04/22/09 — Duplin voters to decide on sales tax for fire departments in 2010

View Archive

Duplin voters to decide on sales tax for fire departments in 2010

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 22, 2009 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A quarter-cent sales tax for fire protection will be on the ballot in November 2010 in Duplin County.

The county commissioners voted 5 to 1 Monday to have the referendum placed on the ballot to help fund the county's volunteer fire departments. Commissioner David Fussell made the motion, and Commissioner Frances Parks gave the second. Commissioner Zettie Williams dissented, saying she wanted to study the matter further.

"I support the fire departments, but we need to look at this seriously before we consider another quarter-cent sales tax for the fire departments," she said. "(The sales tax referendum) failed for education, and we know now education is a key issue, as well as the fire departments."

In May 2008, Duplin County voters turned back efforts to add a quarter-cent increase to the local sales tax for education. The measure failed 5,910 votes to 4,096.

Ms. Parks said she thinks the fire departments would have a better chance than the schools of being funded by a sales tax increase.

"I believe if there is any department that could get that passed it would be the fire departments," she said.

Emergency Services Director Brian Pearce said he has tried to find alternative income sources for the fire departments, but has been unsuccessful.

"The School of Government at UNC said no to everything I came up with," he said. "The state legislature is our only option."

Fussell said there has been discussion about raising money for the fire department via an additional quarter-cent sales tax.

The fire volunteers support the sales tax, he said, and they need the money. The county only provides $500,000 a year for all 20 departments. That only allows $25,000 for each department to run for a year, he said.