There’s a $300 million school bond referendum on the ballot in Guilford County in November and there’s also a referendum to increase the sales tax in the county by a quarter of a cent – which is meant to help pay the cost of the school bond referendum should it pass.
Sales tax increases aren’t popular with citizens as a rule – Guilford County voters have always rejected a proposed hike in the past – however, this time around Guilford County is spending $50,000 from the county manager’s contingency fund to give voters about the facts about the sales tax.
When the Rhino Times asked Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne about the legality of spending taxpayer funds to promote the sales tax hike, Payne said there’s an important distinction to keep in mind. He said that it is legally permissible for the county to educate the citizens about the sales tax hike, and he said that the material presented by the county would be doing just that, rather than advocating for people to vote yes.
Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller, who’s overseeing the campaign to inform voters about the sales tax hike, said the county plans to do an ad buy for radio spots and social media. She said the videos and the sound clips will stick to the facts.
“It will be who, what, when, where,” Keller said.
Most, if not all, county commissioners and other county officials want the sales tax hike to pass, which is no doubt why they are hoping to “educate” voters about the referendum.
At a meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, Sept. 17, the board discussed some of the information that should be included in the message to voters. One point they wanted included was the fact that a good chunk of the county’s sales tax revenue comes from people who live outside of Guilford County. Some commissioners thought that number was about 40 percent of the county’s overall sales tax revenue each year; however, no one was certain and the commissioners directed the budget director to attempt to come up with the current actual percentage.