FAQ: 1/4 Cent Sales Tax Referendum

Is a sales tax different from property tax?
Property taxes are assessed based on the value of property you own, while sales taxes are generated from monetary transactions. By design, the added one-quarter of one-cent sales and use tax will allow non-property owners, as well as those traveling to Wayne County to shop or make purchases, to help share the burden of funding local school projects and construction costs. 
 
If approved by voters, what would the effect be on the taxpayer?
The current combined state and local sales tax rate for Wayne County is 6.75% or six and three-quarters of a cent for a $1.00 purchase. If approved by voters, the rate would change to 7%. The effect of the additional one-quarter (1/4¢) sales and use tax is 25 cents on a $100 purchase.
 
What about the North Carolina Education Lottery? Doesn't the state provide lottery dollars for school construction?
While the North Carolina Lottery reported $2.8 billion in gross ticket sales this past fiscal year, the Wayne County Board of Education received $1.3 million from lottery revenues during this same time. It is especially important to note that all Wayne County Public Schools lottery dollars are encumbered and are currently being used to help pay off the $46.8 million new school construction projects at Grantham Middle and Spring Creek Middle which opened in August of 2015.

How does the addition of a 1/4¢ sales tax compare to the sales tax in neighboring counties? 
Wayne County citizens are currently paying the additional one quarter cent sales tax when shopping in the nearby counties of Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Harnett, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, and Sampson, which all have a 7% sales tax rate. Shopping in the triangle is even higher, with the following sales tax rates being reported: Durham County (7.5%), Wake County (7.25%), and Orange County (7.5%) 

How much money will be raised through this tax?
The Wayne County Finance Department estimates, based on current sales tax figures, that the one fourth of a penny sales and use tax would generate approximately $2.6 million annually. Having this funding stream will position the Wayne County Board of Commissioners to borrow approximately $32 million to complete 40 approved school projects over the next 5 years.   

How will this money be used?
The one fourth of a penny sales and use tax will be used solely to address the school district’s needs for new school construction, classroom additions, renovations or campus updates, and safety & security upgrades. Click on the following link to see a Breakdown of Approved School Projects.  

Are there items exempt from the sales tax?
The sales and use tax referendum excludes gas, prescription medication, and non-prepared foods or groceries.
 
Who put this referendum on the Primary Election ballot?
The Wayne County Board of Commissioners, at the request of the Wayne County Board of Education, added the proposed one-quarter of one-cent sales and use tax to the March 3, 2020 Primary Election ballot. Since it was added in December 2019, both the Town of Fremont and Town of Mount Olive have passed resolutions in support.

Why put this referendum on the ballot?
Wayne County Public Schools has needs of well over $100 million in building replacements, classroom additions, renovations or campus updates, and safety & security upgrades that have to be addressed in the coming years. In the absence of other available funding streams to complete these projects, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners have committed to using the proposed one-quarter of one-cent sales and use tax to immediately begin helping the Board of Education address some of its more critical school facility needs.
 
 
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