The tax increase could generate as much as
Clarke and board Chairman
Fuller and Clarke said they have a solid five-vote majority to add the referendum to the November ballot. They said commissioners
It comes on the eve of a public hearing Wednesday on Diorio's recommendations that would give CMS all it requested, except for
Commissioners are expecting a packed chamber of mostly CMS teachers and parents to advocate for better pay.
"What we're doing is trying to address in a sustainable way the need to increase compensation for CMS and other employees," Fuller said. "It's clear that the state is not wanting to really step up to the task that needs to be taken. What this plan aims to do is put these issues before the people and let the people decide whether these things are important."
Under their proposal, 75 percent of the money generated from the quarter-of-a-cent increase would fund pay supplements for CMS employees, 10 percent would go for salary supplements at CPCC, 10 percent to support
Fuller said the effort is a longer-term solution since the earliest the county could begin collecting revenues would be
"This is more aimed at sustainability than it is for the budget for coming fiscal year," he said. "We need to have a sustainable way to keep
Clarke said state legislators are discussing pay raises of 5 to 11 percent and "that's certainly more than the average person is getting. What we've always done is supplement the state salary. This is just a continuation of that policy."
He said the board would have to take away from other programs to satisfy the CMS request and "there's just no support to do that."
The idea has circulated privately between commissioners, but Clarke told the Observer the discussions didn't violate the state open meeting laws.
"There's not been any private meetings with (a quorum of) five commissioners in the room," he said.
The county's sales tax is currently at 7.25 percent. That's one of the highest in the state because of the special half-cent sales tax for mass transit, which has been levied since the late 1990s and is dedicated to the
There also is a special countywide penny sales tax on prepared food and beverages and a tax on hotel and motel rooms. Both fund tourism.
Since counties were given the ability to levy a quarter-cent sales tax, local officials have discussed a number of possible uses, including transit, highways and parks. But there have been no serious considerations about levying the tax until now.
Raising teacher pay remains CMS's highest priority, Superintendent
Diorio said no one disputes that
She said that providing the money for teacher raises would set a precedent and make the county forever obligated, a prospect that could threaten
Diorio recommended that the county's property tax rate remain stable. Her budget would increase CMS funding by
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