Orange County Tax Hike Coming Up Soon – Again

I ran across the Orange County’s  FAQs about the upcoming sales tax increase voters there will be considering in November.

Here are a few things they fail to mention:

  1. They’ve already tried this.  The quarter cent sales tax failed in November 2010 by over 1,000 votes and 66% of voters opposed a land transfer tax increase (which has now been repealed) in May 2004.
  2. November 8, 2012 is the first possible date the sales tax increase can be reconsidered. The commission has called for a special election on November 8. The special election will cost $84,500.
  3. If the referendum passes, the increase will bring Orange County’s sales tax rate to 7.00%. Only Mecklenburg is higher at 7.25%.
  4. Since the General Assembly authorized counties to hold sales tax increase votes in 2007, 54 counties have put the issue before the taxpayers, some more than once. To date there have been 78 votes – only 19 have passed. Orange County voters would not be alone in saying no thanks.
  5. If it passes, taxpayers of Orange County will be hit with a $2.5 Million tax increase – every year.
  6. A sale tax increase would “lessen the pressure” for property tax increases but if Orange County Commissioners want more money, there is nothing that would prevent them from raising property taxes.
  7. The current commission has said 50% of the revenue will be used for education, specifically capital improvement and technology. The Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools would like money for things like mobile computer carts, energy efficient lighting and a walk in refrigerator. The Chapel Hill schools are just asking for 50% of the money.  Looks like they’ll let the taxpayers know how they’ll use it after the vote.
  8. The other 50% will go for economic development.  The punch list includes rent subsidies, relocation expenses, and taxpayer funding of start up capital for select small businesses – in other words, taxpayer funded corporate welfare.
  9. There is no sunset on the tax increase.  The website says a future commission could repeal the tax increase.  Sure.  That’s going to happen.
  10. Future Orange County Commissions can use the money for anything they choose.
  11. The groundwork is already being laid for an additional 1/2 cent sales tax increase in 2012.

JLF discusses Orange County tax hike in a policy report and here and here and here.




Becki Gray / Senior Vice President

Becki Gray is Senior Vice President of the John Locke Foundation. She provides information, consultation, and publications to elected officials, government staff and other dec...

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