Local Politics

Durham County won't put added sales tax on ballot

Posted July 30, 2010

— The Durham County Board of Commissioners decided Thursday against having local voters decide in November whether they want to add a quarter-cent to the local sales tax rate.

In 2007, state lawmakers gave cash-strapped counties the option of asking voters if they would agree to a land-transfer tax or a higher sales tax to help deal with growth issues like building new schools and roads and extending water and sewer lines.

The land-transfer tax has been defeated every time it's been put on the ballot, and the quarter-cent sales tax idea has failed 44 of 60 times.

Ten counties have already decided to put local-option sales taxes on the November ballot, including Orange, Harnett and Robeson, but after much discussion this week, Durham commissioners decided not to pursue the tax, which officials said could raise nearly $8 million a year for schools.

"The timing was really not good for us right at this point," said Michael Page, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.

Durham Public Schools were faced with having to lay off hundreds of teachers this spring until the General Assembly allowed lottery money to go to teacher salaries and the Board of Commissioners raised property taxes. Retail sales generic, sales tax generic Duham officials say time wasn't right for tax increase

"Trying to stay away from raising property taxes is our main goal," Page said.

School district officials said they support the commissioners' decision and plan to continue to work with the board to find ways to fund the schools.

The commissioners are also exploring the idea of raising the tax on alcohol and cigarettes, and Page said they could look at putting the sales tax increase before voters next March.

Even then, voter approval could be tricky.

"I don't think that would be a good idea to raise sales tax. It's for a good cause, but I don't think it would be a good idea," Durham resident Beverly Depass said.

Some local residents say, however, that raising the sales tax makes sense.

"I don't think a quarter-cent on the dollar is that much of a hike, and it would probably make a big difference in the schools that really need it in this recession," Claire Vinson said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Vietnam Vet Jul 30, 2010

    What??? We aren't taxed enough already??? Maybe I just need to have my paycheck direct deposited with the state??

  • dryjr Jul 30, 2010

    Does anyone have a link to tax rankings per county/city? I think the combined city county property and other taxes are one of the highest in the state.

  • miketroll3572 Jul 30, 2010

    Yep, political suicide!

  • WooHoo2You Jul 30, 2010

    Wait, they are NOT raising taxes and people are still complaining?!?

  • Weaker Pelosi Jul 30, 2010

    Durham had better be glad it is and election year, otherwise, TAX HIKE. Just wait till 2011.

  • yankee1 Jul 30, 2010

    Just remember the old adage" socialism works fine until the Government runs out of other people's money"! We are quickly approaching that point.

  • Tax Man Jul 30, 2010

    Good thing or they might be looking for new jobs. We are already one of the highest taxed counties in NC - much higher than Wake but with less quality of services! They raised our property taxes so they are already getting a windfall on our homes, cars, boats etc. It would have been a losing proposition anyway! Sales taxes are already way too high - should have been back to 6% by now, but the politicians keep breaking their promises! Bunch of crooks!

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jul 30, 2010

    I'm not anti tax, but what is now, 8%? That's just too high, especially for a state with income tax. Gov't should provide needed services, and even some common services that the majority desires, as inexpensively as possible and then just tax in a simple, straight forward way.

  • HUUUH Jul 30, 2010

    Durham just finished raising property taxes, what do you think the chances are they'd vote in another tax!

  • meh2 Jul 30, 2010

    Of course not. But they will raise property taxes every chance they get - socialism is not inexpensive.