North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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July 7, 1978

Subject:

Counties; Cities; Collection of Taxes; Interlocal Cooperation; G.S. 160A-460 et seq; G.S. 160A-146.

Requested By:

Robert C. Cogswell, Jr. City Attorney City of Fayetteville

Question:

May a city and the county in which it is situated enter into an interlocal undertaking under which the city agrees to designate the county tax collector as city tax collector?

Conclusion:

Yes.

Article 20 of Chapter 160A of the North Carolina General Statutes, entitled Interlocal Cooperation, authorizes any unit of local government (defined in G.S. 160A-460 to include cities and counties) to enter into an agreement with any other such unit or units for the purpose of carrying on an undertaking. G.S. 160A-460 defines an undertaking as

"the joint exercise by two or more units of local government, or the contractual exercise by one unit for one or more other units, or any administrative or governmental power, function, public enterprise, right, privilege, or immunity of local government."

Since taxation is a governmental power and function, a contractual arrangement for the collection of taxes-including an agreement whereby one unit of local government designates another unit's tax collector as its own - would seem to be the very kind of interlocal undertaking contemplated by Article 20.

G.S. 160A-146, Council to organize city government, in no way defeats the conclusion that such an agreement is a proper one. G.S. 160A-146 relates only to the powers of the city council with respect to the allocation of duties within municipal government. It has no application to the matter of interlocal cooperation, which is governed exclusively by G.S. 160A-460 et seq. Moreover, even if G.S. 160A-146 were applicable, it would not be violated by the agreement in question. The office of city tax collector is not abolished by the agreement, nor are the duties of the city tax collector assigned elsewhere. The position continues to exist; it is simply occupied by an individual who happens also to serve as county tax collector.

Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General

Marilyn R. Rich Associate Attorney