News: CJ Exclusives

Debt fared better than taxes in local referendums

In addition to choosing representatives, and deciding six statewide constitutional amendments Tuesday, Nov. 6, North Carolina voters approved more than $1.8 billion in local bonds for K-12 and community college projects, parks and open spaces, low-income housing, and street improvements.

Voters also weighed in on sales tax increases, alcoholic beverage sales, and local government reforms.

Wake County will issue more than $1 billion in bonds. Voters approved $548 million in general obligation bonds for new school construction, technology upgrades, security improvements, and other capital expenses (passing with 66.6 percent of the vote); $349 million in bonds for building, renovating, and equipping Wake Technical Community College buildings (65 percent); and $120 million for greenways, parks, recreation, and open space acquisition and construction (67.9 percent). Voters in Holly Springs approved $40 million for transportation improvement bonds with 59.8 percent support.

Three Mecklenburg County communities approved bonds totaling $265 million. Charlotte voters approved a $118 million transportation referendum on street, lighting, and pedestrian improvements (68.9 percent); $50 million to build housing for low- and moderate-income people (68.3 percent); and $55 million for neighborhood infrastructure improvements (72.8 percent). Cornelius voters approved a $24 million bond question for street and other transportation work (70.4 percent). Mint Hill voters approved a $3 million bond to buy land and build facilities for cultural and public events (52.5 percent); and $15 million in parks and recreation bonds (53 percent).

Alamance County voters approved $189.6 million in bonds. Of that, $150 million was approved to enlarge, renovate, and replace public school buildings and other facilities (69.4 percent), and $39.6 million for Alamance Community College to build, renovate, and repair buildings (65.9 percent).

Winston-Salem voters approved several referendums totaling $122 million. They included $43.7 million to build sidewalks and improve streets (65.9 percent); $21.1 million to build public safety facilities and a public safety radio communication system (64.9 percent); $31 million to acquire land and build and renovate parks and recreation facilities (64.7 percent); $11.7 million for urban renewal, building and rehabilitating low- and moderate-income multifamily housing (61.6 percent); and $14.5 million to purchase land, reduce blight, and for economic development (58.4 percent).

Johnston County voters approved $76 million in bonds, including a $61 million school bond to buy land, build, and equip one or more new buildings (63.9 percent), and $15 million to build one or more community college buildings (62 percent).

Union County voters approved a $42 million bond to build, renovate, and expand public safety facilities including the Sheriff’s Office and an emergency services facility (53.5 percent). They rejected a $9.7 million bond to build and equip a 4-H pavilion for the Union County Cooperative Extension (58.3 percent).

Caswell County voters approved a $36.5 million bond for school construction, renovation, and security improvements (61.2 percent). The town of Cedar Point in Carteret County approved a $2.5 million general obligation bond to buy land for a public park (68.5 percent).

Chapel Hill voters approved a referendum to issue $10 million in general obligation bonds to provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents. The vote was spread between Orange County (72.1 percent) and Durham County (63.7 percent).

Tax measures

A quarter-penny increase on local sales and use tax appeared in referendums in 20 counties. Voters in 16 counties gave thumbs down to referenda. They were: Alamance (54.3 percent), Alleghany (58.2 percent), Avery (64.7), Bertie (51.5 percent), Bladen (67.9 percent), Caldwell (74.6 percent), Caswell (72.8 percent), Columbus (54.6 percent), Davie (52.3 percent), Iredell (68.7 percent), Lenoir (51.5 percent), Madison (53.5 percent), McDowell (67.3 percent), Moore (58.9 percent), Scotland (67.6 percent), and Wayne (57.4 percent).

Giving thumbs up to the tax hikes were Forsyth (68.2 percent), Graham (62.5 percent), Stanly (50.8 percent), and Swain (54.3 percent).

Seven counties approved raising the sales tax in the May primary, and five defeated the measures.

Voters in Montgomery County approved a fire protection tax in the Wadeville Fire Protection District (61.3 percent). Davie County voters approved a Rural Fire Protection District tax (55.5 percent).

Alcohol referendums

Alcohol sales ballot questions were decided in several counties and towns.

Anson County rejected a host of measures: malt beverage sales on and off premises (63.5 percent disapproval); malt beverage sales on premises only (66.6 percent); malt beverage sales off premises only (71.2 percent); malt beverage sales at hotels (62.6 percent); unfortified wine sales on premises only (67.2 percent); unfortified wine sales off premises only (71.5 percent); and mixed beverage sales (58.9 percent).

Approving referendums were:

Town of Long View (mixed beverage sales)  — in the Burke County portion of town (52.4 percent); in the Catawba County section (53.2 percent).

Town of Tabor in Columbus County — sales of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers (50.4 percent).

Gaston County — On premises and off premises sale of malt beverages (59.9 percent); on premises and off premises sale of unfortified wine (61.1 percent); operating ABC stores (70.3 percent); and selling mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers (70.2 percent).

Town of Red Springs in Robeson County — selling mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers (63 percent).

Town of Pikeville in Wayne County — selling mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers (58.5 percent).

Mixed results occurred in:

Town of Boiling Springs in Cleveland County — Approved sales of malt beverage on and off premises (63.6 percent); sales of malt beverage on premises only (53.3 percent); on premises sale of malt beverages by Class A hotels, motels and restaurants only, and off premises sale to other permittees approved (61 percent); on premises and off premises sale of unfortified wine approved (64.4 percent); on premises only sale of unfortified wine (52.4 percent). Voters rejected sales of malt beverage off premises only (51.9 percent) and off premises only sale of unfortified wine (50.8 percent).

Government reorganization

Charter amendment questions went down in two Cumberland County municipalities:

Fayetteville — Increasing terms of office for the mayor and City Council members to four years (64.6 percent).

Hope Mills — Staggered terms for the Board of Commissioners and mayor (57 percent).

The Town of Summerfield in Guilford County approved a change in length of service for appointees to council vacancies from the remainder of the unexpired term to the next regularly scheduled town election (54.1 percent). Voters rejected changing the form of government from a council-manager structure to a mayor-council design (68 percent).