I caught up with Moore County board of commissioners chairman Nick Picerno who had a few things to say about our earlier post on Reps. Jamie Boles and Allen McNeill filing a bill allowing Moore County the option of doubling its hotel occupancy tax. Said the chairman:
”I heard indirectly that someone had discussions with a member of our board. I then heard indirectly that our legislators in the House introduced this bill. Frankly, I am a little surprised that those gentlemen didn’t bother to talk to the chairman of the Moore County board before introducing something like that.”
Picerno wears his fiscal and social conservative principles on his sleeve. He’s not a fan of tax increases, but would not have necessarily opposed Boles and McNeill introducing the sales tax increase bill:
“I think it’s fine for us to have the option. All it means now is that, if it passes the General Assembly, it comes back here to the county for consideration and a possible vote. I am not interested in voting for an occupancy tax increase in Moore County unless the tourism, hotel and resort people — the folks most likely to be impacted by an increase — come to me and tell me they don’t mind doing this so that a new recreation center can be funded. If they come before our board and say they are a-okay with it, we’ll abide by their wishes.”
”We’ve had some property devaluations here in the county recently, and there are some suggesting that it will cost the county revenue and negatively impact our ability to fund what we need to fund. I am not one of those people. Our plan to unify the fire tax code should offset the revenue concerns related to the property devaluations. If we hold the line on property taxes, and let the county’s growth take its course, things will be all smoothed out in a year. If we have a short-fall in funding some of the necessities, we’ll go through the budget and find the money to make it happen. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. I’m not a big fan of hitting the people of Moore County with more taxes.”
Picerno said his biggest concern these days is getting the state to live up to its funding commitments for capital projects for Moore County schools. The county board recently passed a resolution urging leaders in Raleigh to help address a shortfall in promised funding for teacher positions in Moore County. The county board also recently passed a resolution seeking the county’s full share of lottery proceeds promised to it by the state when the Education Lottery began. Initially, the public schools were promised 40 percent of proceeds for capital projects within the public school system. Recently, the percentage has been a lot closer to 22 percent.