GASTONIA, N.C. -- Gaston County commissioners on Thursday approved a property tax increase of 3.5 cents, then accepted the resignation of County Manager Jan Winters who had recommended a 5.4 cent hike.
Winters said he’d been forced to resign. Assistant county manager Phil Ponder was appointed interim manager.
In a 5-2 vote, the board passed the county’s first tax hike in 12 years, bringing the rate from 83.5 cents per $100 valuation to 87 cents per $100 valuation.
Winters had recommended a 5.4 cent tax increase to pay off college and school bonds. Without the increase, he said cutbacks in services and layoffs would be necessary.
First-term Commissioner Jason Williams, who voted to accept Winters’ resignation, said that as a fiscal conservative, “the last thing I expected was to be forced to raise taxes my first budget.”
He said the county needed to find a manager who was a leader, a businessman and innovative.
Commissioner Joe Carpenter called Winters “one of the best county managers we’ve had.”
Winters, who came to Gaston 12 years ago, thanked the board “for giving me the opportunity to serve the community.”
Walking to his car, Winters said he had no idea what was coming at Thursday night’s commissioners meeting.
“It happens,” he said of the decision.