By Nathan Ham
Blowing Rock Mayor Charlie Sellers wants to see more county funds coming to his end of Watauga County.
Mayor Sellers has told the High Country Press that he intends to speak at Tuesday’s Watauga County Commissioner’s Meeting with the hopes of seeing more county tax dollars to be given to the smaller towns outside of Boone such as Blowing Rock, Seven Devils, and Beech Mountain.
One of the main agenda items for Tuesday’s meeting is the public hearing for county citizens to comment on the proposed budget for the 2020 fiscal year. That is when Mayor Sellers will make his points to the county commissioners.
“My whole issue is that I do not feel like that Blowing Rock reaps a lot of benefits from these property taxes that we are paying to Watauga County,” said Sellers. “Within the city limits of Blowing Rock this year, we pay $3.6 million that goes to Watauga County. We get $12,000 for parks and rec and $35,000 for fire and rescue and that is essentially it.”
A couple of the major issues that Sellers brought up included the decision by the county to not fund an SRO position at Blowing Rock School and the uncertainty of a full-time EMT squad in the town. Sellers said he was initially told that the Blowing Rock EMT was not in the budget but found out this past weekend that the EMT for Blowing Rock will be funded by the county.
“We had made a request for some funding for our SRO officer that the town is funding, the taxpayers are funding, and they denied that,” said Sellers. “We’ve really had to push for our EMT rescue. I want confirmation and clarification on that. We need an EMT over here; our average age in Blowing Rock is probably 58-60 years old. I just feel like we are not getting enough reimbursed revenue from the county for what we’re paying in taxes.”
Sellers added that much like a business does what they can to please their customers, the county should do the same for town residents that pay both town and county taxes.
“We as taxpayers are customers and we’re not getting the services that I think we really deserve as a community for what we’re paying in taxes. It (property tax) went up last year to fund the new rec center and now they’re proposing a five-cent increase? Where is it going? What are we getting for this increase? Nothing,” he said. “We need a presence at the county commissioner meetings. They’re taking our money so we need a presence there to let them know that we have an interest in Watauga County and Watauga County Schools and we just want to make sure that funds are going to the proper areas of need.”