The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday May 27th

Orange County sales tax increase supported by County Commissioners

Commissioners plan to give support

The Orange County Board of Commissioners is seeking to educate residents on the one-quarter-cent tax increase set to appear on November ballots.

The tax, which is predicted to bring in $2.3 million annually, is often misinterpreted, said County Commissioner Alice Gordon.


Time: 7 p.m. today
Location: Department of Social Services, 113 Mayo St. in Hillsborough

“We just want to make they realize it’s not 25 percent,” Gordon said. “They don’t see the decimal point. It’s kind of unfortunate.”

Details on the sales and use tax will be printed on fliers and announced over the radio to ensure there is no confusion.

Gordon said the campaign to educate cannot show any bias either for or against the tax increase.

The campaign’s only objective is to inform the public of what they will be voting on when they step in the voter’s booth, she said.

If implemented next April as intended, the tax is expected to bring in $575,000 for the fiscal year.

The county’s two school systems will share 42.5 percent of the tax revenue, specifically for facility improvements and technology development.

Another 42.5 percent will go to economic development efforts.

The remainder of the tax will fund improvements to library systems and Emergency Medical Services over the next five years, board members said.

County Commissioners will further emphasize their support for the tax increase at tonight’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

But the increase has already seen support from local school boards, the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association and the Association of Realtors, said Bernadette Pelissier, vice chairwoman of the County Commissioners.

“You can never predict the outcome,” she said. “But I think we certainly have a good chance.

Orange County offices are optimistic about voter support for the tax, Pelissier said.

She said organized group opposition to the tax has yet to be brought to her attention.

Ralph Byrns, an economics professor at UNC, said the new tax would most likely not affect consumer spending.

“If they have to balance the budget or put into place this tax, I’d rather have the tax instead of them laying people off,” he said.

The county has been cutting expenses by decreasing funding for public services and supporting policies that encourage early retirement without replacing those who leave.

“We’ve had a couple of tough budget years and we expect this to continue,” Gordon said.

“In the scheme of things it’s not much of an increase, but the benefits are huge.”

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