The Transylvania Times -

Simple Change For Efficiency


Last updated 12/19/2018 at 3:27pm

There are quirks in state law that make no sense and create government inefficiency. One of those quirks came to light at the Transylvania County Board of Education meeting Monday night regarding reimbursement of sales taxes.

Because the sales tax is used to provide government services, it makes no sense for the government to tax itself. When governmental entities do pay sales taxes, county and municipal governments, universities, community colleges, etc. can apply to have the sales tax directly reimbursed to themselves. There is an exception – traditional public schools.

Since traditional public schools cannot be directly reimbursed for sales taxes, they have to go through a virtual “shell game” so that they are reimbursed. In the case of Transylvania County Schools, the school board will have to lease the two campuses at Brevard High and Rosman High/Middle for a number of years to the county so that the county can receive the sales tax reimbursements and then turn that money over to the schools. Thus, attorneys have to draw up more documents for the school board and county commission to sign, and county financial personnel have to process the reimbursement before sending it to the school system. It’s just another unnecessary level of legal and accounting work.

Unfortunately, this is not the only situation in which state laws make accounting more complicated. Too many times governmental entities are required to handle money that “passes through” to other entities. This leads to inefficiency and confused accountability, which can then lead to the misuse of public funds.

In this case, the school board is correct to play this “shell game” because it could result in saving local taxpayers $3-4 million, but there is no reason for the “shell game” to exist in the first place. Traditional public schools should be treated the same way as other governmental entities. All state lawmakers would have to do is add “traditional public schools” to the statue regarding the reimbursement of sales taxes. It would be one small step toward improving government efficiency.


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