Frequently Asked Questions
What is your methodology?
For residential development, scores are calculated by beginning with an A+ rating and for each vote in favor of rezoning, the council member will drop one step to A, B+, B, C+, and so on. There are no minus letter grades.
For taxes and fees, scores are calculated by beginning with an A rating and for each vote in favor of increasing taxes or fees, the council member will drop one letter grade. Since there are fewer opportunities to vote (one budget decision per year) there are no plus or minus letter grades for taxes and fees.
All council votes are compiled from the public record.
Are there exceptions?
Our community has experienced rapid growth which can lead to traffic congestion, additional burden on schools, and more crime. For this reason, all rezonings for major residential developments contribute to the score. Routine votes on smaller parcels with very few lots are excluded.
When it comes to taxes and fees, elected officials often use “emergencies” to justify increases. In the unfortunate event of a real crisis, spending cuts in other areas should first be employed to finance an emergency response in order to keep taxes low and maintain the appeal of living in the town.
Not fair! I’m an incumbent and I have an “F” rating.
Each council member is graded by the same criteria. If you find an error in your voting record, please let us know and it will be corrected immediately.
Is all development bad / are all taxes bad?
Not necessarily. The objective of this site is to provide information on council voting patterns to citizens who can make their own judgements. It does not endorse specific candidates, but rather serves to help voters identify and support candidates who align with their vision for the town where they want to live.
What is a “backdoor tax hike”?
A backdoor tax hike is when the ad valorem tax rate remains unchanged, but the town increases its revenue through a property revaluation. The stated purpose of a property revaluation is to calibrate properties that may have increased or decreased in value since the last assessment due to market fluctuations, not to increase the tax base for the town. To prevent abuse, state law requires municipalities to present a Revenue Neutral Budget which keeps the tax base constant after a revaluation. Recently the city of Charlotte conducted a property revaluation and lowered their tax rate to compensate for it, keeping their budget “revenue neutral”. The Town of Harrisburg has declined to adopt a Revenue Neutral Budget for fiscal year 2021 by council vote. Since more properties in Harrisburg increased in value than decreased and increased by greater amounts than surrounding properties decreased, property owners will be taxed higher on average than in previous years.
Why doesn’t the mayor have a voting record?
The mayor only votes when there is a tie.
Who’s really in charge of our town?
The town manager answers to the town council and the town council answers to YOU.
What about Harrisburg, PA?
The intended audience for this site is residents of Harrisburg, NC.
I am a candidate up for re-election. Can I reference my grade in campaign materials?
Yes, you are free to publicize your rating in any way you feel appropriate.
Who runs this site?
HarrisburgAccountability.org is a non-partisan watchdog and does not accept monetary contributions of any kind. It is operated by Harrisburg residents Jim and Nicole Eskew.