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Modern 'Revenuers' Seize
Properties For Drup Taxes
UY LYNN CARLSON
Federal "revenuers" may have
been the nemesis of old-time moon
shiners, but they had nothing on
modem-day state revenue agents
charged wi!h collecting the taxes
owed on iliogal drugs.
Take the case of a Rockingham
couple recently busted with 1,642
grams (about 3.6 pounds) of co
In addition to losing inherited
property on Oak Island?a trailer
off Long Beach Road, a lot on Long
Beach and a commercial building
on Yaupon Beach?they face con
trolled substance and income taxes
of nearly S1.2 million levied on the
drugs and the profits believed to
have been made off them.
The substance lax alone will ac
crue interest at ii luic of per
month on principal of $328,400. For
good measure, the state tacked on
another 5689,307 in assessed in
come tax or. the proceeds and iiens,
and state agents continue to look for
assets to sell.
Although the arrest of Janics E.
and Judy L. Trcccc took place in
Richmond County last April,
Brunswick County and the state will
profit under a law which penalizes
those possessing illegal drugs for
failure to have the substances tax
stamped in much the same manner
as liquor or cigarcttes.
And Charles Raines, Brunswick
County's revenue agent in the N.C.
Department of Revenue office in
Shallottc, can prove that such
stamps are really available. He has
one in his wallet, given him to
prove to a local judge that drug tax
"No, no one has comc to the state
looking to buy tax stamps to put on
the marijuana or cocaine they're
planning to sell, but theoretically
that's what they're for," Raines says
with a laugh. "Nobody's purchased
a stamp yet until after they've got
Ihosc arrested on drug posses
sion or distribution charges arc im
mediately assessed taxes on the sub
stances?$200 per gram on cocaine.
The total tax is due within 4X hours
of assessment, and if payment if not
made in that time, the tax is doubled
and interest begins to accrue.
The funds collected from the sale
of property seized for unpaid taxes
arc divided between the law en
forcement agencies involved in the
bust and the Department of
Revenue. Law enforcement gets 75
It's a double bind that has crimi
nals and some defense attorneys
crying foul, but Raines likes the
program because it pumps funds in
to law enforcement and, he hopes,
serves as a deterrent to drug deal
"We just want people to know
how much it can cost them (to pos
sess or deal drugs)," Raines said.
The Trccccs, after paying $179,000
?S54.000 collected from the
Brunswick properties and S 125,000
from a trailer park and some trucks
and cars they owned in Richmond
County?still haven't made a sig
nificant dent in their tax debt.
The tax liability is strictly a civil
one, Raines adds; it is separate from
fines levied in criminal court and
can be enforced even on those
found innocent of selling drugs.
"The fact that they possessed them
and didn't have a tax stamp is the
point," he explained, adding that a
person acquitted of drug charges
has 30 days to file protest against
the civil tax liability.
The revenue department has re
cently begun appointing designated
drug enforcement officers in each
region of the state to do nothing but
collect drug taxes. The southeastern
quadrant's Wilmington-based offi
cer, Mike Duke, gets about five new
cases a day, according to Raines.
As for the Trecccs, Raines says
they "certainly could use a letter
from Ed McMahon declaring them
the winner of the S10 million
American Family sweepstakes."
Of course, if they did, Raines or
some other "revenuer" would be
there to greet them.
STAFF PHOTO BY LYNN CARLSON
CHARLES RAINES, local agent for the N.C. Department of Rev?
enue, shows a check for $10,140 to the Brunswick County Sheriffs
Department for helping securing Oak Island properties seized after
a Richmond County drug arrest. More funds are expected as the
revenue department disposes of the properties. Raines is also hold
ing an authentic marijuana tax stamp.
Shallotte Merchants Seek Change
In Town's New Garbage Policy
BY DOUG RUTTKR
Four Shallouc merchants ap
peared before the town board
Tuesday night seeking a change in
the new commercial trash pickup
policy that took effect Monday.
Leading the contingent was busi
nessman Beam on Hcwett, a former
mayor of Shallotte, who said it isn't
fair to make merchants pay for trash
pickup when residents get it for free.
