PART, which stands for “Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation,” is hoping Guilford County voters – as well as voters in the other central North Carolina counties served by the Authority – will at some point vote to approve a sales tax increase to improve regional transportation.

 However, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners shot down the idea of having that local sales tax option placed on this year’s ballot when they discussed the matter at a Thursday, April 18 Board of Commissioners work session.

The PART board hasn’t voted to request that the tax increase be placed on the ballot this year or any other year yet, however, some Guilford County commissioners, who had heard the request may be coming, brought the matter up at the April 18 work session and wanted to nip it in the bud, at least for now.

An appeal might go better in another PART county, but it will be a no-go this year in Guilford County.

If the PART sales tax hike increase went on the November ballot, then there would be two sales tax hikes on the ballot this year – one meant to enhance public transportation in the region, and one, which will in fact be on the ballot, requesting a quarter-cent sales tax increase to help support Guilford County Schools.

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said on Monday, April 22, that he can’t speak for other counties in the PART service area, but he can speak for Guilford County – and, he said, voters will not see both a school tax hike referendum and a transportation tax hike referendum on the 2024 ballot.

“The people voted down the previous sales tax increase to help pay for new schools,” Alston said. “So, we can’t come back and put two  sales tax increases on the next ballot and say, ‘OK, now approve both of these.’”

He said that would be a death blow to the chances of both.

Alston serves as the Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ representative to the PART board, and he said he’d had a conversation with other PART board members. He told them that this year was not the right time for a sales tax increase supporting regional transportation to be on the ballot.

Several other county commissioners who spoke on the matter at the April 18 work session also expressed the view that it would be premature to put two sales tax hike options on the November ballot.

If the measure does show up on the ballot in a future year, and gain approval by voters, the proceeds would be used to strengthen public transportation choices in the region.