Sales tax increase may return to Orange ballot

Staff writerFebruary 25, 2011 

Orange County voters may get asked to approve a quarter-cent sales-tax increase again, a year after narrowly rejecting it.

The county commissioners may seek the increase – an additional 25 cents on a $100 purchase – to protect school funding against possible state cuts and to boost economic development.

“Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t consider putting it on” the ballot this year, commissioners Chair Bernadette Pelissier said. “But the rules of the game, particularly at the state level, are changing so rapidly.”

The last time, the referendum lost 51 percent to 49 percent. Voters in Chapel Hill-Carrboro narrowly voted for it; those in rural precincts voted 2-to-1 against it.

Commissioner Earl McKee, who represents Hillsborough and the county’s rural voters in District 2, opposes revisiting the sales tax increase in 2011. With only municipal races on the ballot, he said few rural voters would turn out.

“I supported it last year. I continue to support it,” he said today, after loading soybeans on his Caldwell farm. “I just do not support it bringing it [back] in 2011.”

Look for more on this story coming in Sunday's Chapel Hill News.

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