Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Voters in 4 counties raise their own taxes. Is Mecklenburg next?

Voters across the state raised taxes on themselves Tuesday. That could raise hopes for some in Mecklenburg who have been pushing for higher sales taxes, but they shouldn’t hold their breath.

In Durham, Orange (Chapel Hill), Buncombe (Asheville) and Montgomery counties, voters approved quarter-cent sales tax hikes. In Durham, they also approved a separate half-cent sales tax for transit.

What a turnaround. Last year, voters in 16 N.C. counties rejected sales tax hikes. And in 2008, a good year for Democrats, 31 of 34 counties rejected sales tax hikes, N.C. Policy Watch notes.

The success of the tax increases Tuesday is especially notable in tough economic times, when voters could be even more reluctant than usual to pay more. Perhaps those voters noticed a lack of public investment in critical services, and realized that even with the hike they’d be paying less than they have recently because the legislature allowed a one-cent sales tax to expire this year.

Given Democrats’ domination in Charlotte on Tuesday, some might think voters here would support a quarter-cent sales tax hike. But there’s been no talk of resurrecting that idea since Mecklenburg commissioners ignored Democrat George Dunlap’s efforts to put it on the ballot in 2010.

2012 is an election year for commissioners, and Democrats will not be eager to have a tax hike sharing ballot space with them. And if they put it on the May primary ballot, the measure could get stomped by conservative voters coming out to vote for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Tax backers, we’d guess, will have to wait til 2013 at the earliest.

Taylor Batten


Garth Vader said...


There's nothing preventing you and Ms. Flono and Mr. St. Onge from writing checks to the government (you especially, what with your million-dollar house).

Why don't you write those checks and post scans of them here?