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Special Service Tax District (SSTD)

The LGA has received many questions concerning our position on the proposed Special Service Tax Districts (SSTD) for Lake Gaston (a special use tax district strictly for the control of aquatic weeds) .  

In 2004, after revisiting the results of our then-recent member survey, the LGA took a position to support the SSTD funding proposal by the Weed Control Council because it was clear at that time we were running out of options for obtaining necessary funding to get this problem under control. 

We have updated that position, and invite you to review the results of a member survey conducted in February 2006.  CLICK HERE   


EDUCATIONAL:  Funding "Solutions" to the control of Hydrilla (brochure)



Question:  What is a Special Service Tax District (SSTD)


Answer:   One of several ways to refer to it, a SSTD is basically a specifically designated geographical area (district) within a county's jurisdiction or boundary lines, created for a specific purpose.  Special service or "use" districts are one option available to North Carolina county governments (not so in Virginia) for the purpose of collecting funds and directing expenses to a specific area for a specific need.  The revenue in & the expenses out of the SSTD are not to be mixed with the "general" funds of the county.


This particular SSTD for Lake Gaston property owners in NC is intended, if approved, for the sole purpose of weed elimination in Lake Gaston.


Question:  Who is affected by this Special Service Tax District (SSTD)


Answer:   It is intended for everyone to see a positive affect by the results of this tax if approved, including those who do not own lakefront property; but those who stand to gain the most monitarily would be property owners on and around Lake Gaston.  Therefore, it is possible that counties would only impose this tax on Lake Gaston property owners within the SSTD, meaning those who have direct access to the lake (waterfront property owners) or those having direct access through their homeowner association’s community access lot. 


Question:  Where do we stand now?  (6/10/04)


Answer:   Currently, all three counties are receptive to this proposed solution.  Northampton County has taken the lead and has progressed the farthest with the concept, and will be holding a County Manager's Meeting for the public on June 16, and a public hearing on June 21. 


Question:  How much will this cost me?


Answer:  This would be a local tax, recalculated annually, and currently (June 10) only Northampton has determined what this tax would be based on the currently projected needs.  For Northampton property owners in this district and under this proposal, a maximum of 6 cents per $100 of the evaluated taxable amount ($60 per $100,000 ) would be applied, or $180 for $300,000 assessed value of property. 


Question?   Why do we need a special tax district for noxious weed control?


Answer:   Only through adequate funding can we effectively treat the whole lake by using all approved chemical and biological means.  Present funding is less than half of the amount needed.  The Special Tax District(s) should, if implemented, provide the additional needed funds, eliminating the need for private treatment.  Our goal is to gain effective control of noxious weeds and reduce costs to a maintenance level.  The result will be an improved safety, recreation and fisheries environment.  This could take from three to five years after all Counties have increased funding.  This effective control will help maintain or improve property values.


Question?  How are these funds used and who is accountable?


Answer: Funds generated from these District(s) will be allocated to the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council (LGWCC).  Funds will be used exclusively for noxious weed control in Lake Gaston with funds first being used to treat all waterfront properties in the county supplying the funds.  These funds will be used as needed to acquire matching fund grants from public or private sources. 


The LGWCC is accountable to each county that provides the funds.  A budget has to be prepared each year that compares the previous year’s results.  A proposed budget for the upcoming year must be prepared recommending the funds needed for that year.  All sources of funding, such as grants and unused previous years funds, will be utilized in preparing the budget. 


The LGWCC, the Counties, individuals and organizations must continue to seek out additional sources of funding.  This funding will reduce the amount needed from Lake Gaston property owners.                                                                                                                                     

As with any non-profit corporation also operating as a public body, the LGWCC must comply with all rules for budget submission, yearly audits and other requirements as provided by Statute and/or the Grantor.


Question?  Don’t we already pay a “subsidy” through higher evaluation of our property?


Answer:   All citizens of any given county pay the same number of cents per hundred dollars of fair market value plus any special assessments.  Lake Gaston waterfront property carries a much higher fair market value than off shore or other property in the county.  This higher evaluation is related to the water quality of Lake GastonTo maintain and increase value of lake property we will need to pay a special service tax for treating noxious weeds.  This could be called a “subsidy”; however, as lake front property owners we stand to gain or lose the most from control, or lack thereof, of noxious weeds.


Question:  Why don’t other lake users have to pay?


Answer:  Others do pay indirectly.  Virginia Beach taxpayers/water users pay ($200,000+) into the control fund each year.  The state of North Carolina has a “dollar for dollar” matching funds grant (up to $200,000) based on available funds from the counties.  This is taken from statewide taxes.  The State of Virginia has not been contributing.  Virginia taxpayers should encourage their elected representatives to rectify this deficiency.


The taxes paid to the counties for noxious weed control would be a tax deduction for those who itemize.  Federal taxes would be reduced, thus some indirect Federal funding. The cost of private treatment is not deductible.


Individuals, organizations and the Counties should continue to seek out additional sources of funding such as the Army Corp of Engineers, State of Virginia, special license fees, and other private or public grants.


Question:   How can we voice our support for or against this tax?


Answer:   While the LGA Board supports this option, IT IS YOU, the taxpayer who can make it happen.  Each of the three North Carolina counties are in different stages of consideration, and each will hold a public hearing on the proposed SSTD for their county before it ever gets approved. 


Your county commissioners need to know how you feel. So contact your commissioner's directly, and/or contact one of the LGWCC members below. 


    Northampton Public Hearing:  June 21, 2004 @ 1:30 pm, Commissioners’ Meeting Room.


Question:  Where can I get more information?


Answer:  You are invited to send questions & inquiries to the Lake Gaston Weed Control Council members:

              Boyd Strain, Secretary   bstrain@ncol.net

              John Slaton, Treasurer   kslaton@lgaston.org


The Lake Gaston Association will be happy to answer your questions as well: