News: CJ Exclusives

Booze and bonds won voter support in election

Only two of 17 local tax measures passed, but alcohol and bond referendums were more successful

Tuesday was a good day for alcohol proponents and supporters of bond measures.

It was not a particularly good day for people hoping to get additional local sales taxes. And it was a bad day for Tobaccoville Mayor Billy McHone.

Voters in the Forsyth County town of Tobaccoville voted to recall McHone, who’d resigned in January but rescinded his resignation before the town board could accept it. The vote wasn’t close — 69 percent to 31 percent.

Voters in 14 counties — Bladen, Carteret, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Henderson, Jones, Mitchell, Pasquotank, Rockingham, Rutherford, Stanly, Stokes, and Swain — defeated referendums that would have raised their local sales tax by 0.25 percent.

However, Wake County did approve a 0.5 percent local sales tax to be used for transit. A supplemental school tax passed in Halifax County.

Gates County voters defeated a school construction property tax.

“It shows that voters across the state are rightly skeptical about increases in taxes,” said Julie Tisdale, city and county policy analyst at the John Locke Foundation. “Sales taxes affect everything that we all buy, pretty much.”

Voters could be thinking that local governments may not be spending the money they already have as effectively as possible, Tisdale said. She also said she wasn’t surprised that the school tax passed in Halifax County since voters are sympathetic to schools.

“In Wake County, No. 1, there was a very specific purpose,” Tisdale said. “And No. 2, Wake County voters are just a little bit more left-leaning than voters in most parts of the state. They’re a little bit more likely to vote for these sorts of tax increases than many voters in other parts of the state.”

Voters approved 32 local alcohol referendums.

Countywide measures passed in Alexander, Bertie, Davidson, Haywood, Johnston, and Vance County. Other alcohol ballot measures were approved in Taylorsville, Glen Alpine, Waco, Casar, Mocksville, Stanley, Clayton, Grantsboro, and Badin.

“It’s not surprising that people just want the freedom to make these choices for themselves and to see local business grow,” Tisdale said. She noted that the state is seeing a lot of craft breweries and an interest in alcohol in the state.”

Voters across the state didn’t hesitate to approve bond measures.

“I do wonder if people really understand how bonds work,” Tisdale said. “Bonds are loans. They have to be paid back. They almost always involve new taxation or increased taxation.” The tax component usually isn’t clear on the ballot, she said.

Brunswick County approved school bonds. Asheville approved transportation, housing, and parks and recreation bonds. Woodfin also approved parks and recreation bonds.

Durham County approved community college, library, museum, and school bonds. Forsyth County approved school, community college, and parks and recreation bonds.

Guilford County approved housing, community and economic development, parks and recreation, and transportation bonds. Mecklenburg County approved transportation, housing, and neighborhood improvement bonds.

Wilmington approved parks and recreation bonds. Orange County approved school and low and moderate income housing bonds.

Union County approved community college, library, and school bonds. Goldsboro approved parks and recreation and infrastructure bonds.

Voters in Onslow County approved a measure altering the structure of the board of county commissioners. Voters in Polk County did not.