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Author Archives: Ethanie Good

Insights from Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of NC

Whenever North Carolinians receive the news that a company is expanding or moving into the state, there’s a good chance that discussions behind the scenes have included the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The EDPNC is a nonprofit public-private partnership which operates under contract with the NC Department of Commerce. The organization serves as North Carolina’s statewide economic development organization, focusing on recruiting new business, expanding existing businesses, export assistance, small business development, and tourism promotion. The Winston-Salem Chamber recently welcomed CEO Chris Chung for a Leader’s Roundtable discussion.

Chris Chung and Mark Owens, President & CEO, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce

Chung says his organization manages approximately 200-300 leads annually to recruit companies to locate in North Carolina. About one in three of those leads will result in an economic expansion opportunity somewhere in the state.

On the retention side, the organization is also committed to taking care of companies who are already located in North Carolina, offering assistance to growing companies helping them to expand and add new jobs.

The organization assisted 600 companies last year with international trade deals, resulting in new sales revenue coming into North Carolina. The EDPNC also handles about 22,000 calls per year from people looking to start or grow a small business. The state’s $24 billion tourism industry is also managed by the EDPNC. 

Economic Development Trends in North Carolina

Chung says a major trend that the EDPNC has seen over the past 18 months is foreign companies looking to locate in North Carolina. The organization is currently handling about 260 projects in recruitment and expansion across the state, a number that’s up from last year. Chung attributes the interest from foreign companies to the current administration’s stance on trades and tariffs. The EDPNC has offices in Canada, the UK, China, Japan, Dubai, and Mexico to facilitate foreign business recruitment efforts.  

Chung’s insights on economic development opportunities in the Triad region specifically are positive. He says that companies are definitely noticing the advantages of the region when considering relocation and expansion opportunities. Because the Triad is located between a couple of the fastest-growing metro areas in the US in Charlotte and the Triangle, some companies may be swayed to those other locations believing there’s a more robust workforce. It’s the Triad’s job to tout our ideal location, lower facilities costs, and better cost-of-living in order to sway some of their decisions our way.

Locally, The Winston-Salem Chamber works closely with our businesses, local and state government entities, and other partners to find solutions for existing companies looking to expand. We help to promote our region as a great place to do business and make every effort to ensure that more and more of those companies seeking the ideal business environment will choose Winston-Salem/Forsyth County as their home. If you’re looking to expand locally, please contact the Chamber’s Jill Atherton. Your contact for relocation into Forsyth County is Winston-Salem Business Inc.

With North Carolina currently number one on the Forbes Best States for Business list, our economic opportunities here in the Triad and throughout the state are certainly promising.

For more information, visit the Economic Development Partnership of NC online.

Special thanks to Inmar and Winston-Salem Business Inc. for supporting the Leader’s Roundtable event.

Small Business Owners Form a Unique Healthcare Collaboration

With today’s Grand Opening of Health First Chiropractic and Rehab’s new location on Waughtown Street in Winston-Salem, the third piece of a truly innovative business model has officially opened its doors. Health First shares space with two other small healthcare businesses, forming a one-stop location that offers convenience to patients. 

Walking into the building at 512 Waughtown, a lofty and urban design welcomes you to the Nuestra Farmacia in the center, the LliBott Medical Clinic to the left, and Health First to the right. All three businesses are separately owned and operated, yet no interior doors block off one space from the next. Patients now have the ability to see Medical Doctors, Chiropractors, physical rehabilitation specialists, and a Pharmacist all in one location.  

The owners say this patient-centered healthcare facility is a model emphasizing care coordination and communication to transform primary care into what patients want it to be. Research shows that integrated healthcare facilities can lead to higher quality and lower costs, while improving patients’ and providers’ reported experiences of care. The new medical facility will be dedicated to focusing on a whole person, including family members, to optimize wellness and manage the challenges throughout each patient’s healthcare journey from prevention, injury care, illness treatment and beyond. You can visit the facility at 512 Waughtown Street, or find each provider online: 

Health First Chiropractic and Rehab
Nuestra Farmacia
LliBott Medical Clinic

 

Wake Forest Ranked Among the Top National Universities by U.S. News

U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges guide ranked Wake Forest University 27th overall among 312 national universities and 13th for its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Wake Forest was also ranked 27th in last year’s guide and has been ranked in the top 30 in the national universities category for 23 consecutive years.

