RALEIGH: Plan to cap local sales tax riles Raleigh leaders - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Plan to cap local sales tax riles Raleigh leaders

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Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said a bill to limit Raleigh's sales tax could stifle growth. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said a bill to limit Raleigh's sales tax could stifle growth.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Raleigh's mayor is on the offensive, trying to stop a plan to limit how much her city can charge in sales taxes.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane said a bill that is expected to go up for a final vote in the State Senate on Thursday could stifle growth and make Wake County choose between teachers and transportation, but some state lawmakers are not buying that argument.

McFarlane said a possible quarter-cent tax hike to boost public school salaries -- similar to a plan proposed in Mecklenburg County -- may never make it to voters.

"We're talking about a referendum," McFarlane said. "We're talking about the county commissioners being able to go to the citizens and say, 'Do you want to have this tax?' "

Wake County already adds two percent to the state's 4.75 percent sales tax. County Commissioners could ask voters to add on another half a percent to pay for regional transportation needs. There's also been talk about another quarter cent raise for teachers.

But House Bill 1224 would cap how much counties could raise their portion of the sales tax to 2.5 percent. That would force Wake County to leave off the extra quarter cent.

"We were named number one city in the country today by Forbes Magazine, so people are continuing to move here and we are obviously going to have more and more transportation issues," she said. "We need those tools at a local level, we need those tools to face issues that we have."

But those in favor of the bill disagree. Republican State Senator Buck Newton, who represents parts of Johnston, Nash and Wilson Counties, said it is unfair for large counties to hike their sales taxes to generate more revenue because rural counties with smaller tax bases don't have that option.

"It's really not about limiting the cities in my view," Newton said, "It's really about trying to help some of the smaller counties."

A final is expected on Thursday. Governor Pat McCrory, himself a former mayor of Charlotte, has not weighed in.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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