A taxing challenge

Moore County residents should give strong consideration to voting in favor of a tax increase in November.

Remain calm, Moore Republicans! Our blog has not been hacked. It’s editors have not been taken hostage. Keep reading.

In a world sharply divided by Republican and Democrat ideological wars, if there is one common rallying point in a community such as ours it is the necessity for quality education. As the Sandhills demographic shifts toward couples with young and growing families, long neglected, antiquated and over-crowded schools have come into sharp focus. And it’s overdue.

This explains why readers of The Pilot were greeted by the headline, School Bonds Pass in a Landslide, after bond referendums appeared on May primary ballots. General obligations bonds providing $103 million to build three public schools in Aberdeen, Southern Pines and Pinehurst were approved by 79% of voters. A separate bond to provide $20 million to build a new health education center at Sandhills Community College passed with a 77% approval rate.

Reported The Pilot‘s David Sinclair in an August 9 update:

“Voters approved the bond issue … with the understanding it could result in a 5- to 7-cent property tax increase in two years. But the (Moore County Commissioners) hope to minimize that by convincing those same voters to approve a quarter-cent increase in the local sales (tax) in November (on the mid-term ballot).”

Commissioners recently voted to approve the inclusion of the quarter-cent sales tax referendum (adding 25 cents to a $100 purchase and excluding the tax from being applied to food, medicine and vehicle fuel purchases). The panel also voted to pledge that all sales tax increase revenue will be used only for school construction costs.

It’s very easy for voters to understand the correlation between taking on bond debt and the need to service the debt. The logic of the minuscule tax increase is that it “could knock 2 to 3 cents off a property tax increase need to repay bond debt” down the road, The Pilot reported.

The hurdle now facing the commissioners and supporters of the tax increase was imposed by none other than the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh. The GA repeated its stubborn stand of 2016. Raleigh politicians, especially Republicans led by Phil Berger, refuse to allow the wording of the referendum to specify that the tax increase is for school construction — the same school construction needs that drove voters to approve the bond referendums in May.

If we want beautiful, state-of-the-art, safe schools in our community, now is the time to begin educating friends and neighbors. It’s an uphill battle. The same quarter-cent increase failed by 428 votes in March 2016. Why? Voters caught off guard read “tax increase” and, in many cases, reflexively voted “NO”.

It’s a widely held myth that Republicans oppose taxes and tax increases. We oppose wasteful spending and unsustainable entitlements that require endless tax hikes. Building new schools is not wasteful spending and is highly sustainable due to the approved bonds.

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