Multiple times in the past, Guilford County voters have told the county commissioners that they don’t want a quarter-cent sales tax hike.
The county’s voters sent that exact same message in the Tuesday, May 17 election when nearly 55 percent of those voters said, once again, keep the sales tax rate where it is.
So, the county commissioners have finally heard that message and –
–and ignored it once again.
On Thursday, May 19 – just two short days after the quarter-cent sales tax hike went down in flames once again – Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston announced that he was trying to get the sales tax increase on the ballot in November for the general election this year.
Alston said at the May 19 commissioners meeting that the reason people keep voting the tax increase down is that they don’t understand how beneficial it would be to property owners and that the money would be used for school needs.
Despite what Alston says the money from the sales tax would not go to the schools. Sales tax revenue goes into the general fund along with property tax revenue and other sources of revenue. Money for the schools comes from the general fund, but dollars can’t be traced back to their source.
“The quarter-cent sales tax didn’t pass – that’s a loss to our property owners,” Alston said.
He added that it only makes sense that county residents should want to “share the tax burden with everyone who comes into the county,”
“That will take some responsibility off of our property owners,” Alston said.
According to Alston, he has been pushing state legislators to make a long-proposed change in state law that would allow language on the ballot that explains how the additional revenue will be used. Right now, that language is not allowed. He and some other county and school leaders would like a statement on the ballot that explains the money would be used for school needs.
“And, if we can get that done,” Alston said. “I think that people will recognize that it goes to schools and I think it will pass. If we can get that language on the ballot before November, we should look at it again for a November ballot.”
Alston also noted that this year the county commissioners pledged to drop the property tax rate if voters approved the sales tax increase. He said he would be prepared to make that same promise going into the November election.
Republican County Commissioner James Upchurch could only smile as Alston made his case. Upchurch predicted before the election that, if the sales tax hike failed, the Democratic commissioners would put it right back on the ballot.
“I want credit for that prediction,” Upchurch said after the meeting.
Upchurch also said before the election that the school bond would be right back on the ballot too if that failed. But that $1.7 billion ballot initiative passed so we will never know.