04/21/08 — Towns give OK to sales tax hike

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Towns give OK to sales tax hike

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 21, 2008 1:45 PM

With the debate over the quarter-cent sales tax increase heating up, three of Wayne County's four major towns -- Goldsboro, Mount Olive and Pikeville -- have either approved or are preparing to approve resolutions supporting the May 6 referendum.

The fourth, Fremont, simply discussed the issue, but declined to take an up-or-down vote.

"There was a whole lot of discussion, but the town did not approve anything. There were some saying we should support it and some saying we shouldn't," said Town Manager Kerry McDuffie. "And part of the discussion was how much difference it really made for the town to support it or not support it."

And with no planned meeting between now and May 6, he does not foresee the issue coming back up.

The other town boards, however, did decide to throw their weight behind the initiative, particularly with county officials promising to use the funds -- at least initially -- to pay for a new countywide communications system.

"We're going to support it," said Goldsboro Mayor Al King.

The city council is expected to vote on the issue Monday.

"We've talked to the county and at this point we think it's the right thing to do. Our fire, police and rescue squads need to be able to communicate and right now our system is subpar," King said.

That -- and the fact that the county has pledged to pay for the initial purchase and installation for all the radios and equipment for the municipalities, fire departments and possibly even schools -- is why Mount Olive also decided to support the referendum.

"The communications system is old and outdated and needs to be brought up to standards," Town Manager Charles Brown said. "If we had to do this ourselves, we couldn't afford it, so I applaud the county for figuring a way to get these revenues."

Also coming out in support of the effort is the Wayne County Firemen's Association. The Wayne County Republican Party, however, has come out in opposition.