“Our consistent inclusion among the best universities in the nation is a testament to the persistent and prevailing efforts of the Wake Forest community,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch. “Not only do we offer a multitude of opportunities to our students, I am proud that a Wake Forest education partners intellectual engagement with the cultivation of character, resulting in well-rounded leaders who invite others into genuine community and conversation.”

Wake Forest was included in the following U.S. News rankings:

  • 13th on the “Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching” list
  • 24th on the “Best Value Schools” list
  • 40th among national universities on the “High School Counselors’ Top Picks” list
  • 45th on the “Most Innovative Schools” list

This year’s guide also highlights the low student/faculty ratio (11 to 1) and the small classes that characterize the Wake Forest academic experience. Fifty-seven percent of undergraduate classes at Wake Forest have fewer than 20 students and only one percent of Wake Forest’s classes have more than 50 students, the lowest of any top-30 school.

The Wake Forest School of Business undergraduate program was ranked 35th, moving up five spots from last year. The school is ranked among the top 10 percent of undergraduate business programs for the 12th consecutive year.

The U.S. News rankings are posted on www.usnews.com.

About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.

Onboarding: Do Your New Employees Feel Welcomed?

So you have identified the best talent around and have taken the time to create an awesome recruiting experience to match them to available positions. You have selected the applicants that you can’t live without and they have aptly signed on the dotted line to accept your offers. As the hiring manager, what do you do now?

Your recruiting strategy should not end at the job offer. The onboarding process not only affects the employee’s perception of the company, but impacts how productive they will be in the role. Onboarding is the second more important HR practice behind recruiting. We all have experienced watching outdated training videos and reading textbook-sized policy handbooks. To improve your onboarding experience, here are some key things to keep in mind:

1. Keep the Enthusiasm High

Recruiters love to court candidates early on in the hiring process, learning about the candidate and sharing information about the company. Their enthusiasm throughout this process makes candidates feel wanted and helps them decide whether to accept an offer. The new hire wants to continue to feel this excitement through onboarding to reinforce their decision. Some companies create GIFs and videos of the entire team welcoming new hires to the company. Everyone’s dancing and handmade signs may be cheesy but they are humorous and ease the terror of the unknown when starting a new job.

This may be extreme for some businesses but can start with simply extending a welcome to the new hire pre-onboarding and letting them know that everyone is excited to meet and work with them. Also, the hiring manager should let them know what to expect during onboarding and connect them to whomever will lead that process. There is nothing worse than feeling handed over to a complete stranger.

2. Schedule 1-on-1 Time with Direct Managers

LinkedIn’s recent study, “Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate”, found that the majority of new employees agree that time with their direct manager was the most important aspect of the onboarding process. This helps the new hire better understand the company’s mission and their manager’s vision, as well as how they fit into the greater organization. This should be scheduled early in the onboarding process as it sets the tone for other activities and helps the new employee better understand what is expected of them. This also allows both parties to get to know each other better and create natural connections.

3. Make an Agenda for the First Few Weeks

The first few weeks after starting a new job can be very awkward for new employees. Extensive time is often spent trying to figure out exactly what work to do, where the office supplies are stored, how to use the phone system and who to go to for help. Plan an agenda for new employees for the first several weeks. Schedule meetings to introduce the new employee to key staff members and clients, and plan tours of the office and important facilities. Providing an agenda helps give the new employee direction until they establish their own routine. It also prevents them from feeling neglected or lost which could dampen their outlook on the job and the organization.

