11/05/07 — County will eye sales tax increase

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County will eye sales tax increase

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 5, 2007 1:45 PM

A possible quarter-cent sales tax is on the agenda for Tuesday's Wayne County Board Commissioners meeting, but no action is likely to be taken.

Scheduled for the work session portion of their meeting, the commissioners are expected to discuss whether or not they would like to see a referendum of the quarter-cent sales tax on an upcoming ballot, and if so, what steps they need to take.

The option for the additional taxing authority was given to every county this year by the state General Assembly as part of a Medicaid relief package.

The legislature's action, which removes the counties' Medicaid burden over a three-year period, also withholds a half-cent portion of their state allocated sales tax. In return, to help counties maintain their funding levels, the legislature then voted to give counties the option to levy either a quarter-cent sales tax or a 0.4 percent land transfer tax.

According to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, the sales tax option would likely provide $2,570,523, while the land transfer tax option would likely provide $1,425,674.

The commissioners have indicated that they are more interested in the sales tax than the land transfer tax, which they see as simply another form of property tax.

"The sales tax spreads the burden out over everyone who spends money," Commission Chairman John Bell has said. "It's a more progressive tax."

It's too late, of course, for the issue to appear on Tuesday's ballot, so the earliest the matter could be put to a vote is during the May primary.

Also Tuesday, the commissioners will continue to discuss the Wayne County Comprehensive Plan and what their priorities are for the next year.

They also will hold a public hearing at 9:15 a.m. on Jack Smith's request to rezone 11 acres in Fork Township from residential agriculture to community shopping, and to establish community shopping on the 8.6 acres between the state Department of Transportation's proposed service road and U.S. 70 across from the new Rosewood Wal-Mart.

And while the county Planning Board is supporting the community shopping proposal for the 8.6-acre lot, it is recommending that the 11-acre lot and the adjoining property be rezoned village district, which allows for either residential or limited commercial use, because of its relationship to existing residential areas.

The commissioners' meeting will begin with a briefing session at 8 a.m. in their chambers at the Wayne County Courthouse. The regular session will begin at 9 a.m.