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'Sales and use' means 'education' say sales-tax proponents

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A campaign is under way to promote a quarter-cent sales tax for schools that Durham County voters will decide on Nov. 8.

"We have a very popular product to sell," campaign Co-chairwoman Meredythe Holmes said this morning in a meeting of County Board of Commissioners and City Council members.

The tax is proposed for Durham Public Schools, pre-kindergarten programs and scholarships for Durham residents to attend Durham Tech. However, on the ballot it is listed as a "sales and use tax" with no reference to its purpose.

"When you think of the 'local sales and use tax' think 'education,' " said campaign Co-chairman Steve Toler.

"We're going to be going out to the community ... to tell this message," Holmes said.

"We're working on the money, we're working on the yard signs, we're also working on social media and letters to the editor," said Toler.
"There'll be a big hole in the bucket for the durham public schools if this does not pass," said County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow, due to the end of federal stimulus grants and cuts in state appropriations for public schools.

Holmes said the tax would produce about $5 million a year for its beneficiaries.

"It's a powerful message and I hope you will get the word out really strongly," said Reckhow. "When I talk to people, everyone says this is a slam dunk [but] you can't take anything for granted."

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About the blogger

Jim Wise is a Durham News/N&O reporter and columnist who follows city and county government land-use and neighborhood issues. He's author of "Durham: A Bull City Story" and "Durham Tales: The Morris Street Maple, the Plastic Cow, the Durham Day That Was and More ... "