Taxes never go down. Think about that before you mark your ballot on the proposed sales tax increase.
Why in the world would anyone give the Orange County commissioners more money? The board has demonstrated that it cannot manage the county’s tax dollars. The proposed quarter-cent tax increase is good example.
The increase that county voters will either approve or reject at the polls today would put the county sales tax at 8 cents per dollar. The county website says the quarter-cent sales tax hike will stave off an increase in property taxes.
And while the county has gone to great lengths to stress that the revenue raised from the tax hike will go to schools and business initiatives, the county website says 15 percent of the money will go to “improve library and emergency medical services.”
The improved library would be a new building in Carrboro that I assume would be paid for in part by the money the county told Chapel Hill Town Council members it did not have when they asked for the county to pay its fair share of Chapel Hill library operating expenses. For more than a decade, town residents have paid higher taxes to provide library services to county residents who pay nothing to use the facility.
The county raised property taxes just last year by revaluing homes at way more than market value. The commissioners did their best to label that revaluation as a revenue-neutral move, which raised my taxes by more than $300. Not so neutral on my end.
And now the commissioners want to tack on another quarter-cent to the sales tax rate. Neighboring counties charge as much as half a cent less in sales tax, and the increase is likely to inspire some folks to do their shopping in neighboring counties. I’m considering driving to Durham or Alamance County to do my shopping so I can save $30 to $40 a year. The county may lose revenue by raising the sales tax if shoppers take their business out of the county.
Voting down the tax increase is a way to let the commissioners know there is a limit to just how much money they can expect from taxpayers. I know it has been said before, but the commissioners need to learn how to live on a budget. Rejecting the tax hike could be a step toward that end. Tough love. You know?
–Don Evans and Nancy Oates