Senate tentatively approves transit sales tax option

Posted August 5, 2009 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 6, 2009 8:22 a.m. EDT

— The state Senate on Wednesday tentatively passed a bill allowing the state's second- and third-largest metro areas to expand mass transit systems, if voters approve raising local sales taxes.

House Bill 148 (Senate Bill 151) , expected to go up for a final vote later this week, would allow voters the state's six urban counties – Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Orange and Wake – to decide whether to increase local sales taxes by a half cent to the sales tax rate.

The state's 94 other counties could raise sales taxes by a quarter cent to the sales tax rate. Vehicle registration fees would also increase by $2.

The Senate Finance Committee added a provision to the bill that allows Research Triangle Park to increase property taxes 10 cents per $100 on its tenant companies.

The regional transit plan in the Triangle includes increased bus service and 56 miles of rail connecting Chapel Hill to North Raleigh.

The option comes right on the heels of the General Assembly passing a one-cent sales tax rate increase to help balance the budget.