Letters to the Editor for March 9, 2023


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Pre-K a significant need for working class families

I would request that the Macon County Commissioners reconsider the recent decision not to pursue the Highlands Pre-K project.  This project was initiated by the previous Commission and approximately $36,000 has been spent to study and prepare a schematic design.  Additionally, the Commission previously agreed to allocate a total of $329,000 for the design phases of the project.  I understand the need to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars but this is a critical project that will benefit working class families of Macon County for years to come.

Highlands is a unique town with unique requirements for continued success. Highlands’ businesses generate significant tax revenues that benefit all of Macon County. It is these businesses that require numerous employees who reside in Franklin and other parts of Macon County and surrounding counties.  The need for additional childcare for these employees’ children has been growing with approximately 60 kids on waiting lists for childcare and Pre-K.

Of the approximate $12,000,000 in sales tax revenue received by Macon County each year, Highlands’ businesses generate a significant amount of this revenue. However, the small number of year-round residents only use a small amount of these funds to meet their needs.  Additionally, Highlands’ properties generate approximately 50% or more of the $33,000,000 in property tax revenue, but the approximate 3,500 year-round residents only need a small portion of this revenue to meet their needs. The proposed Highlands Pre-K is a significant need for Highlands working class families as well as families who work in Highlands but live in Franklin.

When considering the need for additional revenue for important projects like Highlands Pre-K, it is important to note that Macon County voters rejected a 1/4 percent increase in sales tax which would bring us in line with all of the surrounding counties.  This slight increase would have generated a minimum of $1.5 million annually and could have been used for important projects like the Highlands Pre-K and other important school and county infrastructure projects.  Maybe the Commission could consider putting this issue on the next ballot due to the admitted shortfall in current revenue to address critical county infrastructure projects.

Allowing the Highlands Pre-K project to move forward in light of the approval by the Macon County Commission on Nov. 8, 2022, will ensure this project is shovel ready when full funding is available.  I would respectfully request that Macon County Commissioners reallocate the $329,000 previously approved for the Highlands Pre-K to allow this project to come to fruition before it is too late for the kids and families it aims to serve.  


Jerry Moore – Highlands, N.C.