Voters have mixed feelings about sales tax.

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@salisburypost.comMamie Anderson didn’t hesitate to vote for the 1/4-cent county sales tax.
“We need more jails,” said the Thomas Street resident. “We need to keep these bad people off the streets.”
She added that she’s on a fixed income but she’s willing to shell out the extra so the county can build a jail.
Anderson voted mid-morning at Rowan County Public Library on Fisher Street.
Election officials across the county were spending most of their time waiting for voters.
Nancy Evans, elections director, had predicted a 5 to 7 percent turnout countywide. By mid-morning, she revised it downward, expecting less than 5 percent turnout across the county.
While most of the county’s 10 municipalities have contested elections, the only issue county voters will decide is whether to approve the 1/4- cent local sales tax.
If approved, the expected $2 million a year will go to pay off a $15 to $20 million tab for a new jail annex, emergency radios and towers to ensure communication.
A handful of voters who turned out at the Granite Quarry Municipal Building and Rowan Public Library appeared to be evenly split on the tax issue.
Wayne Carter, who worked for Freightliner for 14 years before being laid off, voted against the tax.
“They need to learn to live within their means. I lost my job in May,” Carter said, adding he has been forced to live on one-third of what he was making. “They need to cut back, too. Everybody is hurting. We’re taxed to death.”
Gilbert Russell, another Granite Quarry resident, views the tax issue different.
“This is the best way to raise the money … everybody pays,” said Russell. He noted that if the sales tax isn’t approved, some people will get by without paying anything.”
Voters interviewed at the library all said they favored the sales tax, except for former county commissioner Gus Andrews. He declined to say how he voted.
Paul Fisher, well-known banker, ticked off a string of reasons voters should approve the sales tax.
He noted that other methods of financing will be more costly.
And Fisher said it’s time to go on the offense, spending money to build parks, ballfields and work with children, so more jails won’t be needed in the future.
Polls will remain open until 7:30 p.m. today.