Senate could stop Meck Co. from raising sales tax for teachers

by: Tina Terry Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The state Senate could stop Mecklenburg County from raising the sales tax to pay for teacher raises.
 
Some commissioners told Channel 9 they learned about the plan just hours before it was introduced. 
                       
Commissioners who talked to Eyewitness News said at this point there is no plan B to give teachers pay raises. 
 
They were hoping to ask Mecklenburg County voters in November to pay an extra quarter-penny sales tax on everything they buy in stores. 
 
However, if the bill passes in Raleigh, that won't be possible.
 
The bill which doesn't list any sponsors would allow local counties to levy a sales and use tax of up to 0.5 percent to pay for things like teacher raises. 
 
It's a right the state already gave to Mecklenburg County years ago.
 
However, the bill also sets a cap on the amount of taxes a county can levy at 2.5 percent. 
 
Mecklenburg County's local option sales tax already sits at 2.5 percent. 
 
Sen. Jeff Tarte said the bill provides equity for counties. 
 
"This is just giving authorization to all the other counties to have the same taxing authority Mecklenburg County already enjoys," said Tarte. 
 
Some leaders were disappointed and called the bill a covert attempt to keep the county from raising taxes. 
 
Commissioner Pat Cotham speculated it could be a power play by lawmakers who were left out of talks about raising the sales tax.
 
"I think the state can be showing its power and reminding commissioners that the state is the one that has power over these things," she said.
 
The bill passed the Finance Committee and now heads to the Senate floor for debate.