What you need to know: Meck County's quarter-cent proposed sales tax hike

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Taxpayers will have the opportunity to decide whether to increase Mecklenburg County’s sales tax by a quarter-cent in the General Election on Nov. 5.

The tax would support the arts, parks and greenways and education.

Government reporter Joe Bruno dug into concerns about how the money could be used and the ripple effect of the tax

The referendum, which will be at the bottom of the ballot, is the most contentious and closely watched race in the election for some voters

Commissioners are proposing:

  • 45% for the Arts and Science Council
  • 34% for parks
  • 16% for education
  • 5% for arts and culture in Mecklenburg County towns

Experts said that can be changed if a future commission decides there are other priorities

“It's a guarantee that lasts only as long as the Mecklenburg County commissioners want it to last,” said Mitch Kokai, with the John Locke Foundation.

If voters pass it, the tax rate will be 7.5%, which is the highest it can be under state law. Currently, only two counties in North Carolina have a tax rate that high -- Orange and Durham counties.

Kokai said the county will need the General Assembly's permission make the tax rate higher.

*What will be taxed if it passes:

  • Tangible personal property
  • Certain digital property
  • Lease or rental of tangible personal property
  • Service contract or renewal of a service contract
  • Prepaid meal plan
  • Admission charges to an entertainment activity
  • Rental of an accommodation
  • Prepaid telephone calling service
  • Satellite digital audio radio service
  • Repair, maintenance and installation services, including such services provided by a real property manager under a property management contract in certain circumstances
  • Operation of laundries, dry cleaning plants or similar businesses
  • Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, prepared food, candy, dietary supplements, soft drinks and food sold through a vending machine.

What won't be taxed:

  • Groceries
  • Gas

*Department of Revenue

If approved by voters, the sales tax increase is expected to generate $50 million a year.