The Statesville City Council tells us its policy priorities through its annual budget-making process. This year, the City Council proposes to create a “revenue-generating Building Standards Department.” Many Statesville families will consider this budget proposal quite bizarre, since one has to walk less than 10 minutes down Center Street from the City Hall to the Iredell County Building Inspection Department for the identical service which our City Council proposes to duplicate.

David Pressly

Years ago, a previous City Council wisely gave the role and responsibility of building permits and inspections to Iredell County. Now, the City Council proposes to restore this redundant department with a housing tax this year of about $800,000 and $2 million each year hereafter to operate the new 15-person department. A 10-minute walk down Center Street will show us how ridiculous this proposal is.

The new Building Inspections Department is described as a “revenue generator.” Yet the N.C. General Assembly limits the fees charged by the building inspections department to the actual cost to operate the department. If there is additional revenue generated by the department, it cannot go to the general fund or any other municipal purpose. And when there is a downturn in our national and local economy and very little building, Statesville taxpayers still have all those 15 fixed salaries, trucks, and office space to pay for and maintain.

As a reason for creating additional city hall bureaucracy and the new city Building Inspections Department and as reflected in the October 23, 2023, fall retreat minutes, Ward 5 Councilman Joe Hudson “stated that the most complaints heard by the storm water commission are the gray area between where the city’s responsibility ends and the citizens begins. He feels Council should clear that up and it should be put in place as well.” Clear it up, really, $800,000 this year and $2 million every year thereafter?

City Council members know from their own data most building permits and inspections in Statesville are residential. Therefore, spending $800,000 this year and $2 million each year thereafter on a redundant city building inspections department is simply a housing tax on Statesville families.

Housing costs and Statesville city taxes impact most Statesville families. I know one family household living in Ward 5 which consists of three generations — parents, children, and grandchildren — living together not by choice but forced to live together by housing costs in Statesville. Most likely, there are similar families throughout Ward 5 as well as Wards 3 and Ward 6 in Statesville.

Call your City Council member and ask them to step out of their South Center Street Palace, walk 10 minutes north on Center Street, and explore the Iredell County building permitting and inspections office. If our City Council members say there are problems with the Iredell County inspections operations, ask the county administration to fix those problems, and don’t charge Statesville taxpayers a housing tax of $800,000 this year and $2 million every year thereafter.

Our Statesville City Council is so good at collecting taxes. Perhaps next year they will consider collecting our federal income taxes rather than leaving it to the IRS.

David Pressly is a former member of the Statesville City Council and former mayor of Statesville.

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