Quarter cent sales tax to be on November ballot

ELIZABETHTOWN —Bladen County voters will be faced again with a choice of whether they want to spend additional money on education.

At a special called meeting Monday night of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners, the board voted to add a quarter-cent sales tax referendum to the ballot this November.

According to the resolution signed by the commissioners, the revenue generated by the tax increase would be utilized “to assist in funding specific projects across the County for the benefit of Bladen County Public Schools.” The commissioners were asked to add the referendum to the ballot by the Bladen County Board of Education. The latter met earlier this month and agreed to make the request.

November’s ballot will mark the sixth time the request has come before Bladen County voters. It has been defeated all five times. Historically, naysayers have decried fear of mismanagement, benefit to only a few, or county-wide poverty as reasons for their opposition. The measure was defeated in 2010, then again in 2014 (schools’ capital outlay projects), in 2015 (property owners’ decrease in taxes), in March, 2016 (property taxes again), and in November, 2016 (EMS).

A quarter of a percent sales tax would raise approximately $500,000 annually and would mean an additional penny spent for every $400.

Supporters have maintained the tax would predominantly impact out-of-county tourists, who would essentially be paying for better schools for in-county students. Bladen County is one of only seven out of 100 North Carolina counties without some kind of supplemental sales or occupancy tax.

“We benefit from the sales tax,” Bladen Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins said. “At the same time, we want the sales tax to be used equitably, fairly to benefit our students.”

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.