Eastern Wake: Opinion

Editorial: Disappointing decision

It would be an understatement to say that we are not disappointed in our Wake County commissioners that they chose not to give the people they represent the option of deciding for themselves if they want a tax increase.

The decision came at last week’s county commissioners meeting when board members decided along party lines not to allow a referendum to be placed on the ballot in November to give people the option of a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax to raise money that would be used for teacher pay.

Regardless of which side of the debate you fall – some say teachers need more money, others say teachers should be satisfied with the average 7 percent increase handed down by the legislators, the county’s decision tells us a couple of things.

First it tells us our elected officials don’t trust voters with such decision-making power. That should be a slap in the face to every voter in Wake County. If, as opponents of a referendum argue, there is no need to pay teachers more, then voters would arguably vote down any additional pay increases. We are sure county commissioner wouldn’t (publicly, at least) accuse voters of being dumber than they are.

Secondly, the commissioners’ decision tells us they think teachers are getting paid enough as it is and they really don’t need any more money from the county.

If, as opponents of the referendum argue, paying teachers is a state function and not a county function, then someone should move immediately to discontinue the $6,000 per year payments the county is already making to teachers in the form of a local supplement. That supplement, by the way, has enabled Wake County to suck the very best teachers from the surrounding counties into the Wake fold. That has arguably impacted test scores and made Wake County’s school system stand out.

But commissioners are almost certainly not going to take away what they’ve already given.

County commissioners had a chance to let the people of Wake County weigh in on the teacher pay issue. They ignored their constituents and that never ends well.