County manager: Sales tax proposal stalled in Raleigh

By Scott Witten - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — County officials said it looks like a sales tax redistribution plan expected to help rural counties like Scotland is dead for now.

County Manager Kevin Patterson told the county Board of Commissioners on Thursday that House Bill 117 is stalled in a General Assembly conference committee.

Patterson, who attended a economic summit in Washington earlier this week with Gov. Pat McCrory, said the governor reiterated his opposition to the plan.

“On Tuesday, the governor was fairly direct in that he did not support any redistribution of the sales tax,” Patterson said. “That bill is probably not going to make it out of the conference committee this year.”

For months, Senate and House lawmakers have been arguing over how to allocate money within the $21 billion budget. One of the points of contention is the sales tax distribution. The state Senate wants to redistribute more state money to rural counties and shift it away from more urban areas. The House does not.

Currently, 75 percent of sales tax goes to the county where goods are sold. A quarter of the tax is distributed based on population.

The Senate had proposed a flip, with 80 percent of revenues based on population and only 20 based on the location of sale. McCrory has indicated he might veto any bill that included the sales tax redistribution.

“He is just for the biggest counties to continue to get the funds,” Commissioner John Alford said.

The change is also opposed by urban areas in the state.

“You look at the counties that it would come from and what it would do to them it is pretty clear and why he would veto it,” Commissioner Bob Davis said.

Also on Thursday, the county board voted to amend the budget to accept a $20,000 grant for the Scotland County Health Department to deal with the deadly Ebola virus.

The grant will be used for training, staff education and the purchase of personal-protective equipment.

All counties in North Carolina received between $20,000 and $39,000 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help prepare for a possible outbreak. The money is distributed through the N.C. Public Health Preparedness.

Ebola is a rare viral hemorrhagic fever that can spur severe headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or unexplained hemorrhage, according to information from the CDC.

The county board also voted to amend the budget to accept a $2,500 gift from Murphy-Brown to help purchase a K9 officer for the sheriff’s office. Officials said no county funds will be used in the purchase.

In other business, the board voted to:

— Authorize the county tax administrator to collect the money generated from the Solid Waste Availability Fee. Patterson said the initial resolution did not include language that gave the tax office that authority. “We want to make sure we dot our i’s,” Patterson said.

— Approve a request by the city-county Crime and Drug Committee to reduce the board’s membership from 10 to eight, eliminating a county and city seat. The committee’s meetings will also move from the first Monday of each month to the first Thursday, in an effort to reach an attendance quorum at each meeting. The Lumberton City Council approved similar requests in August.

— Adopt a resolution authorizing the sale of a retired sheriff’s canine — K9 Captain Lola — to the dog’s handler.

— Approve a request from the Scotland County Public Library to forgive the fines of 509 library patrons. The fines total $3,239.70. The library has collected $11,000 in fines.

— Appoint Freddie Davis to the Scotland County Memorial Library Advisory Board.

By Scott Witten

[email protected]

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

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