Wake Ed

June 30, 2014

Groups propose Wake County sales-tax referendum to raise teacher pay

The Wake County Board of Commissioners could discuss whether to put on the November ballot a quarter-cent sales tax referendum with the revenues going toward raising teacher pay.

Should Wake County voters be asked this November to approve a quarter-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay?

As noted in Saturday’s article by Mechelle Hankerson, Wake County mayors and County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan are asking the Wake County Board of Commissioners to consider putting the sales-tax referendum on the November ballot. It would only happen if one or more of the Republican commissioners who make up the board’s majority consent to putting the referendum on the ballot.

Republicans may be reluctant to put the measure on the ballot out of concern that it could motivate Democrats to turn out and potentially impact the outcome of this fall’s commissioners’ races. With all four Republican seats on the ballot, a single loss would give Democrats the majority.

On the other hand, would opposition from groups who don’t want higher taxes help Republicans on the ballot?

According to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, voters have only approved 27 of the 94 sales-tax referendums that have been on the ballot in 59 counties since 2007. But the referendums have had more success in recent years, especially when tied to things such sa increasing education funding.

Sales-tax referendums to increase education funding are on the November ballots in both Guilford and Mecklenburg counties.

A quarter-cent sax tax increase in Wake County could net $28 million a year in additional revenue, or just shy of the $29.1 million plan the school board had wanted that would have given all school employees a 3.5 percent pay raise.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners could take up the issue at the July 7 meeting.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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