Say what you will about the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, but they don’t know how to take no for an answer.

At least not when it comes to sales tax increases.

That’s obvious because, many times before, the county commissioners have asked voters to approve a quarter-cent hike in the sales tax, and, time and again, the voters have said absolutely not.

The county can only increase the sales tax if voters approve it.

And the already heavily taxed citizens of the county and the cities within it, haven’t wanted to see this tax increase implemented.

At the board’s Thursday, April 18, afternoon work session, the Board of Commissioners didn’t officially vote to put the sales tax on the ballot, but the discussion made it clear the board is going to take another shot at getting voter approval on the November 2024 ballot.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston told the Rhino Times last year that he and other commissioners once again wanted to put a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in 2024, and, at the commissioners’ work session last week, county staff presented the timeline for what’s inevitably coming before voters later this year.

The quarter-cent sales tax increase, if it does pass, would give the board an estimated extra $25 million to spend.  That’s up from the $20-million estimate that was being spoken about two years ago when the measure failed.

  In 2022, the board put a historically large $1.7 billion school bond referendum on the ballot, and it also put the sales tax increase option on the ballot, with the idea that the money from the sales tax could help pay the bond debt.

Of course, as anyone could have predicted – because the county’s voters love school kids but don’t love taxes – they voted to approve the gigantic school bond, but voted down the method that was supposed to help pay the money back.

The timeline for the process this year was presented by county staff to the commissioners at the April 18 work session.

By August 1, the Board of Commissioners will notify the local and state boards of elections that it intends to place the sales tax referendum on the ballot.

The PowerPoint presentation from county staff optimistically stated the next step: “November 5, 2024, ‘Obtain voter approval in non-binding advisory referendum.’”

Then, once that passes, on December 9, 2024, the county will provide 10 days of public notice of the intent to adopt a resolution levying the new tax.

On December 30, the county will forward the adopted resolution to the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Then, on April 1, 2025, the collection of the new tax will begin.

So, on April Fool’s Day next year, sales taxes will increase – provided voters have a change of heart from all the times in the past when they’ve voted down the same sales tax hike.

Alston said last year that one promising way to convince voters to approve the measure is to commit the money toward “higher pay for teachers and other school employees.”

Alston added that that could make the sales tax increase much more palatable for voters than it would it is committed to school bond debt.

“They say they love the teachers so much and they deserve higher pay,” he said last year, “Well, here’s $20 million a year for that purpose.”