Local News

Johnston County Holding Off On Half-Cent Sales Tax Hike

Posted Updated
Switch to classic wral.com

SMITHFIELD, N.C. — While people in other Triangle communities will soon pay an extra half-cent sales tax, that will not be the case in Johnston County just yet.

Johnston County residents acknowledge the need for funds within government, but they some said they are happy they can hold on to their money just a little while longer.

"I know they need the money, but now's not the time," resident David Strickland said.

Many counties across North Carolina are raising their sales tax by a half-cent to make up some of the money Gov. Mike Easley withheld to help balance the budget. Six out of the seven Johnston County commissioners are against a half-cent hike.

"I told the people of Johnston County I wouldn't raise taxes. I'm not going against my word," commissioner Ray Woodall said.

However, the decision to hold off on the tax hike could hurt the ten towns within Johnston County that are banking on that money.

Towns like Smithfield are now suffering a double blow. Last year, the state's budget crisis cost Smithfield $327,000 in lost reimbursements. The half-cent sales tax hike would have generated approximately $350,000 for the town.

Smithfield Mayor Bill Jordan said the decision not to raise the sales tax will even have an impact on emergency response times in the county. Smithfield has a contract with Johnston County to provide assistance during emergencies, but Jordan said right now, response times are delayed because there are not enough emergency medical technicians to go around.

"We're unable to hire enough paramedics. We hope the county commissioners will have a change of heart," he said.

Jordan said he may even have to consider raising property taxes to come up with the money the town needs.