Both the pro-growth forces and the slow-growth forces are celebrating in North Carolina after Tuesday’s elections.
The pro-growthers – say, Tim Kent of the N.C. Association of Realtors – are celebrating that the “property-transfer tax” (the “home tax”) got slaughtered in all 16 counties where it was on the ballot.
The slow-growthers (they’d call it “better-growthers”) – say, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker – are celebrating the voters’ continuing to throw pro-growthers off city and town councils.
The results might seem contradictory. Not at all. Voters don’t like overcrowding, and they don’t like taxes.
Another factor: Good campaigns win.
The slow-growth crowd won in Raleigh last month by running better campaigns than the pro-growth crowd. They gave people something to vote against: the North Hills parking deck subsidy. And they sold higher impact fees on developers as the alternative to higher taxes.
Tuesday, the pro-growth forces gave people something to vote against: higher taxes on home sales.
It’s always easier to get people to vote against something rather than for something.
Plus, the pro-growth crowd spent more money. In Chatham County, they paid college students $15 an hour to hand out fliers against the “home tax.”
Generally, the only organized support for the tax came from county commissioners. They can’t spend tax money on the campaign, so they were handicapped from the get-go.
Somewhere, sometime, the Tim Kents and the Charles Meekers will have a showdown. It will be a rip-snorting battle, and it will have huge consequences for North Carolina’s future.
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