My turn, your turn: Sales tax referendum

By Gary McNair - bio|email

When I started doing these commentaries a couple years ago, a colleague told me the surest way to gain the approval of our viewers is to be against any new taxes.  Well call me crazy - I'm about to throw his advice out the window.  I want to urge New Hanover County voters to approve the additional quarter cent sales tax on Tuesday's ballot.

I know that nobody likes new taxes, but we're facing the real possibility of losing services to seniors and veterans, as well as cutbacks to parks, libraries and museums.

Considering the alternatives, I've come to the conclusion that this small sales tax increase is the best possible solution.  Let me share three of the reasons that helped me make up my mind:

  • This solution spreads the burden beyond just the property owners.  It shares it with all who shop or visit here – including the multitudes of tourists.
  • It does not apply to groceries, prescriptions, gasoline, utilities or cars.
  • And we're talking about a very small amount of money – 25 cents on 100 dollars spent.

Will this guarantee there won't be more cuts or other tax increases?  I doubt it, but it makes it less likely and it will make the current budget more manageable.  I, for one, do not want to see any more cuts.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Emailed comments from viewers:

Certainly nobody likes new taxes, especially in these difficult economic times, however a sales tax increase of 25 cents per hundred dollar expenditure, spread across most discretionary expenses hardly seem unreasonable.  
The alternative of burdening only the homeowners will only result in more "for sale" signs and countless new foreclosures.  
Progressive counties find palatable solutions to difficult times and this proposal certainly goes a long way to maintaining the programs and services that make New Hanover  
County the place we have all come to enjoy and call home.  
I've lived in places that continually cut spending to avoid necessary revenue increases and I can tell you, those places are bleak and dreary with crumbling infrastructure and poor quality of life amenities.  
Think before you are "penny wise and pound foolish"


C'mon Gary, you usually think things through a bit better than you did on this one. Commissioners refuse to state where the additional tax revenue would be spent i.e x% is required for education, y% is required for Sheriffs Dept. Rather, they use the age old "threaten the voters with cuts to the services they like" approach.  If I was convinced the Commissioners did an exhaustive search for cuts and it left no alternative but to raise taxes, I would support it. But in a County where something as blatant as the ABC Chairs salary was recently an issue, I think they have come up short in their analysis. It simply isn't enough for them to say "give me the money and trust I'll spend it well!"


Copyright 2010 WECT. All rights reserved.