Crystal Coast towns working budgets to fund water dredging after sales tax hike fails

The 0.25% increase failed on Carteret County ballots earlier this month.
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:57 PM EST
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CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Clean waterways will continue to be a costly project on the Crystal Coast after a proposed 0.25% sales tax increase failed on Carteret County ballots on election day.

“I think government should use tax increases only as a last resort,” said Atlantic Beach Mayor Trace Cooper. “There’s a state matching fund that we take advantage of, and we’re going to continue to do that. Had this passed, we might have been able to remove that part from our local property tax.”

The increase would have hiked the county’s sales tax rate from the state floor of 6.5% to the state ceiling of 6.75%.

“The thought process was that the sales tax, if it did pass, would go into its own reserve and that money would be used for all waterway dredging,” said Carteret County Shoreline Protection Manager Rudi Rudolph.

The proposed sales tax increase would have shifted at least part of the burden away from Carteret County towns and toward the county. Officials also said it would have shifted part of that weight off of homeowners and onto tourists and visitors.

“As a resort community, a large portion of the sales tax paid here is paid by visitors from out of the county, even out of the state,” said Cooper. “The visitors who pay a lot of our sales tax, don’t pay any of the property tax that funds the services, so this shifts the burden a little bit.”

Officials also said part of the increase would have been used to fund a proposed school bond, which passed on the same ballot.

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