BY KARISSA MILLER
Iredell County commissioners have unanimously approved a motion opposing placing a sales tax increase on next year’s ballot.
Commissioner Gene Houpe, who introduced the motion during Tuesday’s board meeting, explained that the board discussed a move to put a sales tax increase vote on the primary ballot in 2022 during their winter retreat.
The sales tax increase would create a new revenue stream that could be used to address budget gaps that exist for the school systems and county.
“We can use stimulus monies made available by the state and federal governments to fill the short-term needs at least for a cycle,” Houpe explained.
“As conservatives, historically we never go to the taxpayers for a revenue consideration unless the needs are legitimate and there are no other revenue streams available. The available stimulus money can be used and the timing in our economy was not right,” he added.
Houpe said that he wanted commissioners to weigh in to give the county manager and finance staff direction in planning their upcoming budget.
Commissioner Scottie Brown agreed.
“We can’t keep taxing and taxing. Right now, Iredell is in pretty good shape … better than we thought,” Brown said.
Vice Chairwoman Melissa Neader said that many Iredell businesses aren’t on solid ground right now. She also agreed with the motion to hold off on a sales tax referendum.
“We’ve traditionally lived within our means. We haven’t raised taxes unless there’s been a specific need out there,” said Chairman James Mallory added.
Mallory explained in the past projects on the county’s capital improvement plan have been bumped off the list or postponed for several years because the county strives to live within its means.
The amount of stimulus money that the county receives will be based on population. The county is estimating that it will receive around $35 million.
Mallory said that revenue would give commissioners the ability to begin work on some capital projects, such as work at Jennings Park that have been in the “too hard to do box.”
He added that commissioners have already reviewed the plans from different departments, but it will come down to prioritizing those projects.
Houpe said the school systems will receive their own stimulus funds.
In other business, the public hearing to consider rezoning approximately 1.69 acres at the corner of Ostwalt Amity Road and Bethesda Road that would allow for the building of a Dollar General store was removed from the agenda.
The applicant, Joe Strickland, who represents Teramore Development, withdrew his application for the rezoning.
During the meeting, commissioners:
• Approved a request from Iredell-Statesville Schools of advancement of using $6.5 million in bond proceeds for the new high school. Also, approved a request from I-SS re-prioritize their capital project ordinance based on the cost of construction.
• Approved a request from the Fire Tax Oversight for a budget amendment of $107,070 from the countywide fire tax district fund balance to Monticello Volunteer Fire Department to pay off land purchased for a future fire station.
• Approved a request from the Fire Tax Oversight to approve a budget amendment of $200,000 from the countywide fire tax district fund balance to West Iredell Volunteer Fire Department to purchase land for a future fire station
• Approved a request from Iredell Library to apply for a COVID-19 response mini-grant from the State Library of North Carolina. Consider a request from Iredell Library to apply for a COVID-19 response mini-grant from the State Library of North Carolina.
• Approved a request from Parks and Recreation for approval to nominate East Iredell Lions Club for the Lowe’s Hometown Grant program. This is a grant for a new playground.
• Approved a request from Building Standards for a sole-source award and approval of contract to acquire Tyler Technologies ENERGOV software solution. The total first year cost is $534,330.
• Approved a resolution in opposition to court appointed commissioner’s fees in Senate Bill 196.