Around Town: AFP Addresses Business Privilege Tax

The Sanford City Council’s business privilege tax has taken another hit this week in Sanford. Less than a week before crucial municipal elections that feature three candidates committed to addressing, and possibly reversing, the tax – one an incumbent, two who are challenging members who helped council member Steve Brewer pass it – the national grassroots organization “Americans for Prosperity” has announced that it’s organizing a Lee County chapter. In a press release, AFP says among the priorities of the group are helping to “secure the repeal of the new business privilege tax in Sanford.”

AFP has organized what it is calling a “press luncheon” Thursday at Sanford’s River Lodge restaurant to discuss its efforts. It begins at 12:30 p.m. Lloyd Jennings of Sanford is heading up the Lee County chapter. In the press release, Jennings said essentially what Mike Stone (who faces Lora Wright), Charles Taylor (facing incumbent Dan Harrington) and Earl Barker (up against incumbent Linwood Mann) have said throughout their respective campaigns: people are “tired of their voices being ignored by politicians.” Harrington and Mann voted with Brewer on the proposed tax earlier this year; Brewer, who worked feverish behind the scenes to promote the tax before it was voted upon, has mentored Lora Wright during her campaign against Stone and has been promoting her candidacy with, among other things, somewhat inaccurate e-mail messages to city employees and others in the community critical of Stone.

AFP doesn’t endorse candidates, but the Lee County chapter will “aggressively work to inform voters which candidates support the tax and which candidates are in favor of repealing the tax,” according to officials. In other words, you can expect it to do what it can to help Stone in his fight against Wright for the at-large city council seat.

AFP is an interesting organization. It’s a non-partisan, but decidedly Republican-leaning, group committed to educating the public about economic policy and mobilizing the citizenry to be advocates for good public policy. Its focus is on limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal issues. Among its goals, according to its website (

– A Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to protect the economic interests of citizens by making it harder to raise taxes and waste scarce tax dollars on frivolous programs.

– Cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens by fighting proposed tax increases and pointing out evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse.

– Limiting taxation and spending to promote fiscal responsibility.

– Removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship and opportunity by sparking citizen involvement in the regulatory process early on in order to reduce red tape.

– Restoring fairness to the judicial system by stemming the tide toward “over-criminalization” of economic activity spurred by over-active attorneys general.

AFP’s North Carolina organization recently mobilized efforts in Monroe to defeat a proposed food tax and is currently active in nearby Harnett and Chatham counties, fighting taxes that will appear on next Tuesday’s ballot.

It’ll be interesting to see what impact, if any, the Lee County chapter has on local policy, and how it will address the tax in Thursday’s meeting and moving forward. Any success or failure will largely depend on the job Jennings does and who wins the three seats up for grabs Tuesday.

The business privilege tax was proposed by then-city manager Leonard Barefoot this year as an alernative to increasing city property taxes. The Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce opposed its passage on the basis that it’s levied unfairly, and more than 5,000 people sign petitions opposing it.

Watch Friday’s Herald for a report from Thursday’s meeting.

5 Responses to Around Town: AFP Addresses Business Privilege Tax

  1. Julie Thompson says:

    I thought I would visit your blog and see what it has to offer. There is no question who you support in the up coming election. It is a shame that your paper and your blog do not present all the facts of an issue. Many people do not read your paper because of the way you try and sway the community to believe one way, your way, on many issues. There is no question who you will endorse in the next few days. The only positive from this is you cannot vote for them.

  2. bhorner3 says:

    There has been a post to this entry that The Herald and our blogs don’t represent “all the facts.” That has been the case throughout our reporting of the business privilege tax from those who are in favor of the tax, yet when asked for specific examples of factual errors or misrepresentation, none are provided. If there are any factual misrepresentations in this blog entry, I will correct them immediately and will note those corrections in the entry, same as we do with clarifications and corrections in The Herald. As for the claim that The Herald is trying to “sway the community”…that’s what the editorial page (page 4A, in our case) of newspapers are for. That’s why we have an editorial board and publish letters to the editor on both sides of issues. You should expect there to be disagreement about issues…that’s what generates constructive discussion and new alternatives and solutions to problems. This illustrates the need to have more discussion about more issues.

  3. workman99 says:

    Ask yourself, how many of you have bought goods off the internet and NOT paid the appropriate taxes on them. The same people who are buying goods off the internet are also running businesses. A business owner may buy goods to support his or her business from an out of town or out of state vendor. These out of town vendors are not going to be effected by the local business privilege tax. A telephone call is made or an email is recieved and business is conducted. How can the city enforce this tax unless they post an enforcement person at every home and business in the city of Sanford. So why is the city council so intent on hurting local business? There is no way that this tax is going to be fairly enforced. The law needs to be reviewed. Now with the electronic age upon us, business is conducted much differently. Why does not someone realized that this law is outdated? And does not this law interfere with Federal law and interstate commerce?

  4. nickadams27 says:

    Are you a member of this club yet, Bill?

    What’s your take on a “grassroots” group that misstates things like who is in favor of lower taxes? Didn’t Stone vote for the raise in property taxes? Hypocritical, isn’t it?

  5. bhorner3 says:

    Am I a member? No. Not yet. Haven’t decided yet.

    My take on it? Concerned.

    Had you been at the “press luncheon” this week you would have heard me ask these questions:

    – has AFP had success before in NC trying to repeal a business privilege tax? (answer: no)

    – why focus on that when so many communities already have it? (answer: just because other cities and towns have it doesn’t make it right)

    – how can AFP be “non-partisan” when it runs ads clearly supporting specific candidates and running phone banks doing the same thing? (answer: because it focuses on issues, it can call itself non-partisan…the ads were to “educate” the public)

    – how can AFP claim Lora Wright is in support of raising taxes? (answer: AFP stands by the claim based on reviewing video of The Herald’s forum…I don’t recall hearing Lora say she favored raising taxes)

    – how can AFP be “non-partisan” when it is clearly aligned with Republican issues? (answer: they’re not “Repubican” issues, they said, but rather, “American” issues)

    So the short answer is I’m skeptical…that’s why I said in the blog the key would be exactly how Lloyd Jennings goes about things.

    Finally, did Mike Stone really vote to raise property taxes? Is that a fact or a presumption based on his “no” vote on the business privilege tax?

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