Haywood County budget passes without tax increase

Haywood County budget passes without tax increase File photo

Commissioners voted unanimously June 3 to accept Haywood County Manager Bryant Morehead’s proposed annual budget which, in spite of inflation, forthcoming debt for a jail expansion and the loss of a major employer last year, contains no tax increase.

The budget had been presented to commissioners at least twice prior to the June 3 meeting, but there wasn’t really much to talk about when it was presented for a vote — Morehead crafted a conservative budget that focuses on critical needs, maintains competitiveness in employee compensation packages, funds technology improvements and manages existing debt.

The ad valorem rate will remain at 55 cents per $100 in assessed property value. Based on taxable property worth $10.26 billion and a collection rate of 98.29%, budgeted general fund revenues should reach $56.5 million. That makes each cent on the tax rate worth just over $1 million.

A state-mandated countywide property reappraisal has been underway for some time but won’t factor into this year’s budget. During the previous reappraisal, some property owners saw the value of their property increase on the order of 20% to 30% — a reflection of the red-hot Western North Carolina real estate market and national trend of skyrocketing housing costs.

For the 2023-24 fiscal year, the 55-cent ad valorem tax rate placed Haywood County in good company — with other low-tax counties. That year, only 25 of North Carolina’s 100 counties had a lower ad valorem tax rate. By maintaining the 55-cent tax rate for the 2024-25 fiscal year, Haywood County will likely again have one of the lowest ad valorem tax rates in the state.

The fiscal year 2024-25 budget is the second that incumbent Republican Commissioner Terry Ramey has voted on despite still owing taxes of his own. Before his election in 2022, an investigation by The Smoky Mountain News revealed that Ramey hadn’t paid his personal property taxes in nearly 15 years. Ramey first denied the assessments were valid, threatened media for reporting on the unpaid taxes, made multiple false statements about his unpaid taxes at a 2023 meeting, and then finally said he’d pay the taxes.

Related Items

Ramey subsequently entered a payment plan with the county and eventually paid off the bulk of his unpaid taxes, however, he still owes unpaid taxes from more than a decade ago.

On June 3, Haywood’s elected Tax Collector Sebastian Cothran said the total amount of unpaid taxes by Ramey is now $1,944.10 and growing $6.69 every month due to interest accrued on the principal. State law prohibits maintaining any collection action for tax debts more than a decade old — preventing garnishment of Ramey’s county paycheck — but Cothran said that although Ramey can make payments on the remaining debt, he has yet to make any.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.