Gaston County discovered a mistake that gave some of its residents free fire protection.
For years, some homes have been hidden from the tax office, just outside the McAdenville city limits.
But Tuesday, many people living in the 87 homes just west of the small town received a notice in the mail, and they weren’t happy.
“I have been living here for 40 years and I have never had to pay a tax like that. I don't understand really why it started,” Clyde Rayfield said.
Since 1999, homeowners and businesses in unincorporated areas of Gaston County have paid a fire service tax.
Eyewitness News checked on Rayfield's home with the county tax office and discovered from its earliest records, in 2003, he and his neighbors were listed on the McAdenville Fire Department District, but were never charged a tax for the service they received.
Fire Marshal Eric Hendrix said the county didn't catch the oversight until early this year, and now all 87 of those homes will need to pay the tax.
“The entire district is only going to generate about $5,300,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix said they will not ask for back taxes. They will simply start charging on Jan. 1.
“We are trying to make this equitable and even across the county,” he said.
Homeowners can expect to pay $50 a year for $100,000 of property.
Roger Foster said that's too much.
“I think already taxes (are) too high,” he said.
He said he is on disability and that everyone there already donates to the local volunteer fire department.
“I don't think it's right,” Foster said. He plans to fight the tax.
Most people there said they will pay if they have to, but they want to know more about the county's plans.
The county will hold a public hearing about the fire tax next month. It will be on June 28 at 6 p.m. at the Gaston County courthouse.