Wake County had a land transfer tax -- for a week in 1999.

After a $650 million school bond failed at the polls, county commissioners raised the property tax and instituted a 1 percent tax on real-estate transactions June 21.

Several Republican Wake legislators protested, led by then-Rep. Art Pope and Rep. Russell Capps. Local developers threatened to sue the county.

Opponents argued that the tax was illegal, because North Carolina law allows counties to levy a tax only if it has the permission of the legislature. The county argued that the transfer tax was a "fee."

On June 28, commissioners shelved the idea.

If it had remained and survived a lawsuit, the transfer tax would have raised more than $400 million in the past six years, based on an analysis of county real-estate records.

"That's incredible," former Commissioner Yevonne Brannon said when she learned the figure. "We'd be in such a different situation today with school construction. We'd probably not be so desperately behind."