4. Introduce the New Employee to the Community

Starting a new job can be scary, especially if it involves moving to a new city. Winston-Salem is a great city but to a newcomer it can be difficult to find your place in the community. Employers must take the time to introduce new hires to local points of interest, neighborhoods, and watering holes. Take them to lunch or dinner, and give them a tour of the community. Invite them to events like “Welcome to Winston”, recently held by the Chamber of Commerce at a Dash baseball game, to connect newcomers to local organizations and businesses.

We have an amazing community that has something for everyone and we all must work together to ensure that new and relocated workers feel welcomed in Winston-Salem and see our companies as places for them to prosper. If your company needs extra help or direction with recruitment and retention, please remember to utilize the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce which is dedicated to supporting local businesses and growing our employment base.


Walter Farabee, Director of Talent Retention and Recruitment, covers issues related to developing the talent pool in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. He’s a part of the collaborative working group, Piedmont Triad Talent Alignment Strategy.

WSFCS: How our Schools are Performing and Improving

Chamber staff were present for an announcement by Dr. Bev Emory, WSFCS Superintendent, on the results of the School Performance Grades for the 2017-18 school year. These grades, ranging from A to F, reflect a combination of student proficiency (80%) and student growth (20%). The grades are designed to provide a brief snapshot of student academic performance.

For 2017-18, 8 (11%) traditional schools in WS/FCS received an SPG of A, 13 (18%) received a B, 19 (26%) received a C, 21 (29%) received a D, and 11 (15%) received an F. These results are similar to last year’s distribution of grades for WS/FCS.

New this year, the state changed its calculation of the 4-year cohort graduation rate. The rate now includes the graduation status of students who transfer into a district behind in credits, so a decrease is to be expected. In 2017-18, seniors in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools graduated at a rate of 84.4%, down slightly from 86.5% in 2016-17.  Over time, the district has improved its graduation rate by almost 14 percent, up from 70.8% in 2008. Comparatively, North Carolina recorded a graduation rate of 86.3% in 2017-18.

While the district hoped to meet its goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2018, several high schools already have graduation rates above 90%: Atkins A&T, Early College of Forsyth, Middle College of Forsyth, Mount Tabor, J. F. Kennedy, Reagan, and West Forsyth.  Given the unexpected changes in rate calculation, the district is looking to extend the districtwide goal of a 90% graduation rate. 

The district recognizes the efforts of community partners to help improve the student success rate. The United Way of Forsyth County, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Graduate. It Pays, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and The Forsyth Promise each continue to support programs to help students graduate.

For additional NC ESSA Accountability results, visit www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting.

Improving Results – What’s Next?

“We are not satisfied with these district results. We feel a strong sense of urgency to improve support for schools so that we can address student outcomes,” stated Emory.

District leadership recognizes many of these scores require a sense of resolve to address support and monitoring services to help schools improve student outcomes. Using the successful schools as role models, the district hopes to replicate and scale up the approach taken by schools with proven track records or recent improvement.

Inspire340 provides support to schools within Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools that have the federal designation of being a Priority or Focus school. Inspire340 schools participate in additional professional development, and principals receive focused coaching leadership support. This initiative has become a model for enhanced and targeted support for all schools. In 2017-18, 13 of 15 Inspire340 schools either met or exceeded expected growth.

For more information regarding Inspire340 schools, please visit //www.wsfcs.k12.nc.us/Inspire340.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is announcing the launch of three targeted design teams to examine how the district provides support and holds schools accountable for imperative initiatives. The design teams will make recommendations for changes to processes, personnel, and organizational structure to enhance student opportunities for success. Some of the recommendations will be for immediate implementation, while others may have more long-term implications. Each design team has a unique focus expected to result in targeted, differentiated support for all schools:

  • Monitoring, Support, and Accountability: Develop a new system for monitoring schools’ implementation of imperative initiatives
  • Instruction and Innovation: Develop a new Central Office organizational structure encompassing Instructional Services and Instructional Technology
  • Equity, Access, and Acceleration: Develop an improved structure for increased access and acceleration opportunities for all students with a focus on underperforming subgroups

Design Teams will include central office staff, principals, teachers, other school-based personnel, and community members. They will have 60 days to complete their recommendations, which will be shared publically in early November.