Aldenmcn took no action but
promised to consider Hewett's sug
gestion that merchants and residents
pay for removal of their own
garbage. "Let everybody pay the bill
for what they accumulate," he rcc
Under the new three-year contract
with waste hauler Chambers of
South Carolina, the town pays for
pickup of one 90-gallon trash cart
per week at each residence and busi
Any merchant who generates
more trash than the cart can hold
must work out a pickup plan with
Chambers. Those business owners
get credit for the 90-gallon can on
their bill from the sanitation compa
The new policy is a major shift
from the old policy, and it has drawn
criticism from merchants. Shallotte
used to pay for pickup of up to 16
cubic yards of commercial trash per
But town officials said that policy
had to be changed because the town
was paying more for trash pickup at
some businesses than it was receiv
ing from them in taxes.
"I know the system we have has
some imperfections in it," Alderman
Wilton Harrelson told the business
owners Tuesday. "I know the sys
tem we had was ridiculous."
Starting with the new fiscal year
in July, Hewett said everyone should
start paying for their own trash pick
up. "I'm paying for my own. You're
Final Sewer Report Due Soon;
Higher Funding Rank Sought
BY LYNN CARLSON
Engineering consultants studying
the need for a sewer system to serve
Sunset Beach and Calabash have
"just about finished" their final envi
ronmental report and will appear be
fore the county health board on
Monday to discuss their findings.
Joseph Tombro of Powell
Associates of North Myrtle Beach
said the report will be submitted to
the town council by the end of next
week, the last step before the next
public hearing is scheduled on the
Tombro also said he and fellow
engineer Jim Billups last week sent
an update to the N.C. Department of
Environmental Management seeking
a higher ranking for the towns on
the state's funding list. He told
council at its January meeting that,
with formation of the South
Brunswick Water and Sewer
Authority, the towns could "darn
near come in first or sccond" on the
stale's funding list for fiscal year
1994 because of the extra priority
points assigned for forming a "man
agement entity" to seek grants and
loans for the system.
Tombro has told council and citi
zens' groups that the S25 to S30 mil
lion system can be funded through
loans and grants and that its con
struction debt can be retired through
user fees he estimates at $18 per
month for each single-family home.
Billups will be meeting with
DEM officials to lobby for the
towns to be placed on the 1993
funding list, since some high-ranked
towns on the list arc not ir. a finan
cial position to pursuing their sys
tems this year, Tombro said.
The Sunset Beach Citizens
Advisory Board, appointed by
Mayor Mason Barber lo represent
residents of dif ferent areas of town
on the sewer issue, has established a
mailing address to receive "com
ments, questions and concerns"
from residents and properly owners.
Its address is P.O. Box 6460, South
Brunswick Station, Sunset Bcach
Tombro told the board Monday
that the advisory board has asked
Powell Associates to respond to citi
zens' questions and that only six re
sponses have been received to an in
formational bulletin sent to 2,000
property owners last month.
"Two of the letters were of a posi
tive nature that required no re
sponse," Tombro reported in a Feb.
1 letter to Barber. 'Two...were nega
tive, of which one had no legible
signature nor return address.
Two...had questions and concerns
that I have addressed by letter..."
Land Plan Hearing
Though no date was set for the
sewer hearing, council scheduled a
public hearing on the final draft of
its Coastal Area Management Act
land use plan for Monday, Feb. 15,
at 7 p.m. in the town hall.
The draft plan has been studied
by the state coastal management of
fice, which mack- suggestions for
minor changes. The changes will be
reflected in the document to be dis
cussed in the public hearing.
Planning Board Chairman Richard
Good told the board.
Work Session Set
A work session of the town coun
cil and planning board was sched
uled for Feb. 18 at 9:30 a.m. to dis
cuss six amendments the planning
group has recommended to the
town's zoning and subdivision ordi
The amendments to be discusscd
include landscaping requirements
for commercial ventures containing
five or more business establish
ments; requirements for buffers and
for yards in which buffers are re
quired; site development plans for
commercial or professional property
in some zones; permitted uses in the
mainland residential 1 zoning area;
stormwater control on properties
less than 1 acre; and minimum park
Work session are informal meet
ings in which town officials discuss
issues without taking official action.
They are open to the public.
In other business, the board
praised the work of the town's 42
mcmber Beautificaiion Committee
and accepted its design for a three
by-five-fool town flag based on the
design of the Sunset Beach Police
Council agreed to order a large
flag to be flown on special occasions
and to investigate the possibility of
purchasing smaller flags to sell to
townspeople. The design includes a
logo with the sea, sun and a gull on
a deep blue background.
Councilman Bud Scrantom was
drafted to study the feasibility of the
town's renting a chipper and hiring
an operator to periodically mulch
residents' yard waste. Yard debris
can no longer be collected in the
town's garbage pick-up or placed in
the county landfill.
