April 3, 2014 By Port City Daily staff
The Wilmington Police Department will add four new bicycles to its fleet, at a cost of $6,676 covered by drug tax revenues.
That’s money from taxes on confiscated illegal drugs, assessed and collected by N.C. Department of Revenue (DOR) and paid to the investigating agency whose work led to the bust.
That’s the WPD in this case.
The new bikes, Trek models, will replace older units that officers had wheeled around downtown, Deputy Chief of Police Marshall Williamson said Tuesday before Wilmington City Council approved the expense.
But the old bikes will roll on, he noted. The plan is to store them around Wilmington’s northwest command area for neighborhood patrols.
“The Police Department feels that having access to more bicycles would encourage our members to get out and about the various communities and would provide the ability to better access to some neighborhood areas not accessible by vehicle,” the spending request stated.
WPD is purchasing the bikes from Two Wheeler Dealer on Wrightsville Avenue.
Williamson said storing the bikes on or near patrol sites as such (per agreements WPD has with area 24-hour storage facilities) would spare the police cruisers from being modified with bike mounts.
The request also noted related savings in vehicle fuel.
About the funding source
DOR collects taxes on illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine and on illicit spiritous liquor like moonshine.
“The tax is due by any individual who possesses an unauthorized substance upon which the tax has not been paid, as evidenced by a stamp,” the state’s guidelines say.
The tax rates vary based on the drug type and volume. The tax on a gram of cocaine, for instance, is $50. A gram of marijuana is supposed to bring $3.50.
Individuals who come into possession of illegal drugs are supposed to pay the tax within 48 hours. Generally, DOR assesses those in possession after a bust. Seventy-five percent of the tax income goes back to the state or local law enforcement agency credited, while the remaining
25 percent goes to the state’s general fund.
The state asserts that individuals who pay the drug tax aren’t required to give their name or other identifying info; those who pay the drug tax receive a stamp to show for it (and that stamp must be permanently affixed to the illegal substance, which remains illegal despite the owner’s diligence).