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BOS votes to place sales tax question on ballot

Starting next summer, Charlotte County citizens could be looking at an additional 1% sales tax that would help fund school projects.

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted Monday, July 13, 6 to 1 to petition the circuit court to request a referendum be placed on the November ballot allowing citizens to vote on the additional sales tax.

If citizens vote yes on the referendum, the BOS would then adopt a resolution to add the 1% sales tax beginning July 2021.

Vice-Chairman Gary Walker voted no, saying he wanted to be sure that the additional tax would help lower taxes for citizens in the future, but that it appeared that the additional tax would not be used for such.

Earlier this year, legislation was approved by both the State House and State Senate and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam that allows additional local sales tax in certain localities to be used for construction or renovation of schools.

At its Jan 8 meeting, the BOS unanimously voted to adopt a resolution in support of a 1% sales tax increase and requested that Del. James Edmunds introduce legislation giving the county the authority to place a referendum on the November ballot.

According to County Administrator Dan Witt, the 1% tax would go away once the debt service is paid off or once the projects are completed.

Witt said the tax would be a user tax and does not negatively impact low and middle-income persons and has the potential to lessen the tax burden by bringing in an estimated $700,000 in additional revenue to the county.

If approved, the tax would be placed on beer, wine, cigarettes, and prepared foods.

“Medicine and food off the shelf would not be taxed,” Witt said.

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni who will serve on a newly created committee that will work to inform citizens of the needed tax said if the referendum is successfully passed, the revenue generated from the 1% sales tax increase will go into a separate fund which can only be used for school renovations or new school construction.

“Unlike other taxes, such as Consumer Utility Tax, none of the revenue will go to the towns,” Pierantoni said. “It will be used 100% for desperately needed repairs and updates to school buildings.”

Pierantoni further said if this tax does not pass, she believes the course of action will be to continue to raise real estate and personal property taxes while just doing the bare minimum at the schools. 

“Further raising of real estate taxes hurts our chances for economic development among things while continuing to allow schools to be on a back burner,” Pierantoni said. “I believe this one-cent sales tax will have a very positive effect across the county and be good for our future.

I hope all citizens will agree that we need to have safe buildings for our students that promote a good learning environment.”