Scrantom said other towns, in
cluding Burlington, Vermont, and
Southport, have successful yard
waste recycling programs.
Sewage Disposal & Water ? Site Preparation & Paving
?Consulting/Permit Application* "Clearing- 'Chipping
-Designs/Plans/lnstallation- -Fill Dirt- -Grading*
?Conventional Septic Tanks/ B ,Sock T|,e |nsta||ation.
?DrainagePWaSnsS/^tmirt Plans- I ?Pavin9 (Commercial/Residential).
?Maintenance Agreements- ?Home Driveways
?Water Line Installations- -Parking Lots
Rickv Parker - Owner ? North Carolina
north Carolina ?.. .... c,irfav/ q 1 General Contractor
V 842-4003~Monday-Friday 9-5 License #30470
Saturday by appointment only
Hwv 130, Holden Beach Rd. HIGHWAY ? PUBLIC UTILITIES
. 4% miles from Shallotte ^ i _ ^ - (Water/Sewer)
paying for your own. That's the way
it works," he explained.
Hcwett said making everyone pay
their own garbage bill would allow
the town to cut the tax rate by 12
cents?from 47 cents per S100 of
valuation to 35 cents.
In the meantime, he suggested the
town continue paying for commer
cial trash pickup through the end of
June sincc the money is already bud
"The businesses in this town are
in a depression. We're past reces
sion," Hewctt said. "You're going to
see the merchants folding in this
Jo Ann Simmons, who runs a
hardware store, was among the mer
chants who supported Hcwctt's pro
posal. She said businesses promote
growth in Shallotte and generate
sales tax to help pay for services.
'The merchants arc a part of the
town and without the merchants you
wouldn't have a town," she said.
"You need us as bad as we need
Alderman Paul Wayne Reeves
sided with the merchants and recom
mended that the town spring for
oncc-a-wcck commercial pickup
through the end of the fiscal year.
Reeves said the town has more
than enough money budgeted
(SI20,000) to pay for the trash pick
up. In the meantime, he said the
town and business owners could
work out a new policy that treats
But other board members said
they didn't want to make any deci
sions on the issue Tuesday night.
They said they wanted time to think
about Hewett's suggestion.
"I think everyone has an open
mind," Harrelson said. "It's some
thing that's going to have to be
Alderman Roney Cheers said if
the town board and merchants work
together, there's a "good possibility"
they can work out a plan that will
please most people.
Merchants said Tuesday they
didn't realize the town had been los
ing money under the old commercial
trash policy. They said the problem
could have been avoided it the board
had brought it to their attention ear
"I suspect it was a fault on both
sides?on the merchants' side and
the town's side," Mayor Pro Tem
David Gause said.
Since the new trash policy was
announced, merchants said they
have reduced the amount of trash
pickup they were receiving when the
town was paying. Now they're using
the smallest containers they can.
Hewett said the town used to pay
S661 per year for his trash pickup.
Now that he'll be paying, the service
has been cut so it will only cost
SI 50 per year.
Harrelson said there was no in
centive under the old system to con
serve dumpstcr space bccause the
town paid for everything.
Mayor Sarah Tripp did not attend
Tuesday's meeting due to an illness
in the family, said Gause.
Shallotte plans to donate S500 to
help pay for rings for West
Brunswick High School's stale
championship football team.
Aldermen approved the contribu
tion Tuesday night pending research
by Town Attorney Mark Lewis to
determine if it is legal. Board mem
bers agreed to make the donation
following a 30-minutc executive
Howard Benton requested the
money on behalf of the West
Brunswick Athletic Booster Club.
"We hate to go back to the mer
chants." he said. "We're always hit
ting the merchants."
Benton said the club has raised
approximately $4,000 of the S6.000
it needs to buy the 41 rings for play
ers and coaches. The rings will be
presented at a banquet later this win
ter at Sea Trail Plantation.
The Trojans won the 1992 state 2
A football championship Dec. 12. It
was the school's first state football
championship and first state title in
any sport in 17 years.
Answers 45 Calls
The Calabash Emergency Medi
cal Service answered 45 calls in
December, President Kathy Morfit
reported at the group's Jan. 25 board
of directors meeting.
In the absence of Chief Mark
Christy, Morfit said the squad
worked 161.5 hours and traveled
1,667 miles. Of those calls, 19 were
made in Calabash, six in Sunset
Beach and 20 elsewhere.
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