Point resident who owns a vehicle could see a yearly tax go from $5 to $20 under a proposal being considered by the City Council.
The city will seek authority from the state to increase its municipal vehicle tax up to $15 to pay for street resurfacing, sidewalk construction and other transportation improvements.
The N.C. General Assembly must authorize the increase, which would generate an estimated $1.1 million in additional money for the city to use for these purposes. The council would have to approve the increase for it to take effect.
The city has a lengthy backlog of deteriorating streets that need repaving, and officials said it would cost several million dollars to fix all of them. It has cut back funding for resurfacing in recent years due to tight budgets, and funds are expected to be limited in the future. The city also has several million dollars worth of potential sidewalk projects, but limited funding.
“We’re way behind on street resurfacing, and one of the priorities different council members have raised, and citizens did too, is that we need to do more for sidewalks,” said City Manager Strib Boynton. “The reality is, without some alternatives like this, sidewalks, resurfacing and public transportation are going to slip even more.”
High Point currently assesses a $5 annual tax on every vehicle in the city. This tax will generate an estimated $370,000 this budget year and is used to help fund Hi tran, the city’s bus system.
Cities have the ability to tax vehicles up to $10 without local legislation. Some were authorized by the legislature to impose higher taxes, including Winston-Salem ($20), Charlotte ($20) and Raleigh ($25). State law limits to $30 the amount cities can tax for this purpose.
Officials said they expect the legislature will grant High Point the authority for the higher taxes.
“We don’t have to actually put it into effect. We just have it at our disposal if we need it,” said Councilman Jason Ewing.
The city has $1 million for street resurfacing and about $300,000 for sidewalks in the current budget. Officials said this will only pay for a relatively small amount of work.
“We’re way behind. You can just drive around town and see how far behind we are,” Boynton said.