Local Sales & Use Tax Referendum

Build Schools Build Minds

The Board of Commissioners of Rutherford County has resolved to dedicate revenue generated by a ¼-cent local sales and use tax to help fund the critical public education facility needs facing Rutherford County.  “We are at a turning point here in the county. Our educational systems are top notch. Our RCS superintendent is rated #1 in the state,” said Chairman Bryan King of the Board of Commissioners, emphasizing that our county's success requires the entire community's support for continued educational growth and success. Rutherford County residents now have the opportunity to vote on a local sales and use tax referendum. If voters approve the referendum, then the local sales and use tax would slightly increase by one-quarter percent, from 6.75% to 7%, creating a steady revenue stream that will help to meet the county’s pressing educational facility needs. 

How would the one-quarter percent increase affect my actual spending?

A one-quarter percent (0.25%) increase would represent a slight change in regular spending. Sales tax charged on a $100 purchase would increase by $0.25. The following examples demonstrate the effect on various spending levels:

  • Sales tax charged on a $1 purchase would increase by one-fourth of a penny ($0.0025)
  • Sales tax charged on a $10 purchase would increase by 2.5 cents ($0.025)
  • Sales tax charged on a $100 purchase would increase by 25 cents ($0.25)
  • Sales tax charged on a $1,000 purchase would increase by $2.50  

Are any items I might purchase exempt from the sales tax?

The sales tax will apply to purchases on items like clothing, household supplies, and electronics, as well as prepared food and drinks (restaurant or store). However, numerous items are exempt from the sales tax, including prescription medication, gasoline, certain agricultural supplies, and motor vehicles. Non-prepared food (groceries) are also exempt under North Carolina General Statute 105-164.13B. For a detailed listing, please see North Carolina General Statute 105-164.13  

What would the funds generated by the local sales and use tax actually support?

The Board of Commissioners of Rutherford County has resolved to direct all revenue generated by the local sales and use tax toward funding the critical educational facility needs facing our community. A facilities committee established by the Rutherford County Board of Education completed a comprehensive analysis of Rutherford County Schools facilities. Cliffside Elementary School, R-S Middle School, and the bus garage/maintenance facility were identified as the school system facilities in most urgent need of replacement and were therefore prioritized in the first phase of a two-phase building plan.  Phase 2 focuses on facility needs at Chase High School and East Rutherford High School that must be addressed within the next ten years. 

How much funding would the local sales and use tax generate?

Recent estimates suggest that the one-quarter percent local sales and use tax would generate approximately $1,200,000 each year. In contrast, a one-cent increase in the local property tax rate is estimated to generate about $530,000. By way of comparison, a much smaller increase in the sales tax rate would generate considerably more annual funding that a much larger increase to the local property tax rate would generate. Because the proposed adjustment affects the sales tax rate, not property taxes, visitors to our county would help fund local educational facility needs every time they make a purchase in Rutherford County. As Rutherford County tourism continues to grow through attractions like the World Equestrian Games at Tryon International Equestrian Center, increased visitor spending will generate even greater sales tax revenues. 

What will the referendum actually look like on the ballot?

North Carolina General Statute 105-537(c) mandates that the question appear on the ballot exactly as follows:

         [  ] FOR   [  ] AGAINST 
Local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes.  

While the Board of Commissioners has resolved to dedicate the additional funding to local educational facility needs, the statute does not permit the ballot to state or otherwise reflect that commitment. All voters are encouraged to look for and consider the referendum when they cast their ballots in the May 8 primary.
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