County officials are engaging in a little retail politicking as they attempt to drum up support for a quarter penny sales tax increase.
County Commissioner Joyce McDow said she wants to make sure that locals understand that “it’s a quarter of one penny — not 25 cents.”
“That’s been the biggest misunderstanding. We don’t all see it in our heads the same way when we read ‘quarter cent’ and I’m trying to help with that,” McDow said.
Currently at 6.75 percent, the sales tax would move up to an even seven cents on the dollar if the increase were to be approved via referendum and voted into effect by the board of commissioners. At the earliest, the increase would begin showing up on sales receipts in April of next year.
Along with McDow, several other county commissioners are taking the sales tax campaign to the streets, appearing at meetings of local civic groups and organizations to solicit ‘yes’ votes on Nov. 6.
According to McDow, the commissioners made a list of local groups they wished to target in their promotional efforts.
“Our County Manager Kevin Patterson is going to speak at a right many of those groups to educate them about the tax,” McDow said.
McDow herself spoke at recent a meeting of the Scotland County Democratic Women and will speak this week at a meeting of the Laurinburg Branch of the National Association of University Women.
“I will also be talking to people at church and all around the county. All the people I come into contact with. What I’m hoping is that everybody will understand that this is a fair tax, that everyone pays, even those outside our community who come here to shop.”
McDow said that she is also careful to point out that it “does not apply to items necessary to life.”
Included among the items that would not be subject to the sales tax are most non-prepared food items, prescription drugs, gasoline, vehicle purchases or utilities payments.
Ideally word of the tax’s benefits will begin to travel by word of mouth, carrying it to success on election day.
Commissioner Carol McCall has also been highlighting the potentially large effect that such a small tax could have on county government.
“Each person is impacted in such a small way and the county will gain $600,000 worth of revenue,” McCall said.
The county’s work to promote the tax has already led to an endorsement by the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce.
Both McCall and McDow are cautiously optimistic about the tax’s passage, hoping that it will not suffer at the polls from a knee jerk reaction by voters to seeing the word “tax” on the ballot.
“I think the people who understand it fully support it,” McCall said.
“It’s our job now to help them understand it.”