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Ballot is problem for schools-tax promoters

When the county commissioners agree to put the tax up to a Nov. 8 referendum, they agreed that the tax revenue would go to Durham Public Schools, Durham Tech and pre-kindergarten programs.

But the ballot just says, "Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes. " That wording was specified in the state legislature's act that authorized the referendum.

The vague language leaves the option open for the county to actually use the money any way it likes. The commissioners have passed a resolution to use the money as stated, but the resolution is not binding on them or on the board to be elected next year.

Some groups and citizens oppose the schools tax because there is no guarantee it will go to schools, but the measure has won support from several organizations and even, Toler said, from much of Durham's business community.

Soliciting business for a tax increase, he said, "is like asking the temperance league to support a kegger."

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