Orange County is moving ahead with another sales tax proposal.
After hearing mostly negative public comments on a possible quarter-cent sales tax, commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to schedule a second public hearing for the tax on April 5.
The county commissioners may seek a quarter cent sales tax increase - an additional 25 cents on a $100 purchase – to buoy possible state cuts to schools and invest in economic development.
"We will either need to let our schools fall apart or we’re going to need to find a source of income to make the necessary repairs to those schools,” said Commissioner Steve Yuhasz. “There aren’t any other opportunities other than an increase in the property tax or an increase in sales tax.”
If commissioners agree to add the tax referendum to the ballot, they will have to decide whether to bring it to voters in the 2011 municipal election or 2012 primary election.
It would cost the county $26,000 to add it to the ballot in 2011; 11 of the county’s more than 40 precincts would not be open to voters in that election, according to the county.
About six people spoke at Tuesday’s hearing; most were against a sales tax referendum.
“Before you pursue a new sales tax, take a top down critical look at the county’s cost structure and find ways to reduce the burden of government on the citizens of Orange County,” said Bonnie Hauser, of Orange County Voice, a rural citizen advocacy group.
If the tax were levied, it would generate $625,000 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, and 2.5 million for the following fiscal year, according to the county.
Look for more on the sales tax referendum at newsobserver.com and in Sunday's Chapel Hill News.