by: Jim Bradley Updated:NORTH CAROLINA —
The Senate Finance Committee brought a controversial bill to the table on Monday that gives some North Carolina counties more leeway to raise the sales tax.
Mecklenburg County Republican Bob Rucho co-chairs the committee that is talking about the sales tax issue. Rucho is backing the bill that could keep the county from asking voters for more money to fund teacher salaries. County commissioners want the bill to pass.
It is a big fight over a small increase in Mecklenburg County’s sales tax. State senators are debating a bill that would cap the county sales taxes at 2.5 percent. This fall, Mecklenburg County wants to ask voters to approve a quarter-cent increase to 2.75 percent, with the revenue mostly going towards extra pay for teachers.
The senate bill would make that impossible because the county’s sales tax would already be maxed out.
County leaders complain the state is micromanaging local governments, but it is unclear if state senators are listening.
“There are a couple of additional amendments we’re going to make in there and then pass it to finance (committee), put it to the floor for a vote,” Rucho said.
The amendments Rucho is referring to are expected to expand how counties can use sales tax money, to include education and transportation.
If the Senate approves it, the measure would still have to go to the State House. If that is approved, Mecklenburg County’s planned fall referendum for the quarter-cent sales tax hike would no longer be an option.