Local Politics

Wake Weighs Putting Local Sales Tax on Ballot

Posted December 28, 2007
Updated December 29, 2007

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— Wake County officials plan to meet in the coming weeks to discuss the possibility of putting a local-option sales tax on the ballot later in the year.

The quarter-cent sales tax was one of two revenue options state lawmakers included in last year's budget to help counties deal with growth-related needs like new schools, better roads and more water and sewer lines.

Eight counties put the sales tax on the November ballot, and voters in five counties – Sampson, Pitt, Catawba, Martin, and Surry – approved the measure.  Meanwhile, voters in all 16 counties that considered a tax on real estate sales soundly defeated the proposals.

The sales tax could generate about $32 million a year in added revenue for Wake County, while a land transfer tax could net the county $49 million a year, officials said.

Wake County commissioners first need to determine how to use any additional revenue – schools, roads or something else – before deciding which tax to pursue and asking voters for their approval, County Manager David Cooke said

"What we've done is watch what other counties have done," Cooke said. "Once we identify what needs are there, then we can go to the community and say, 'Here are your choices, and here's how we can pay for these needs.'"

Board of Commissioners Chairman Joe Bryan said he believes the tax debate requires more discussion before it requires action.

"Neither the sales tax or the land transfer tax answer everything," Bryan said. "That's just one additional tool to build infrastructure or keep your tax rate as low as possible."

The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners estimates at least 20 counties will ask voters for the sales tax hike in 2008.

"I think a sales tax probably has a better chance than a real estate transfer tax, simply because it's broad-based," political consultant Brad Crone said.

Next year is probably the best time to put any tax referendum on the ballot, Crone said, noting it would fall between the $900 million school bond approved in 2006 and another possible school bond issue on the 2009 ballot.

"From a political calendar standpoint, you've got to look at passing it in 2008 when voters go to the polls because of voter fatigue with that many issues," he said.

But Bryan said asking people next fall to raise the local sales tax might be too much in a short time.

"I don't think the public is quite ready for that, personally," he said.

63 Comments

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  • WXYZ Dec 30, 2007

    Hmmmm.... Let's see.... Seems to me that the sales tax rate has been INCREASED EVERY YEAR during Easley's term in office. A meal at a restaurant now carrys a 7.25% tax! The state budget has has a surplus at or over $1,000,000,000 all but one year over the past decade. The state budget has been more than doubled over the past 10 years, spending ALL of the surplus and concurrently raising ALL taxes and fees, nearly EVERY YEAR. The tax and spend policies of the Easley Legislature have FAR exceeded the rate of inflation, rate of population growth, wage increases. Has ANYONE else been paying attention to the run-away tax and spend state government we have? Are there really that many people who want government to completely take over our lives? And, by the way, your property tax bill has been and will continue to increase, nearly every year! Can you see where the state is going to spend over $20,000,000,000.00 over the next fiscal year? If so, please tell me...

  • WRALSUCKS Dec 29, 2007

    Keep voting Democrat, and this is what we get!

  • Jh5230 Dec 29, 2007

    just great, tax and spend. These people are something else.

  • blisstate Dec 29, 2007

    Reality check: NC revenue has long been manufacturing, textiles and tobacco. That money has moved over seas and replaced slightly with big business, but bureaucrats will not tax big business, soooooooo that leaves you to pay the bill.

  • grenlyn1 Dec 29, 2007

    HEY, WHAT'S LEFT TO RAISE? NOTHING, THEY JUST ABOUT COVERED IT ALL!!!

  • whatelseisnew Dec 29, 2007

    The answer to any new taxes (or fees which = taxes) is no. This will do nothing for property taxes, they will still raise them. It just gives them another way to get more money from us and not look for ways to save money. The county should press the state to do things that eliminate the need for more public schools for example tuition tax credits so people can send their kids to private schools and get them out of that public system. Also do not approve any new bond issues. The county and state needs to become debt free.

  • mvnull Dec 29, 2007

    "The property tax punishes only those that own property...."

    False. Do you think the landlords will pay for the tax out of the goodness of their hearts, or will they pass on the tax to the tenants? Everyone who rents or owns a house pays property taxes, although the renters don't get the tax deduction for it.

  • Riddickfield Dec 29, 2007

    Maybe they should look at building cheaper schools rather than raising taxes. I mean does each new school need to be designed from scratch? I think they could come up with standard design buildings for grammer, middle and high school buildings, take out a lot of the fluff from the construction and be able to stay within their existing budget. Neighboring counties are doint just this, but Wake has not for some reason.

  • WRALSUCKS Dec 29, 2007

    What?

    Wake county wants MORE taxes? Imagine that!!!!

    Who would believe that a demo-rat controlled bureaucracy wants to stick their hand AGAIN, into your wallet?

  • damfrisky33 Dec 29, 2007

    I thought that I saw recently that the State owes some taxes and suppose to pay to the schools money. However, it makes me sick what the Government is doing to us. First the school bond, now the properties, and we don't even know how much we will be paying yet. And now this... I have enough of this.. all they want is money and don't give us a chance to catch a breath. And they don't get what they want, they will find how to take it from you anyway, like the YR schools. First it was the bond or the schools will be converted. People voted for bonds but most of the schools end up beeing converted anyway.
    There is no Freedom here, it's worse than Communism.

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