06/23/05 — Duplin County considers 1 cent sales tax for schools

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Duplin County considers 1 cent sales tax for schools

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 23, 2005 1:45 PM

WARSAW -- Duplin County commissioners are considering a one-cent sales tax for schools.

Businessman Jim Harris asked Duplin commissioners Monday night to consider the local sales tax option as a way to fund the $42 million building plan adopted in May by the Duplin County Board of Education. The plan calls for building a new high school somewhere between the Guilford East plant on N.C. 11 and the Summerlin's Crossroads area for students coming from Warsaw, Kenansville and B.F. Grady middle schools. The plan also calls for building a new school for children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade in the B.F. Grady School area.

A sales tax could mean real money for the schools, Harris said.

"We had $4 million in retail sales last year," he said.

Some counties are using the same approach for other types of projects, he added.

"A coastal county implemented a 1 cent sales tax to put sand back on the beach, and I feel the schools are more important."

Harris said he had asked state Rep. Russell Tucker about a local bill, and added that Tucker was receptive to the idea.

But time has expired in the General Assembly to introduce new bills, Tucker said Tuesday. He said he would be willing to find another bill to attach the measure to if county commissioners endorse it unanimously and the towns ask for it, too. He said he would need endorsements from the chambers of commerce and the board of education.

"There needs to be a broad spectrum of support for this additional tax on the people," he said.

Commissioner Larry Howard of Mount Olive said this morning he would support a sales tax for school buildings, but only after the board of education fixes the plan to get rid of the 945-student population high school.

"We're got to come up with a facility plan before I give one cent," Howard said, adding that the board of education's plan is unwise. "A 945-student high school is crazy. You're going to throw all those kids in one school while you've got one with 290 students. I'm not too educated, but I know better than that."

The smaller high school is North Duplin Junior-Senior High.

He said the student population at B.F. Grady Elementary School is getting so big it's going to warrant a high school itself.