Local Politics

Wake Eyes Local Sales Tax for School Construction

Posted March 18, 2008

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— Wake County is considering placing a local-option sales tax on the November ballot to help pay for a growing list of school construction and renovation projects.

State lawmakers last year began allowing counties to seek voter approval for local sales taxes or land transfer taxes to pay for growth-related needs like new schools, expanded roads or more water and sewer lines.

County Manager David Cooke on Tuesday spelled out the benefits of dedicating the proceeds from a 0.25-cent sales tax to school building needs. The tax could raise $831 million to $990 million over the next 20 years, likely knocking 3 to 3.2 cents off the tax rate needed to pay for an estimated $11.7 billion in school construction costs, he said.

Wake County's Board of Commissioners supported the concept of a local tax for school and road needs even before the General Assembly approved the specific taxes, and board Chairman Joe Bryan said he still supports putting a local sales tax to a vote this fall.

"Sales tax is one of those sources of revenue, with a vote of the public, that would help us instead of having to look only at the property tax," Bryan said. "Over the next seven to eight years, the tax rate will go up 17 cents to just meet what has been approved in the past, unless we have other sources of revenue."

School bond issues totaling about $3 billion will likely appear on local ballots in the next decade, he said, and property tax rates will have to go up to pay off those bonds as well without other funding options, he said.

"If we don't address the problem now, it's only going to get worse in the future," Wake County resident Virginia Parker said. "We're going to have a bigger hole we've got to dig ourselves out of."

Michael Sanera, research director and policy analyst for the conservative John Locke Foundation, said Wake County should slash its budget more instead of looking to raise taxes.

"With an economic downturn, an increase in taxes is not good," Sanera said.

If commissioners approve a sales tax referendum, Bryan said, the county will need to conduct a public campaign to sell the idea to voters.

Five of 16 counties approved sales tax referenda last fall, and 19 other counties have sales tax proposals on their ballots this May, including Cumberland, Edgecombe, Lee, Moore, Nash, Wayne and Wilson counties.


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  • ezLikeSundayMorning Mar 19, 2008

    WXYZ, hey I like all that downsizing of the cars, using less gas, and polluting less.

    I have to agree, I'm not inclined to vote for new taxes at this point. I strongly believe in basic education everyone, but its time for some real push back. A protest vote could send a clear message that WCPSS needs to do a much better job managing its budget.

    It makes me crazy to see how often they change text books. I know that doesn't pay for many buildings by itself, but there is an office somewhere that only selects new textbooks. Then they replace them too often, sometimes after two years, not because they are worn out or obsolete, but because there is an office that has to do something.

    Thinking the lottery would cover it is wishful thinking. Its not a Wake County lottery. The entire state lottery wouldn't cover the last bond for Wake county.

  • WXYZ Mar 19, 2008

    SCPSS is like a snow ball rolling down a hill. It gets bigger and bigger, grabbing more and more money, getting harder to control, wasting more and more and accomplishing less and less. We have to find ways to get more for our money, control population growth, utilize facilities more completely. They already got $37 million more this year than last due to taxation and STILL they want more. SOMEBODY tell these people that taxation is a MAJOR contributing factor to the economic disaster which has been worsening over the past 4 years; and tell them that thousands of people are losing their jobs, losing their homes, NOT getting pay raises which are equivalent to inflation, that the financial industry is in free-fall, which no end in sight. Well, goodbye to 6 and 8 cylinder vehicles--hello to 4 cylinder cars, 2 cylinder motorcycles, 1 cylinder scooters, 0 cylinder bicycles and retreaded sneekers and peanut butter sandwiches and soup.

  • Stormy13 Mar 19, 2008

    seeingthru: You said it! Johnston County is looking better and better!

  • common_sense_plz Mar 19, 2008

    Goodness, all Wake County is .. is a tax, tax county, we are already taxed to death as it is right now. Yeah I read the article on taxing of unspayed and unneurtered dogs and cats for the county, this is nuts. The problem with this is that most pet owners are responsible pet owners and there are some that are not. I will not vote for another tax, because if the county would stop spending on special projects, and such, there would be enough money to build schools. The fact remains that housing is in a slump, because due to economy and gas prices people cannot afford buy the homes in this area. every week foreclosures in the county continue to grow, and these forclosures are happening on unfinished homes, come on get a clue. come Nov. We really need to elect all new county comminishers to office, until we get the ones we have in there out, they are not doing us any favors. If we continue to get taxed like we are, we will not be albe to afford basic necessaties. we can barely do that now.

  • bettyboopr2 Mar 19, 2008

    Quit building museums for schools and get rid of the illegal students for starters. If I can get by with it I will not shop in Wake Co. anymore.

  • Here kitty kitty Mar 19, 2008

    They want to tax my cat, flush my garbage disposal and grab more tax money when I just paid $40+ for gas for the very first time last week (small car!). What next?

  • Scubagirl Mar 19, 2008

    I thought that was what the lottery was for! If not where is all that money going?

  • ANDY S Mar 19, 2008

    IMHO There is nothing worng with the tax itself, HOWEVER it will be a HUGE mistake if it will go to the existing WCPSS. The recent events clearly showed that WCPSS does not have any ability to manage their department effectively. The reassignment plan prepared by Department of Growth and Approved by the Board does not address real issues and just increases risk for children by putting them in FREE buses (in many cases up to 45+ minutes a day ONE way daily despite all warnings about road accidents, behavioural problems etc). I can understand that County Comissioners do not give WCPSS a taxation rights because new schools are being build in areas without proper growth analysis as it is publicly said that Department of Growth uses 12-years old data and software to do it. I would oppose any additional funding which will go to social engineering experiments like we have here in the Wake County. Also,(IMHO) - ALL Board Members have to be elected AT-Large.

  • Justin T. Mar 19, 2008

    I want to join the WCPSS Yacht Club.

    There must be some such scam that all of our bond, tax, and lottery money has been wasted on.

  • Garnerwolf1 Mar 19, 2008

    Not trying to be flippant here, but did you guys really think that the lottery was going to eliminate the constant requests for more money? That was just the ploy that was used to get the public to buy into it. Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken them this long to come up with this. As soon as the anti-year round crowd got the Judge on their side, it was only a matter of time... And this won't be the end of it either (even if it passes which I doubt. It has in other counties though).