Haywood County taxation deserves representation

Apr 10, 2017

(Editor’s note: This letter was sent as a letter to the editor by Joseph Kyzer, the communication director for N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore. The letter was to be attributed to N.C. Rep. Mike Clampitt, who represents part of Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties in the General Assembly. Kzyer said he customarily helps House members with communication issues and that Clampitt had asked for help in making sure the letter got to all the media outlets since his office has the media contacts.)

In a Friday interview, Kyzer said Clampitt indicated what he wanted to say and he stressed the Speaker’s office was not exerting “undue influence.”

“He (Clampitt) just wants to make sure he is doing this right,” Kyzer said.

Clampitt said he wanted to address issues raised in a letter and media reports by Haywood County Commission Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick (See letter on this page).

“I asked the speaker’s office to craft a response and see to the media distribution so it would come from a high credibility source,” Clampitt said in an interview. “I didn’t craft the letter per se. I sat down with the staff and we discussed options for making the best appropriate response.”

He indicated he has had no personal contact with Kirkpatrick and emphasized he is easy to contact.

To the editor:

Haywood County Board Chairman Kirk Kirkpatrick has publicly complained ‘It feels like we have no representation’ in Raleigh because local state House members like myself insist on giving constituents a choice whether to elect their tax collector via referendum.

However, the citizens of Haywood County might feel they have no representation either if they lost their existing right to vote on this key public position without having any say in the matter, as Commissioner Kirkpatrick prefers.

As a state representative, I support my constituents having local control over their elections.  I will not support permanently removing their right to vote on a key official like tax collector via a directive from Raleigh.  The citizens of Haywood County deserve a voice in this matter that a simple referendum would provide.

I value the unique input the citizens of Haywood County have on local government by electing their tax collector, just as they elected me to serve them.  Holding a referendum at a cost of $5,000 is a small price to pay to let our voters decide if they want to continue electing their tax collector.

Right now Haywood County citizens have taxation with a unique, locally elected form of representation.  They deserve input whether to keep it that way.

 

N.C. Rep. Mike Clampitt

North Carolina House Member

Haywood, Jackson & Swain counties

 

Haywood County Commission Chairman James W. (Kirk) Kirkpatrick sent the following letter to Haywood’s legislative delegation on March 3 regarding a bill allowing Haywood County to have an appointed tax collector.

Dear Senator Davis, Representative Presnell and Representative Clampitt:

I am sending you this letter along several lines. I am the Chairman of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners and have been a commissioner in Haywood County since 2002. I am a practicing attorney in Waynesville and have been such since 1995. I was raised in Haywood County and attended school in Haywood County; graduated from Tuscola in 1987. My family is deeply rooted in Haywood County.  My ancestors have been here since prior to 1800. I am very proud of my county and its accomplishments over the years.

Recently, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners requested that you submit a bill for legislation allowing Haywood County to join all other counties in North Carolina in having an appointed tax collector, a process that has been approved and recommended by numerous county commissioners and the state legislature. The vote was a unanimous vote of 5-0 with a board being made up of three Democrats and two Republicans. Obviously, as you know all five of us were elected by the people of Haywood County; four of us having been elected to multiple terms and the last one, Brandon Rogers leading the ticket in the last election.

I was forwarded an email from Senator Jim Davis which indicated that a bill would not be submitted per our request and that there was a request for the resolution to be modified to request a referendum on the subject. I would ask each of you to please reconsider your position and support the elected officials in Haywood County by asking the legislature to pass a bill allowing us to have an appointed tax collector like all other counties in lieu of requiring Haywood County to undergo a referendum which will cost us approximately $5,000.

Your efforts on the part of Haywood County are very much appreciated. In the event that any one of you would like to discuss this matter further with me or any of the commissioners, I would encourage you to contact  us.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and I will await your decision.

James W. Kirkpatrick, III

 

Editor’s note: When asked about Clampitt’s public response to the letter, Kirkpatrick said he would “hammer on this issue” as long as it was needed. At a district county commissioner meeting, Kirkpatrick said the issue, as well as local legislators’ response was discussed.

“They couldn’t believe it,” he said. “All we’re asking to do is be like the other 99 counties. It would be different if there was a split vote or a divided board, but we are all in agreement on this issue. The statutes don’t even address situations for elected tax collectors anymore.”

By insisting on holding a referendum on the issue, any change would be delayed at least six years even if voters approved the measure. That’s because incumbent Tax Collector Mike Matthews’ term ends in 2018, and the election results in 2018 would hold for another four years.

“We were elected by the people in this county to make decisions on behalf of the county,” Kirkpatrick said of the board of commissioners. By listening to a hue in the community, they are showing they don’t care what the local people say. They are trying to make this about voting and choice. The voters did that by electing us and he (Clampitt) and Rep. Presnell just ignored us.”