To provide input on the future direction of district goals and initiatives, please complete the survey found at //bit.ly/WSFCSESSA.

2018 Winston Under 40 Leadership Award Honorees

The Winston-Salem Chamber is proud to present the Winston Under 40 Leadership Award honorees for 2018. The Chamber’s Winston Under 40 program, one of the community’s leading organizations for young professionals, honors outstanding individuals who exemplify qualities of strong leadership and community service. We believe that these individuals are making Winston-Salem a stronger community for all.

Applications were considered based upon professional and personal growth, civic leadership and volunteerism, desired impact on Winston-Salem’s future, and response to recent issues. This group of twenty young professionals have achieved a variety of notable professional accomplishments, and are making an impact through their participation in a multitude of local nonprofit and community organizations.

Themes of inclusivity, economic mobility, hunger and poverty, equality, healthcare, and childcare and educational opportunities were prevalent in the applicants’ answers about how they choose to dedicate their professional or personal time to improving Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

The honorees represent the workforce, with employers including large, medium, and small businesses as well as educational institutions, nonprofits, and local governments.

The honorees will be recognized at the 2018 Leadership Awards reception on October 4th at Forsyth Country Club. Please join us in celebrating the 2018 Winston Under 40 Leadership Award winners:

Latisha Alford | Wells Fargo

Jason Anderson | First Citizens Bank

Ben Bloodworth | Linville Team Partners

Heather Bolt Mikeal | Leonard Ryden Burr

Nicole Ducouer | IFB Solutions

Aaron Elizondo | Old Hickory Council, Boy Scouts of America

Alana James | Wake Forest University

C.J. Johnson | Winston-Salem Dash

Porsche Jones | Novant Health / BOND Basketball

Lawrence Matthews | Womble Bond Dickinson

Christopher Miles, M.D. | Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Will Partin |  Wexford Science & Technology

Evan Raleigh |  City of Winston-Salem

Lauren Rogers | Salem Academy & College

Jamie Rogers Southern | Bookmarks

Dominick D. Rolle, Ph.D. | Winston-Salem State University

Christian Schroeder | Visit Winston-Salem

Jessica Spencer | Forsyth District Attorney’s Office

Anthony Tang | Wake Forest University

Anna Wilmoth | Kaplan Early Learning Company

The 2018 Winston Under 40 Leadership Awards are made possible thanks to our Title Sponsor: BB&T, Hosting Sponsor: Forsyth Country Club, and Gold Sponsor: The Winston-Salem Dash. Supporting sponsorships are still available, and include a table at the awards ceremony. Visit winstonunder40.com for more information.

 

Independent Contractors – New DOL Guidance and Good News for Employers

Employment Law In Focus

Perhaps no other issue being pursued by the U.S. Department of Labor is as publicized these days as whether workers are properly classified as employees rather than independent contractors.  The issue has especially been developing since 2015 when the DOL issued a new Administrator’s Interpretation on the existing “economic realities” test for whether an individual should be an employee rather than contractor, summarizing the relevant case law by stating, “In sum, most workers are employees under the FLSA’s broad definitions.”

Although current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta withdrew that Interpretation in June 2017, the DOL has not issued any further guidance on the employer v. independent contractor issue for over a year.  The good news for employers is that this changed in July when the DOL issued Field Assistance Bulletin 2018-4, entitled Determining Whether Nurse or Caregiver Registries Are Employers of the CaregiverDespite its specific circumstance of determining whether caregivers placed by a registry are employees or contractors of that registry, the 2018 Bulletin provides employers with a new perspective regarding factors the DOL now deems important in making that determination.  And the bottom line is that this new perspective provides a number of guidelines that should help those employers who want to maintain independent contractor status with certain workers.

First, a quick review of the “economic realities” test

In short, the “economic realities” test consists of six primary factors, none of which alone are likely controlling but all of which should be considered in deciding whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor:

  1. Is the work an integral part of the employer’s business? [The less integral the better for independent contractor status.]

