by Sam Hieb
In Tuesday’s primary election Rockingham County citizens approved a 1/4-cent sales tax hike. The referendum passed with 55 percent of the vote.
The new revenue –in theory–will fund a $15 million Center for Workforce Development on the campus of Rockingham Community College. The county’s Board of Commissioners debated and discussed the sales tax hike before voting to put it on the ballot:
Despite an ability to pass a resolution explaining the designation of revenues collected, which the county government has done, the sales tax is not restricted or earmarked and can be used for any county allowed use, according to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
Commissioner Keith Mabe, who was the lone no vote on Monday, has said publicly that he believes that to be an issue. The RCC alumnus supports a new Workforce Development Center, but he said he didn’t agree with the sales tax approach.
“You can sell it whatever you want to sell it, you can call it whatever you want to call it, but it’s two words there that people in this county don’t like and apparently a lot of people don’t like it because it wouldn’t have failed 3 to 1 the last two times at bat,” Mabe said.
The Eden resident made it clear that he preferred financing the workforce development center through a voter approved bond and that increasing property tax is a better option than sales tax.
Indeed industrial technical programs are becoming a viable option for students (and parents) hoping to avoid the absolutely insane cost of a four-year education at a college or university. Let’s hope the funding from this increased sales tax goes toward that end and not toward the salaries of bureaucrats holding endless committee meetings to ponder the meaning of “workforce development.”