Debt, taxes, and gaming the feds. What could go wrong in Rocky Mount?

My colleague Kari Travis has the latest update on the Rocky Mount event boondoggle, oops, center in today’s Carolina Journal.

Read her report, but here’s a quick recap:

$50M project in a community with 3.3% population decline where property values likely dropping 15% and possible property tax increase of 17.5%.  How to pay for it?  City officials plan to take on $51 Million in debt without voter approval, leaving city residents responsible for paying the debt back.

The planned 175,000 square feet youth sports center would house basketball and volleyball courts and seating for thousands of spectators.  But at the December 12 meeting, a health center was added to the project.  Why? Besides a city council member is the CEO of the health clinic that would move into the center, adding a clinic qualifies the project for a federal new market tax credit.  New market tax credits have been criticized for their complexity and lack of transparency, not to mention federal tax money giveaways come from tax payers.

Yes, that’s the same tax credit North Carolina considered last session and wisely declined.  New market tax credits for North Carolina were a bad idea then and they’re still a bad idea.

The Rocky Mount event center was a bad idea and an unwise burden for taxpayers when the city council started talking about in 2012 and it’s still a bad idea and an even bigger burden on taxpayers now.

Becki Gray / Senior Vice President

Becki Gray is Senior Vice President of the John Locke Foundation. She provides information, consultation, and publications to elected officials, government staff and other dec...

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