2. Does the worker’s managerial skill affect the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss? [The more workers manage their own business regarding profits and losses, the better for independent contractor status.]

3. How does the worker’s relative investment compare to the employer’s investment? [The smaller the worker’s investment the better for independent contractor status.]

4. Does the work performed require special skill & initiative? [The more specialized the skill & initiative, the better for independent contractor status.]

5. Is the relationship between the worker and the employer permanent or indefinite? [The more indefinite (and generally short-term), the better for independent contractor status.]

6.What is the nature and degree of the employer’s control? [The less control over the worker the better for independent contractor status.]

Notice that whether or not an individual has an independent contractor agreement isn’t even an itemized consideration.  The reason is that while agreements like that can certainly help – and are generally recommended – the critical inquiry is how individuals are actually treated and conduct themselves in the workplace.  In other words, the “economic realities” of the relationship, not what someone is called by agreement or otherwise.

“Totality of the circumstances” approach

The 2018 Bulletin says that the Wage and Hour Division “will consider the totality of the circumstances to evaluate whether an employment relationship exists… Because the analysis does not depend on any single factor, and because caregiver registries operate in a variety of ways, [the Division] will evaluate all factors…to reach appropriate conclusions in each case.”

According to the 2018 Bulletin, “consistent with the WHD’s longstanding position, a registry that simply facilitates matches between clients and caregivers – even if the registry also provides other services, such as payroll services – is not an employer under the FLSA.”  However, in the registry and caregiver context the employment determination “requires a thorough analysis of…business model[s] and operations  . . .  [and] no one factor is dispositive.”

Specific issues related to the health care registry industry

The 2018 Bulletin consists of two parts, with Part I among other things reiterating how the “economic realities” of the circumstances control with no single factor conclusively determining the employee v. independent contractor issue.  Part II addresses common registry business practices that are generally analyzed when making that determination, and cites the following as a non-exhaustive list:

Conducting Background and Reference Checks: Performing a background check to confirm a caregiver’s credentials and collect objective information, such as a criminal history and credit report, by itself does not indicate an employment relationship. However, a more detailed selection process that includes subjective criteria, such as interviewing a candidate to screen for a certain personality trait, may in fact do so.

Hiring and Firing: Generally, a registry does not exercise control over hiring and firing a caregiver. Rather, the registry informs its client that a potential caregiver meets the client’s parameters and preferences, and then the client may choose to hire the caregiver. However, if the registry takes a more active role in the hiring and firing process, it may indicate control over that process and suggest an employment relationship.

Scheduling and Assigning Work: While a registry often facilitates initial communications between a client and a caregiver, the subsequent conversations to structure the terms of the working relationship are normally independent of the registry.  In those circumstances, the registry is not an employer of the caregiver. That being said, if a registry is more involved in the process, such as offering specific work assignments to a subset of caregivers based on its discretion and judgment, an employment relationship might exist as the caregiver may economically depend on the registry’s subjective preferences and decisions.

Controlling the Caregiver’s Work: A registry usually does not exercise control over a caregiver by monitoring the caregiver’s work habits, providing training, establishing policies for providing services in a particular manner, or evaluating performance. However, the more any such control does exist then the more likely an employment relationship might exist.

Setting the Pay Rate: A registry may provide advice concerning typical pay rates to serve as a benchmark during wage negotiations or may act as a liaison between a client and a caregiver during such negotiations, but the client and caregiver usually independently determine the caregiver’s rate of pay. If a registry designates a set wage range or offers tailored direction concerning what a caregiver should charge for specific services, an employment relationship may exist.

Receiving Continuous Payments for Caregiver Services: A registry may charge clients a one-time, upfront fee for the service of matching the client and a caregiver. It may also charge fees for administrative functions, such as processing payroll or producing tax documents. Any such charges do not indicate that a registry is a caregiver’s employer – however, if the caregiver’s pay depends in part on the amount the registry charges then those charges may indicate that the registry is the caregiver’s employer.

