Thursday, October 23, 2014

On the 1/4 Cent Sales Tax Increase

Last night I recieved the following e-mail:

"Avid reader and fan of yours. I would like to read a story on your website about the county sales tax increase and how it is being pushed to our citizens as a education tax. We both know these increases will be to the general fund not education and it is our elected officials that decided to defund our schools to fund pet projects like the arts center or the pool. I dunno about you but Lindley park pool was just fine as a kid growing up. Who even would want to swim indoors in a pool in the summer in that new joint. Anyways, I would really appreciate your consideration on writing the story and I look forward to reading it."

My first instinct was, hey, I'm a liberal at heart, I'm in favor of more money for our schools, I'm not going to write against or even question 1/4 of a cent... But then I realized that's their plan.

You see: I remember when sales tax across the entire state of North Carolina was just 4 cents on the Dollar. How much is sales tax now?

"The North Carolina (NC) state sales tax rate is currently 4.75%. Depending on local municipalities, the total tax rate can be as high as 7.25%.

County and local taxes in most areas bring the sales tax rate to 6.75% – 7% in most counties but some can be as high as 8 or 8.25%."

How much is sales tax here in Guilford County?

"The current total local sales tax rate in Guilford County, NC is 6.750%. The December 2013 total local sales tax rate was also 6.750%."

1/4 cent will push us to 7 cents on the Dollar.  I'm not going to tell you not to vote for the increase but there are some questions I'd like to see answered BEFORE I vote yes.

1. In a recent letter to the editor of the News & Record, Gene Lemonds pointed out how too much money is being spent outside the classrooms-- how are we to know this 1/4 cent increase will be spent where it should be spent educating our children?

2. As my letter writer points out, how are we to know the County won't spend the money elsewhere? Are there any guarantees? Seems there's always money for special projects that generate huge profits for connected developers but when it comes time fund our schools we always need another tax increase. Can you say misapproiation of funds?

3. How did we get from 4 cents to 6.75 cents on the Dollar? Wait, I can answer that one. We got there 1/4 of a cent at a time with most of those increases being designated to go towards education. After all, no one ever votes against 1/4 cent for education. I guess a better question would be, where does it end?

4. I hate to be the bad guy and I want our children to all have the quality education that was deprived me by the then Greensboro City Schools but I have to ask, has money for education become the illicit drug on which our system mainlines?

Until I know the answers to those questions I'm afraid I'll be voting against the 1/4 cent increase.