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Wake leaders vote down referendum to help fund teacher pay

Posted August 4, 2014

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— The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-2 against a proposed referendum on a one-quarter cent sales-tax increase that would help pay teacher salaries.

Had it been approved, voters on Nov. 4 would have been asked to approve the measure, which would earmark revenue from the tax increase to raise pay for teachers and hourly paid employees of the Wake County Public School System.

The county estimates that the sales-tax increase could bring in an additional $27 million in revenue.

Leaders in Mecklenburg and Guilford counties have already approved similar referendums.

But Wake County commissioners who voted against the referendum said they were reluctant to put the measure on the ballot after a referendum last year in which voters approved an $810 million school construction bond.

In addition, the county's annual budget, approved in June, also includes a 4.4-cent property tax rate increase to help pay for school construction and allots liquor tax money to fund teacher raises.

They reminded other commissioners that, although the county pays teacher supplements, it's the state's responsibility to fund teachers' base pay.

Commissioner Paul Coble said he was also concerned that the money would essentially go to the school system without any parameters on how to spend it.

"The other thing that bothers me in the resolution is we're going to give 100 percent of the proceeds to the school system, no strings attached, no plan," he said. "It doesn't say they have to spend it on teacher pay. All it really says is, 'We're going to give that money to the school system.'"

Coble said he wants the school system to hand over its reserve fund to help increase the teacher supplement. Wake County school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner, however, said Monday that the majority of that funding is already allocated.

She said she's disappointed that commissioners rejected the referendum but said both boards will continue to work together.

The school system says it's losing at an unacceptable rate teachers to higher-paying jobs in other states at an unacceptable rate.

"Our teachers have been working in the classroom with our children doing more and more with less and less," Commissioner Caroline Sullivan, who voted in favor of the referendum, said.

Commissioner James West also voted for the measure.

"We've got to take care of Wake County, and we are putting ourselves in a non-competitive position," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Ricky Cash Aug 4, 2014

    I'm sure they made the right decision.

  • short Aug 5, 2014

    When does the added tax revenues catch up with ALL the people moving into Wake county so that taxes, etc do not have to be raised? I mean more people equals need for more schools but also equals added tax revenue to pay for said schools. Lets also not forget the Lottery passed in the middle of the not - remember how that was to be the cure-all. My tax rates went up in 2014 for added education funding - there's the added 4.4cent rate hike and now talk of a sales tax rate hike.

    I mean - what am I missing? I'm not saying teachers may not need to make more (dont we all) but what is Government doing? All these rate hikes - all this added funding and they still cant get 2 + 2 = 4. When is to much - too much?

  • Corey Jenkins Aug 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Why is it that the first thing these so-called lawmakers do is try to raise taxes to pay for something. How about this, cut out the things that you don't need, like needless spending.

  • Tom Boswell Aug 5, 2014
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    Amazing how partisan politics plays role in every form of government. Wake County commissioners who are Republican controlled stops over spending and over taxing in Wake County. The school board as soon as they became Democratic controlled fires the newly appointed Republican Tata and replaces him with the Democrat Merrill. We give him 80% of a billion dollar last year and he comes back in less than a year and wants more for teacher raises after they will receive the largest raise ever in North Carolina history. He puts on this conference about how teachers are leaving in huge amounts and we must increase our taxes to give them more money. The turnover rate for the state through 2013 which is the latest available shows North Carolina with a 14% turnover rate versus 17% nationally. This is according to the NEA'S web site. Recently Wake County announced that 612 out of 9000 teachers left which is a turnover rate less than 7%. The supporting documentation shows that 312 of the 612 departu

  • WralCensorsAreBias Aug 5, 2014

    Job well done Commissioners.

    We already know by the school system's latest threats of [we can't keep up with the two billion bond we recently conned you voters into approving] that they plan to come at us again soon for double that amount. Your knocking this tax hike out from under them will agitate them even more to stick it to tax payers with the next one, but it will help middle and lower income families in the meantime.

    "Why is it that the first thing these so-called lawmakers do is try to raise taxes"

    Read it again, it isn't lawmakers trying to raise taxes, it was the Wake school system. They would rather you pay for it so they can spend their money on what they want.

    Remember that the next time they tell you the sky is falling. It's always falling in Wake County according to the school system and their school board.

  • Confucius say Aug 5, 2014

    "They reminded other commissioners that, although the county pays teacher supplements, it's the state's responsibility to fund teachers' base pay."

    Did y'all catch that? Complain to the State leaders, not the County leaders.

    I've got an idea, how about quit feeding kids all throughout the summer. This is school, not welfare. Give that money to the teachers. It's quite a large amount of money budgeted for this summer welfar system.

  • Joe Corey Aug 5, 2014
    user avatar

    If the citizens of Wake County didn't want the tax, we could have turned it down instead of letting a bunch of Agenda 21 fanatics control our fate. As far as Tata goes, he wasn't that into education. Did he go looking for another job in education after he was ousted in Wake County? Nope. He went into the asphalt business.

  • European American Aug 5, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Don't read much huh? Try reading the articles about House Bill 1224.

  • bill0 Aug 5, 2014

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    You are missing that the legislature passed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts for higher earners and corporations. That is why they are scrambling to pay for basic services now. Somehow, tax cuts for high earners eventually "trickle down" as something else the middle class gets charged for.

  • Tom Boswell Aug 5, 2014
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    billo, I have good news for you. You are one of those high earners because EVERYONE received a lower tax rate. The previous highest income level under Democrats for a couple was over $60,001. This level was taxed at 7.75% which was the tenth highest rate in the country. With all of this revenue coming in amazing that the Democrats still managed to create a 3.5 billion dollar deficit for the two year budget ending in 2012. This was the country's fifth largest at the time.