Rowan has opportunity to lead on local-option sales tax

  • Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Last August 17, 2012, I wrote an opinion piece regarding the desire of county and state leaders to push for a local bill that would allow a referendum asking voters whether they want to reinstate a penny sales tax the legislature allowed to expire on June 30, 2012.

As our General Assembly reconvenes later this month, we should voice our desires again to push for a local bill. If a voter referendum to reinstate a penny sales tax was allowed on this Novemberís ballot (and approved), it would generate approximately $8 million which the state had collected from Rowan County to balance its budget since 2001.

Rowan County imposed a quarter-cent sales tax resulting from a voter-approved referendum in November 2009. These sales tax revenues have been used to fund a new mandatory jail facility, a mandatory FCC upgrade of our radio telecommunications system and a new 911 center. Without this quarter-cent sales tax increase, the only way Rowan County would have been able to pay $18 million for these projects would have been through an increase in property taxes.

To gather support to reinstate a penny sales tax, state legislators want to know how local option revenues would be spent. Easily identifiable areas are property tax relief and education funding. But also consider this. The demographics of Rowan County continue to change. Our population of seniors and veterans continues to grow faster than any other group. To further justify to our state legislators how local option revenues would be spent, we should push for increases in the homestead exemptions for elderly or disabled elderly, and veterans or disabled veterans, so more can qualify and realize increased benefits.

By adding these increased exemptions to a local bill, and asking for it to be uniformly applied across the state, we could make this a reality, and Rowan County could set an example for other counties to follow.

Property tax relief ó offset by a local-option sales tax ó will benefit everyone. Letís take this opportunity to fight for even more property tax relief for our seniors and veterans through increased homestead exemption allowances. This is just one leadership opportunity for all elected bodies in Rowan County to collectively work on for the benefit of all.

Jon Barber serves on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Readers can access Barberís original article online at:

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