Voters Turn Down Sales Tax Proposal
Moore County voters don't want an additional sales tax, either.
Voters sent a resounding message Tuesday by turning down the new tax by a margin of 63.36 percent, 14,170 votes, to 36.64 percent, or 8,194 votes.
It was not quite as overwhelming as the defeat of the land transfer tax in November, but the tally left no doubt about voter opposition. The November vote against the land transfer tax was 11,553 to 3,330, or 78 percent against.
"I think people made a mistake," said Colin McKenzie, chairman of the Moore County Board of Commissioners. "People come down here to Pinehurst to play golf, and they buy things while they're here. I see no reason why they can't chip in and help us out."
The commissioners had supported the measure as a means of easing the property tax rate increase expected in the next few years as the county pays off $69.5 million in capital improvement bonds for the public schools and Sandhills Comm-unity College.
"Wait till they get their property tax bill next year," McKenzie said. "It's gonna be a shock. We could have knocked two cents off that tax rate hike if they had passed the sales tax."
McKenzie, who said he voted for the additional quarter-cent sales tax, admitted that the measure was not widely publicized. No private group came forward to promote the tax, and he said the county cannot use taxpayer funds for such a purpose.
"I don't think you need to use taxpayer money to promote it, and there wasn't anyone else to support it," McKenzie said.
Poll workers said some voters appeared unaware of the referendum until they received their ballots Tuesday.
In November, Moore County voters gave the bond issue a hearty approval at the polls, but at the same time crushed the land transfer tax proposal. The county had hoped to use the 0.04 percent land transfer tax to offset the property tax rate hike, expected to climb seven or eight cents as the county borrows money to make improvements in the schools and at the college.
The land transfer tax and the quarter-cent sales tax were the options offered to county governments last year when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill relieving counties of the Medicaid burden. The state had previously allowed an additional sales tax to help counties with their financing needs but the legislature dropped the extra sales tax when it agreed to take on the entire Medicaid expense.
As part of that bill, the legislature gave counties the option of one or the other of the new taxes, but not both. However, a vote of the people was required before a county could impose either tax.
The land transfer tax measure failed in every county where it was on the ballot in November. Credited for that failure were state and local organizations representing home builders and real estate firms, who peppered the countryside with signs advising people to vote against the "home tax."
Local home builders and real estate companies last year offered to promote the sales tax measure if it were placed on the November ballot rather than the land transfer tax. But county leaders opted for the land transfer tax because it would raise more revenue than the sales tax.
When the sales tax issue made it to the ballot in May, the home builders and Realtors did not take an active part in any campaign, for or against the measure.
Election results are unofficial. They will not become official until the May 13 canvass is conducted by the Moore County Board of Elections.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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