Meck Co. sales tax referendum up in the air - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Meck Co. sales tax referendum up in the air

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A referendum to see if Mecklenburg County voters want to raise sales tax by a quarter of a penny is in jeopardy before it gets to voters. Some members of a state senate committee want to put a cap on county sales tax. The bill, if passed, would prevent county commissioners from going forward with a sales tax referendum.

"My view is the bill from the senate is anti-democratic" said Trevor Fuller, Chair of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. "What I mean by that is that it takes away from people the ability to decide for themselves what to do with their own money."

Majority of the Mecklenburg County commissioners approved a referendum for the November ballot that will ask county voters if they want to increase the sales tax by a quarter of a penny. The sales tax hike would reportedly generate about 35 million dollars a year.

Commissioners say 80% of the expected money would be used for teachers' compensation. Central Piedmont Community College would receive 7.5%. Arts and Sciences would also get 7.5%, and libraries 5%.

Mecklenburg County's sales tax is currently 2.5 cents per dollar.

Republicans in a senate committee want to cap county sales tax at 2.5 cents.

If the general assembly passes the bill - Mecklenburg County won't be able to put the referendum to voters.

"I think it's unwise government for people in Raleigh to be deciding for people in Mecklenburg what they want to do with their own money" Fuller said.

The Chair of the Board added "if we are not able to go forward with this referendum, we are going to be in a difficult situation in Mecklenburg County."

Fuller said he still believes the county will have to come up with money to address teacher raises long term.

Can the county afford it?  

"It puts a lot of pressure on our property tax revenue" said Chair Fuller. "It's either through our sales tax or our property tax or by cutting county services. There aren't any other magical solutions other that this."

WBTV asked Fuller if he believes county residents might face a property tax increase. He said "no" - that he doesn't believe voters would approve.

Fuller said if the bill in the senate passes, he believes teacher raises will have to come from the revenue that property taxes generate.

For now, all eyes are on the state legislature.

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