Will taxes go up because of CMS' $922 million bond referendum?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Voters have some questions concerning Charlotte Mecklenburg School District's $922 million bond referendum.

CMS and county leaders have told voters a tax increase will not happen because of the bond question that is on this year's ballot and voters are counting on that.

"This morning I heard on the news that it wouldn't be a tax increase for the bonds," voter Nathaniel Gregory said.

After Gregory voted, he read the language on the ballot that reads "...and a tax to be levied for the payment thereof..."

He now has concerns about that language and says he will read the fine print before voting.

"And a tax to be levied, that means we are going to have to pay that some kind of way," Gregory said.

WBTV contacted CMS and county leaders about the language. Leaders want to emphasize a tax increase will not happen if people vote yes for the bonds.

County leaders say the language simply means taxes that are already generated will pay for the bonds to build and renovate schools.

Assistant County Manager Mark Foster sent this statement clarifying the language on the ballot.

"There is no new tax or increase in tax being levied to pay for the school bonds. Mecklenburg County pays its debt service from property taxes (19.5 cents of the county property tax rate) and dedicated sales taxes.  The $922 million CMS bond debt was modeled assuming no increase in tax rates and no tax boost from property revaluation (i.e. it will be paid under the current tax structure)," Foster said.

If you take a closer look at Foster's statement, he says bond debt was modeled assuming no increase.  Mecklenburg County Commission Vice Chairman Jim Puckett agrees that taxes aren't designed to go up because of the $922 million bond referendum, but he thinks voters should have a more accurate statement.

"It's fair to say assuming all things remain as is, taxes will not go up," Puckett said.

Puckett argues if there is another recession or not enough taxes generated throughout the county to pay for the bonds - an option could be to raise taxes.

The group United Voices for Equal Education, made up of retired educators, recently read the entire ballot question. They also interpret the language in the ballot question as taxes could go up.  They are familiar with how bonds work.

"They are paid over a period of time. This is common knowledge, and how are you going to garner that - from taxes, it's inevitable," United Voices for Equal Education Seretha Sherrill said.

Sherrill says although her taxes may go up, it will not deter her to vote yes for the bonds.

"These babies need new facilities." she said.

People campaigning for the bonds claim voters have nothing to worry about concerning their taxes going up because of the bonds. They say by law when talking about bonds, the ballot has to contain the word tax.

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