Oak Island wants to eliminate decades-old tax to Dosher Memorial Hospital
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Residents of the Smithville township - which includes Oak Island, Southport, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island - have paid a property tax to Dosher Memorial Hospital for almost 50 years.
That could soon change, as the Oak Island town council has introduced a resolution to eliminate the tax.
The Smithville township voted to pay the tax in 1976 to support the hospital’s bonds. In 2000, they voted for a 30-year extension on the tax.
Residents pay 4 cents per $100 of property value. For example, if a home is worth $500,000, they would pay $200 each year.
Oak Island councilman Mark Martin says people can no longer afford it.
“We’re all tired of paying this property tax, especially now. Inflation is out of control. Oak Island residents are struggling month-to-month to purchase groceries or put gas in their cars. Household wages are historically declining at this point in time,” Martin said.
As the years have gone by, the property values have grown, increasing the tax. Properties were recently revalued, with about an 80% increase, almost doubling the tax.
That’s partly why Martin introduced a resolution to eliminate the tax. He says the tax is targeted at repaying a bond that’s set to expire next year.
“My point of view is if there’s if there’s no bond payment, then there’s no tax,” Martin said.
Dosher Memorial Hospital president and CEO Lynda Stanley says it’s funding the hospital can’t afford to lose.
“Without the tax dollars, Dosher would look very different. We would need to take a hard look at the services we offer this community,” Stanley said.
Stanley says they use the money for maintenance and improvements. They’re working on a project right now for a new emergency department, that will double its current size.
She believes taxpayers should think of this as an investment for themselves and the community.
“Dosher Hospital is a part of the infrastructure to support the needs of this community. We never want to risk weakening this infrastructure.”
Whether neighbors will view the tax as an investment remains to be seen, and Martin says it’s ultimately up to county commissioners to decide what’s next.
For now, neighbors will have to continue paying the tax.
Caswell Beach, Bald Head Island and Southport say they do not currently have any plans to try to eliminate this tax.
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