People may love a parade, but, based on statewide voter results in the November general election this year, there’s one thing that North Carolina voters don’t like very much right now: a quarter-cent sales tax hike.
A sales tax increase was on the ballot in Guilford County in the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election, but voters smacked that proposal down in a big way – even though the revenue was supposed to be directed to funding a $300 million school bond referendum that those same voters did pass.
Guilford County voters weren’t alone in that regard. Four other counties in the state also had sales tax increases on the ballot in November, and all four of those were voted down as well. Alleghany, Carteret, Chowan and Yadkin counties all had unsuccessful referendums that would have meant sales tax increases.
Sometimes, however, North Carolina citizens do vote themselves an increase in the sales tax. In the March primaries this year, a sales tax increase was on the ballot in eight counties and half of those passed.
The failure of all the recent November attempts may be due to people worrying about finances due to the continuing pandemic or it may be that it’s easier to pass the measure when a smaller pool of voters will show up at the polls – and it is, therefore, easier to motivate a smaller base in favor of the measure.
In 2007, the NC General Assembly passed legislation that gave counties a local quarter-cent sales tax option – which must be approved by voters in a referendum before it can be put into place.
At a mid-November Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting after the election, many of the commissioners expressed a desire to petition state legislators to change one part of the law. Many commissioners felt that the sales tax hike would have passed if language on the ballot saying the money would be used for school needs were allowed as part of the ballot item. Currently, a county isn’t allowed to state on the ballot how it intends to use the additional revenue.