Paying Wages: A registry may perform payroll functions on behalf of a client without becoming an employer of the caregiver. However, a registry’s direct payment of its own funds to a caregiver may indicate an employment relationship, even if the client reimburses the registry.

Tracking Caregiver Hours: A registry may collect time sheets from caregivers or offer an electronic time verification system without suggesting an employment relationship. However, a registry’s active creation and verification of a caregiver’s time records may indicate an employment relationship.

Purchasing Equipment and Supplies: A registry’s operational expenses (e.g., investments in office space, payroll software, timekeeping systems, etc.) do not alone indicate an employment relationship. Similarly, a registry may provide caregivers the option to purchase discounted equipment or supplies without indicating an employment relationship.  However, a registry making an investment in a caregiver’s training, licensure, insurance, or other tools necessary for the caregiver to perform the job may indicate an employment relationship.

Receiving EINs or 1099s: The fact that a registry requires an Employer Identification Number issued by the Internal Revenue Service or distributes an IRS 1099 form to a caregiver is immaterial in ascertaining whether the registry is an employer of the caregiver under the FLSA.

Regardless of its specific focus on the relationship between registries and caregivers, the DOL’s July 2018 Bulletin at least indicates that the Department is returning to a “totality of the circumstances” standard for determining whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor.  If so, that’s good news for employers, and the Bulletin provides a useful general framework for any company seeking to maintain an independent contractor relationship with certain workers.

Contacts for Additional Information:

Ken Carlson – Winston-Salem Office
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
[email protected]; (336) 721-6843

Ellen Kearns, Chad McDaniel – Boston Office
Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP
[email protected]; [email protected]; (617) 849-7870

Don’t Ignore Your Personal Property Tax Bill for Your Business

Hopefully, it will come as no surprise that business owners have to pay property tax on their business personal property, such as furniture, machinery and equipment, computers, and more. Because bills for property taxes are normally sent to taxpayers in either July or August, now is an ideal time to review your business personal property tax liabilities.

Don’t let that bill get lost among a stack of paperwork — business personal property tax bills start the clock on the 30-day period during which you can appeal the assessed value of your business personal property. Failure to file an appeal during this 30-day window means you have forever waived your right to contest the property taxes relating to your business personal property for that year.

Certain industries — especially ones where expensive equipment, machinery and/or technology are critical to a business’s operations — are more frequently overtaxed on business personal property than others. If your business is within the manufacturing, industrial, biotechnology, medical or other sector requiring equipment or machinery with a high price tag, you may be paying more in taxes than you need to on business personal property.

What is Business Personal Property?

Just to be clear: what’s the difference between “real property” and “personal property?” Business real property is land and the buildings on the land used in a business. Business personal property is anything else that is not real property. Some of this business personal property could be “intangible,” which is typically property you cannot touch or feel, like intellectual property, such as trademarks, or computer software, or financial assets.

Most, but not all, intangible business personal property is exempt from property taxation. Tangible business personal property is property that you can touch and feel, such as machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, computer hardware, and more. Most tangible business personal property is taxable for property tax purposes.

How is Business Personal Property Taxed in North Carolina?

When looking at how property is valued and taxed for property tax purposes, the same rules apply both to business real property and business personal property. In each case, the property is supposed to be valued by the tax assessor at its “fair market value” as of the assessment date, which is typically January 1.

Once the property is valued, the tax rate applied to determine the tax owed is the same — regardless of whether you are talking about business real property or business personal property. However, when looking at how “fair market value” is determined for each and the timing of filing an appeal for each if you don’t agree with the tax assessor’s value, there are substantial differences.

For business personal property, determining fair market value is not as simple as it is for real property, for several reasons. First, while there are lots of different types of business real property (office buildings, apartments, and industrial buildings), the number and variety of business personal property is considerably more extensive. Second, there is less agreement on the methodology to determine fair market value for business personal property. Third, while there are appraisers who specialize in business personal property appraisal, their numbers are considerably fewer, and the tax assessor is less likely to be persuaded by a third-party personal property appraisal, in my experience.

