It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If that is indeed the case, then Guilford County is full of stark-raving mad leaders because the Chairman of the Guilford Board of Commissioners Skip Alston and other commissioners once again want to put a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in 2024.
School and county leaders have tried many times before to convince voters in Guilford County that they should approve the quarter-cent sales tax hike – though, time and time again, the voters have said no.
However, Alston and the other commissioners in favor of the idea may not be crazy after all. Alston said that, while the sales tax initiative has failed every time before, voters may choose differently in 2024.
In 2022, county voters approved the largest education bond referendum in the history of the state, but also voted down the sales tax increase that was meant to help pay off that debt.
Alston said Guilford County government now has a plan to cover the debt for the $2 billion in school bond referendums of the last three years and therefore the $20 million or so in additional revenue each year from a sales tax hike could be used for other purposes.
“We don’t have to designate it for school debt,” Alston said.
He said one promising possibility is to commit the money toward higher pay for teachers and other school employees.
Alston added that that could make the tax increase much more palatable for voters.
“They say they love the teachers so much and they deserve higher pay,” he said, “Well, here’s $20 million a year for that purpose.”
He said everyone in the county knows that the Guilford County Schools’ “classified” workers – such as bus drivers, cafeteria workers and janitorial staff – are severely underpaid, and this new revenue stream could help raise that pay.