BOS supports sales tax increase

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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“Dan” Witt

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously voted during its Jan. 8 meeting to adopt a resolution in support of a 1% sales tax increase that would help fund school projects. The BOS requested that Del. James Edmunds introduce legislation giving the county the authority to place a referendum on the November ballot.

If citizens vote yes on the referendum, the BOS would then adopt a resolution to add the 1% sales tax beginning July 2021. “The taxpayers will have the final say,” said County Administrator Daniel “Dan” Witt. “If they say no then the Board has some tough decisions to make.”

Witt further said the 1% tax to help fund school projects would go away once the debt service is paid off or once the projects are completed.

“I think it’s a good idea if we can use the 1% to reduce property taxes and if it can be used for existing debt service for schools,” said vice-chairman, Gary Walker.

“I don’t know if this type of legislation can be used for existing debt service for schools or if it is only for new projects,” Witt comment.

According to Witt, the tax would be a user tax and does not negatively impact low and middle-income persons and has the potential to lessen the tax burden by bringing in an estimated $700,000 in additional revenue to the county.

The sales tax, if approved, would be placed on items such as beer, wine, cigarettes and prepared foods. “Medicine and food off the shelf would not be taxed,” added Witt.

“Renovations to the schools must be done, and I think a 1% sales tax earmarked for that purpose would help ease the tax burden currently being borne by landowners,” said citizen Kathy Liston during the public comment section of the Boards meeting. “It would be

a “user tax” paid by everyone who makes a purchase in the county, whether citizen or passer-through. One penny on the dollar is not much to the consumer, but those pennies can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars to help our schools.”

Charlotte Court House resident Terry Ramsey disagrees with the proposed tax saying it hits the poorest people the hardest.

“My view is sales tax is a regressive tax hitting the poorest people the hardest. For example, low-income people must spend all their income on daily living with a greater percentage subject to sales tax,” he said. “Higher-income people need only spend part of their income for daily living with a smaller percentage subject to sales tax. The poor, many of whom are elderly, have little discretionary income, and while 1% may sound small, it’s a lot when you have little.”