Maiden residents could see tax break

Maiden residents could likely see a drop in their property tax rate for the next fiscal year.

If passed by town officials, the proposed tax break will save town residents nearly $80,000 and can be the lowest municipal tax rate in Catawba County.

Though the town of Maiden will lose revenue with the cut, town officials feel that money would be better left in taxpayers’ pockets.

“Unlike other towns, we’ve had some great economic news,” said Todd Herms, Maiden town manager. “The council though it was right to only tax to the level that was needed.”

That “great economic news” revolves around jobs.

In the past three years, more than 600 new jobs were moved to or created in Maiden. Some of those emerged when furniture powerhouse Ethan Allen brought back 152 workers last year that were previously laid off. Herms also said new jobs with Von Drehle Corp. and the Apple Data Center helped the town's economy.

Herms said conservative spending during the past three years has also allowed Maiden to budget well and stay economically efficient during economically challenging times.

“You got to prepare yourself to be lucky,” Herms said. “This time, it was Maiden’s turn to get lucky.”

Samantha Saunders owns Piedmont Hardware on 10 E. Main St. in Maiden and welcomes a tax break.

“It will give us more money to invest in our buildings and to put it toward the maintenance and upkeep of our buildings,” she said.

Saunders said the struggling economy made her customers more skeptical, but feels like a tax break is a step in the right direction.

“It shows that they are aware that people are going through a hard time,” she said.

But Maiden residents will not save money on everything, as electricity rates will increase due to a scheduled increase by the North Carolina Municipal Power Agency 1 (NCMPA). The NCMPA will vote on the increase May 24.

Because the town divides its funds into three separate “accounts,” Herms said it is very difficult to move money around to offset the increase in electricity because of state and federal laws. For this reason, the town does not move money between budgets, Herms said.

“Every budget has its purpose,” Herms said. “We can’t take money from electric and give it to police, for example.”

A public hearing for the proposed budget will take place May 16 at 7 p.m. in the Maiden Branch Library.

Maiden Councilman David M. Boldon thinks the proposed budget will pass.

“This is one of the best budgets I’ve seen prepared,” Boldon said.

Boldon agreed that Apple’s investment in the town helped the economy survive during hard times. And despite the potential loss of revenue the tax cut will bring, Boldon thinks the town could operate the same.

“I think the tax break is great as long as we can continue to provide services to the town,” Boldon said. “It’s something that we can give back to the town.”

2011-12 Total Proposed Budget: $12,812,431
2010-11 Total Proposed Budget: $13,049,034
2011-12 Proposed Tax Rate: 39 cents per $100 of valuation
Estimated savings from the tax break: $78,290
Public Hearing: May 16, 7 p.m., Maiden Branch Library