by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
What you may have missed in the craziness of yesterday’s election and this morning’s post-mortem is that there were 80 local referenda held across North Carolina. The results were mostly predictable and unsurprising, but here’s a quick rundown.
There were 33 different referenda on alcohol. These were about allowing sales of beer and wine or about allowing ABC stores either in counties or in particular municipalities. All of them passed and by mostly very healthy margins.
There were 27 different bond issues for a variety of purposes – schools, transportation, parks, housing. Unsurprisingly, as they usually do, all of these bonds pass. Bonds are debt, and that debt has to be paid back through taxation, so taxpayers in Buncombe, Brunswick, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Orange, Union, and Wayne Counties should prepare for higher taxes.
There were 15 county sales taxes on ballots, and 14 of them failed. Only one, the sales tax in Wake County to fund an ill-conceived transit plan, passed. Wake County should prepare for significant additional taxes, tens to hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the next decade.
There were two counties that voted on a property tax to fund schools. After failing in 2012, Halifax County’s passed yesterday. But Gates County’s didn’t. I don’t think that Gates County voters care any less about their kids than voters in Halifax or anywhere else in the state. But they told the county they’d have to think again before raising property taxes. Well done, Gates.