In an op-ed column in the N&O today, Ellis Hankins, who leads the North Carolina League of Municipalities, takes on the Sprawl Lobby and the Realtor Ticks with a clear and convincing argument.
RALEIGH - Don't underestimate the influence of the Realtors in the legislative debate about transfer taxes. They gave $600,000 to lawmakers last year. They've targeted advertising in home districts of legislators. "It's scaring the heck out of a lot of them," said state Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird. "The reality is the Realtors scuttled the [budget] agreement," said Rep. Paul Luebke.
The Realtors are doing all of this to keep North Carolinians from having the right to vote on a local transfer tax that has been used in some counties to lower or hold down property taxes and improve infrastructure.
Which raises this question: Did YOU vote to put Tim Kent and the Realtors in charge of North Carolina public policy? I know I didn't. In fact, I don't recall them even being on the ballot.
Local governments and the state will not be able to cope with such rapid growth with existing sources of revenues. Already 114 communities are under restrictions on growth because of inadequate wastewater treatment capacity. Many schools are overcrowded, dilapidated or both. A recent study shows North Carolina's urban and rural roads are overly congested or below standard. This year we'll lose 100,000 acres of farms, forests and natural areas to development -- nearly 50,000 since the General Assembly convened.
At the state level we need to let people vote on bond proposals for schools, clean water, transportation, land and water conservation and affordable housing for seniors and others. The General Assembly also should let the people vote on alternate ways to get these public facilities built, including a local land transfer tax.
Who would you trust for advice about keeping the cities and counties of North Carolina on a steady keel? The self-serving real estate lobby, or the North Carolina League of Municipalities?
It's time to sharpen the tweezers and get Tim Kent's Realtor Ticks out of public policy.
If you haven't contact your representative in Raleigh, do it now. I know it sounds pathetic, but we're at risk of having the General Assembly bought for a mere $600,000 in Realtor commissions. Make your calls and send your emails. One more time.
PS Someone asked me what I have against Realtors. The answer is "nothing." Some of the nicest people I know are Realtors. Which is why I hate to see the NC Realtors Association destroying their reputation and relevance in our state. NCAR's opposition to allowing We the People to vote on our taxes was wrong-headed from the get-go. It was a strategic blunder that has given the NCAR a huge and ugly black eye. It's time for them to apologize, back out, and let us get on with our democracy.