Every city and town in Guilford County gets a portion of the sales tax revenue collected within the county each year except for one – Stokesdale – and, despite a recent push to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to see that change, the town isn’t going to get any of that money this year either.
There’s a reason Stokesdale gets left out. Unlike other towns and cities in Guilford County, it doesn’t levy a property tax.
Sales tax revenue goes to the state and is then sent to the counties, which hand the money out to cities and towns in one of two ways: either based on the population or based on the value of assessed property taxes – known as the “ad valorem” method.
Guilford County Commissioner Pat Tillman, who represents Stokesdale on the Board of Commissioners is just one county official who’s been hearing the request for Guilford County to change from the “ad valorem” method to the population-based one. He said that Stokesdale Town Council members expressed the desire when he was at a recent Town Council meeting.
Other commissioners have been getting the request as well.
Tillman and other county officials praised the town for being efficiently run, and for the fact that they get a lot done without a property tax.
“They are very frugal,” Tillman said. “For instance, when they needed a town building painted, councilmembers grabbed paint cans and brushes and did the job.”
Tillman also pointed out that they do get served by county services such as the Sheriff’s Department.
Most residents understandably don’t want to see a property tax, but that does prevent them from getting sales tax revenue.
To change to a population-based distribution system, the county commissioners would need to change all the amounts for other towns and cities in the county as well.
Up until nearly two decades ago, Guilford County government did use a population-based system and that change caused a major uproar back then.
This week, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said the board is not considering making the change.
He and Tillman both said switching systems would mean a loss of millions of dollars by Guilford County government because the county would have to give out more of the sales tax revenue than it does now.
Tillman said it was his understanding that the county would lose roughly $10 million or $11 million that would go to cities and towns, and Alston said he thought that figure was roughly accurate as well.