In an effort to bring order to the determination of “fair market value” to business personal property in North Carolina and, in particular, to make the valuation of business personal property equitable across the State, the NC Department of Revenue (DOR) has suggested — tax assessors read this as “has required” — that counties value business personal property utilizing the following methodology.

  1. 1. The taxpayer is required each January to file a form listing all of its taxable business personal property at such properties’ original cost — what it paid for the property no matter how long ago.
  2. 2. The tax assessor takes the original cost and depreciates it, according to certain depreciation tables developed by the DOR. 
  3. 3. The resulting value is assumed to be “fair market value” and the property is taxed accordingly.

Note that, unlike depreciation for income tax purposes, business personal property never depreciates to zero for property tax purposes. It always retains some residual value until it is taken out of service or sold.

Why Business Personal Property Value is Often Not Accurate

In my view, despite the DOR’s best efforts, the determination of fair market value for business personal property using this methodology is rarely correct. I believe that the depreciation schedules authored by the DOR are not detailed enough to adequately value the wide variety of such property. For example, one depreciation table developed by the DOR is “Miscellaneous Manufacturing,” which table instructs that equipment used in the manufacture of a laundry list of consumer goods depreciate at the exact same rate over the same useful life. Whether manufacturing costume jewelry or a guitar, the table assumes your equipment depreciates over a 12-year life to a residual value of 25%. When painting with such a broad brush, it would take luck to get it right.

Additionally, the DOR methodology fails to adequately approximate the substantial obsolescence inherent in such property. Given that, the tax value of virtually all business personal property is overstated. That being said, the total value of a taxpayer’s business personal property may not be substantial compared with the value of its business real property. So, even though the value of the business personal property may be substantially wrong, it doesn’t result in a large amount of tax and, thus, the cost of appealing the value outweighs the benefit of the tax savings achieved by getting the value reduced.

Where the value of a taxpayer’s business personal property is significant, however, it is important to do a cost benefit analysis to determine if an appeal makes sense.

That brings us back to the title of this article. Once business personal property is listed in January, the taxpayer, unfortunately, doesn’t get back from an assessor a letter saying, “the value of your business personal property is $X and if you want to appeal that value, you must do so by X date.”

Instead, the first notice a taxpayer receives regarding the value of his business personal property is the tax bill he receives in July or August. And, on that bill, in not-too-large type will be a notice that any appeal of the value must be filed within 30 days of the date of the bill. Oftentimes, the bill comes in, it is put on someone’s desk for action later, and, by the time it is addressed, the time for filing an appeal has run out.

So, now is the time. Find that property tax bill sitting on someone’s desk, give it a careful read, and make a determination before the appeal period runs out whether an appeal is merited.

About the Author: John Cocklereece of Bell, Davis & Pitt

John A. Cocklereece, Jr. is a director and attorney at the law firm of Bell, Davis & Pitt, P.A., with offices in Winston-Salem and Charlotte. He focuses his legal practice on estate planning and administration, tax law, property tax appeals and general business law. Cocklereece, who has practiced law in Winston-Salem for 35 years, is a former Chairman of the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.

 

Sawtooth School for Visual Art: Fall Semester Preview

Sawtooth School for Visual Art, a non-profit community art school, has released its fall lineup of classes, workshops and Taste of Art events. From a new program focused on addressing the lack of females in the filmmaking industry to making Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions available to all students of photo and digital classes, Sawtooth is pleased to announce an exciting fall ahead.

A highlight of the upcoming school year at Sawtooth is the new Girls and Production (G.A.P.) after-school program, held in conjunction with a/perture. G.A.P will equip high school girls with the skills needed to write, direct and produce short films and the confidence to pursue an education in filmmaking. Sawtooth and a/perture have designed G.A.P. to empower females to enter the film industry, where only 18% of above-the-line filmmaking positions are held by women.

