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Tax reform affecting ENC cities differently

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GREENVILLE, Pitt County - City governments are putting their city budgets together, but most wonder just how much funding they'll get from the state since lawmakers in Raleigh continue to tinker with tax reform.

"Millions of dollars are at stake," Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said.

As towns across Eastern North Carolina are finalizing their budgets for the next fiscal year, many are left with gaps where state funds used to be.

"It's very difficult to plan when revenues can potentially be shifted or taken away on the state level," Thomas said.

In Greenville, Thomas says they're really feeling the loss of the Privilege License Tax, a tax on certain businesses and professionals, like banks and lawyers, but it's currently being repealed.

"The loss of the Privilege License Tax is close to, it showed over $600,000, but actually the full projection is close to $1 million. It's going to impact Greenville significantly," Thomas said.

It affects cities in different ways. For instance, just a quick drive down Highway 11 from Greenville, and you arrive in Bethel, where it's a very different story.

"Because we are a small municipality with 1500+, it has not affected us at all," Bethel Mayor Gloristine Brown said.

Being a mostly residential area with few businesses, Bethel only stands to lose a couple of hundred dollars from the Privilege License Tax repeal.

"It's a good feeling that, knowing the pressure they are going through, we do not have to endure," Brown said.

It's a pressure that Thomas and his board of commissioners hope to relieve, as they explore other revenue streams in the hopes of keeping property taxes low.

Another stream of state funding comes from sales taxes. A bill to reform the way that tax is distributed to municipalities is also being discussed in Raleigh. Bethel and Greenville mayors say their cities stands to lose money if that bill passes.

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