05/09/10 — Duplin voters approve quarter-cent sales tax hike

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Duplin voters approve quarter-cent sales tax hike

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on May 9, 2010 1:50 AM

KENANSVILLE --- Duplin County's fire departments will receive additional local funding from a quarter-cent sales tax increase in the county. Residents voted last week Tuesday to accept the tax increase, with 55 percent of voters supporting the measure.

Duplin County Emergency Services Director Brian Pearce said the additional money will be a big help to the firefighters.

"Right now they spend a lot time doing fundraisers, hopefully this will reduce the time they spend doing fundraisers so they can spend more time training," he said.

The tax was expected to collect about $822,000 each year. The money will be split evenly among the county's fire districts. Each station will get about $35,000, Pearce said.

The Mount Olive and Pricetown units also will receive a portion of the tax revenue because they cover parts of Duplin.

The county is working to put together a fire commission based on the county fire chiefs' association that will help oversee how the money is used, Pearce said.

Duplin will begin collecting the tax Jan. 1 of next year, pending the adoption of a resolution by the county Board of Commissioners. The General Assembly may consider legislation during the 2010 short session that would allow the counties to begin collecting the revenues Oct. 1, 2010.

Since 2007, when the North Carolina General Assembly granted counties the local option to levy additional sales tax, 15 counties have received voter authorization to implement the tax. New Hanover and Onslow County voters also passed quarter-cent sales tax increases.

According to a survey of county budgets by the state Association of County Commissioners, most counties expect lower revenues. Many have taken steps, including cutting services, reducing staff, instituting mandatory furloughs for employees and appropriating fund balance.

The General Assembly gave counties the option of implementing either the sales tax or a land transfer tax of up to 0.4 percent -- as long as voters approve -- as part of the historic Medicaid swap in July 2007 when the state relieved counties of their share of Medicaid services costs.