Sawtooth is also pleased to announce that all students taking photo and digital classes will be granted access to the Adobe Creative Cloud, the entire collection of Adobe desktop and mobile apps (which typically costs $53 per month).

To showcase classes and workshops that will be held at the school this fall, Sawtooth will hold an Art in the Evening open studio event on Thursday, Sept. 13. Held from 5 – 7 p.m, Art in the Evening provides the opportunity to explore Sawtooth’s robust offerings with studio demonstrations. As a bonus, attendees who register for a class during the open house will receive a free Sawtooth membership (valued at $35), which provides a class discount. This event is free and open to the public.

This fall Sawtooth will offer an expanded portfolio of Taste of Art classes, two-hour sessions focused on creating an art piece — with no prior experience in the discipline required. Taste of Art sessions will be held on nine Fridays this fall with projects such as a lazy susan, cutting board, berry bowl, silk scarf dyeing, holiday ornaments and sterling silver rings.

The Davis Gallery at Sawtooth will feature an exhibit called “Landscape and Memory,” running Sept. 7 to Oct. 30. The exhibit will showcase art from Weston Hammond and Tom Suomalainen. Weston Hammond is a visual artist and art educator who explores light, landscape and materials in his work. Weston, who lives in England, will teach a workshop in September on Landscape and Memory at Sawtooth. Tom, who has worked with clay for more than 50 years, was the first full-time instructor at the Arts and Craft Association, which eventually became Sawtooth. Tom will teach a Handbuilding Workshop at Sawtooth in October. The opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sept. 7 from 5 – 7 p.m. Both artists will participate in an Artists on Art event, a dialogue about the artists’ creative processes and influences, on Oct. 11 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

New this year, Sawtooth now offers classes in lapidary, the art of working with stones, minerals and gemstones. These new classes required the purchase of new specialized lapidary equipment, which was made possible through a generous gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

The full catalog of fall programming, which features almost 70 classes and more than 50 workshops, can be found at www.sawtooth.org/classes.

The Chamber’s Volunteer Programs Create Lasting Impact for Students

The Winston-Salem Chamber continues to see impactful results from its two major initiatives supporting public education in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. The Chamber recruits volunteers from the business community to go into schools and interact with students. By linking the business community to our schools, we help to develop a stronger, better-prepared workforce and encourage everyone across the community to take part in our students’ success.

Become a volunteer this school year

The Corporate Volunteers Program encourages reading proficiency by pairing volunteers with students in Kindergarten through second grade. Volunteers meet with the students for weekly sessions using a teacher-designed reading curriculum. The Corporate Volunteers Program supports the WS/FCS goal of 90 percent reading proficiency among third graders by 2020.

During the 2017-18 school year, more than 300 volunteers from 83 businesses and organizations participated in the Corporate Volunteers program. Students were selected for the program based on their beginning-of-year reading screenings. At the end of the school year, 61% of students improved either one level in their reading skills, or reached proficient levels; (192 of 317 K-2 students). Kindergarten students remain the highest number of students served by the program; 73% improved one reading level or reached proficiency at the end of the year. (167 of 228 kindergarten students). The Corporate Volunteers Program is sponsored by Kaplan Early Learning Company.

The Senior Academy Program pairs volunteers with students who are at-risk of dropping out or not graduating on time. This program supports the WS/FCS goal of achieving a 90 percent graduation rate. Mentors meet with students once a week through the school year, helping students to set goals and implement plans to meet graduation requirements and plan for college or a career path. 

In 2017-18, the program served a total of 112 students: 102 seniors and 10 juniors. Of the 102 senior students, 100 students have graduated, are graduating, or are on-track to graduate – which includes 4th, 5th, & 6th year graduates, those who attended summer school, and students expected to return for the 2017-18 year – yielding a 98% program graduation rate.

We hope you will join us as a volunteer in the Corporate Volunteers Program or Senior Academy this school year, and help to make our impact grow!

The Chamber facilitates a variety of other programs to support our education system and integrate the business community into schools. To learn more, contact Rodessa Mitchell at 336-728-9222 or [email protected]