Last updated: November 07. 2013 4:34PM - 509 Views
Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

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YADKINVILLE — The sales tax referendum in Yadkin County failed to pass in Tuesday’s elections.

The tax referendum finished with a vote of 58 percent against and 42 percent in favor.

In total, 3,058 ballots were cast across the county, with 3,019 voting on the sales tax issue. There are 23,700 registered voters in Yadkin County.

The tax referendum would have raised sales tax percentages in the county by a quarter of a percent, from 6.75 percent to an even seven percent.

Items like fast food and restaurant meals, clothing, and other goods would have been taxed. Items like medicine, gasoline and unprepared food at the grocery store would not have been affected.

County confusion

The vote was a confusing experience for many voters. Some did not understand how the tax increase would work, if the sales tax referendum would subsequently lower property taxes, or that the vote was even being held for residents outside the four towns.

One man in line at the Jonesville poll Tuesday asked those around him, “It has a place for us to vote to increase it by 0.25 percent. Can we vote to decrease it by that?”

The regular election cycle on an odd-numbered year, like 2013, only has municipal races on the ballot. Residents of Yadkinville, Jonesville, East Bend and Boonville vote for their mayors and commissioners, while residents of the county’s unincorporated areas have nothing for which to go to the polls.

This year the county board of commissioners voted to place the sales tax referendum on the ballot for all county residents.

The vote came in a commissioners’ meeting in early September to allow enough time for the measure to be submitted to the Yadkin Board of Elections.

The county was required to publish notice of the referendum no later than 45 days before the election, which it did.

Many town and unincorporated voters were unaware of the referendum as late as Election Day, despite an education campaign by the county and numerous endorsements by commissioners, the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce, the Yadkin County Farm Bureau and others.

What could have been

The existing sales tax percentage is set at 6.75 percent and will remain so following the vote. Had the referendum passed the rate would have been increased to seven percent.

The state sales tax rate is set at 4.75 percent. The additional two percent are the applicable local rates, according to the North Carolina Department of Revenue effective April 1, 2013.

The tax increase would have moved Yadkin into the same seven percent rate as neighboring Wilkes and Surry counties.

It also would have tied Yadkin County for the fourth highest tax rate in the state, according to the Department of Revenue.

There are 23 other counties that have the seven percent tax. Three counties have a rate higher than seven percent.

Both Forsyth and Iredell, Yadkin’s other neighbors, are at the 6.75 percent rate as of April 1.

Of the 100 counties in North Carolina, 73 have a 6.75 percent rate.

What could be

While the sales tax referendum failed to garner enough support this election, the issue may show up again on future ballots.

According to a county commissioner agenda abstract in September, the tax can be resubmitted to voters with no “cooling period” in between the two votes.

This means that the referendum question can be brought back up for a vote with no required period of months, days or years in between the two efforts.

There is no limitation to the number of attempts the measure can be brought up for subsequent votes, according to the agenda abstract.

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Kevin Austin said the issue could reappear during this or another board’s time in office.

“Our board or any future board can put it back on the ballot at any time, but I would think this matter has been resolved and is closed,” Austin said.

Austin said he was glad for the feedback county voters provided on the increase.

“Glad that the people were able to voice their position on this issue. I’m always interested in the public position and I’m a big supporter of it,” Austin said.

By the numbers

The tax referendum finished with a vote of 58 percent against and 42 percent in favor.

In total 3,019 voters cast their vote on the sales tax issue: 1,751 votes against and 1,268 for.

There were 98 one stop votes — 49 for and 49 against — and 21 absentee ballots. Eleven of the absentees voted against the measure and 10 voted for it.

On Election Day, 2,900 people cast ballots: 1,691 against and 1,209 for the increase.

Eleven of the county’s 12 precincts voted against the measure. Only South Fall Creek went for the increase with 65 votes for and 52 against.

The remaining 11 precincts all voted down the measure, with some margins as small as two votes — Boonville, with 198 for and 200 against — and some as large as 101 votes — Forbush’s 91 for and 192 against.

A similar Yadkin tax hike also was voted down in 2010, that one by a margin of roughly 4,000 for to 8,000 against.

That ballot question came on an even-year election cycle when state and national elections were under way, likely accounting for the higher participation in the vote.

Anthony Gonzalez contributed to this article.

Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.

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