Voters may be asked to decide whether they want a quarter cent sales tax this November.
The Scotland County Board of Commissioners will be asked to determine at its regular meeting on Monday whether a referendum granting the county the right to create a quarter cent sales tax should be included on the ballot Nov. 6.
If approved by voters and enacted by the board, the sales tax would raise approximately $600,000. The tax would be added to the current county sales tax of two percent.
While everyone would pay the sales tax, it would not apply to most non-prepared food items, prescription drugs, gasoline, vehicle purchases or utilities payments.
In practical terms, a $100 purchase of a taxable good would cost an additional 25 cents.
In 2007 the General Assembly granted counties the authority to allow voters to approve a quarter cent sales tax via referendum.
If the referendum is approved by the board, the sales tax question will appear on the ballot as follows: “For Against Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes.”
“If the item fails to pass referendum, it is end of story, and if it passes, then it will go on to a vote by the (Board of Commissioners),” County Manager Kevin Patterson said.
According to Patterson, county sales tax revenue was a fairly stable source of funding “until over the past several years it dropped by nearly a third.”
“It has stabilized some this year,” Patterson said.
Patterson said that 24 other North Carolina counties have enacted a quarter cent sales tax following a referendum like the one that Scotland County voters may be facing.
At the board’s discretion, a special election could be held for the referendum rather than simply including the referendum on the ballot this November. In that case, Patterson said that the turnout would only be “hundreds” versus the several thousand that will likely take to the polls this November.
If passed in November, the earliest the tax could be enacted would be April 1 of next year.
Also on Monday the board will determine whether to allow the town of Maxton to collect a fire tax, payable to Queheel Fire Department in Robeson County. Currently both Queheel and the city of Laurinburg Fire Departments respond to calls within the municipality. If the area within the town of Maxton, including that portion located in Scotland County, is incorporated into the Queheel Fire District, it will likely mean an insurance savings for those affected by the change.