OC Sales Tax Committee met for 1st time Tuesday to discuss work to pass the sales tax referendum in Nov. More to come...


I don't find the 7/26 meetng listed on county meeting calendar. and salestax page on county website still has info up about Nov 2010 election. hope all gets updated soon

Allan, the meeting took place this past Tuesday. The county's website on this had not been updated yet, but that is one of the first orders of business. The meeting was put together quickly to get the ball rolling earlier this time around. More information will be forthcoming in the next month.
- Molly De Marco

Anybody know?

Mark, it is a good mix of folks from the county and towns. Barry Jacobs and I are co-chairs. We will be rolling out info soon. Tuesday was just  a soft start to get some input and assign committee members tasks that need to get done so we can be up and running by the beginning of the school year.

To figure out how I feel about this referendum I've been trying to learn about sales taxes.  It seems like I pay two different rates depending on what or where I buy.  Anyway can someone tell me the type of purchases the tax increase will be on if the referendum passes? ThanksJim 

Jim, it is easier to tell you what won't be taxed. It is my understanding that prescription medication, groceries, and gas will not be taxed at the higher rate should the 1/4 cent sales tax referendum pass in November.As Penny noted above, more information will be forthcoming soon. 

See the following from the FAQ section of the link at the beginning of this thread. (which has been updated)


Are there items exempt from the sales tax?

There are a multitude of items that are exempt from the sales tax including prescription medication, gasoline, certain agricultural supplies and motor vehicles.  For a full listing, see North Carolina General Statute 105-164.13

Food (groceries) are also exempt per General Statute 105-164.13B


David Hunt

The 1/4% local sales tax up for a vote has the same tax base as the state sales tax (e.g food is exempt).  The potential 1/2% transit tax has the same food exemption.  The current regular local sales tax of 2% covers food, that is why your current grocery receipt has things at two different rates.

This already was voted down in the last election and is now back up when only municipal elections (county voters primarily responsible for defeat) are on the ballot. This will effectively weaken (disenfranchise) county representation (very light turnout) since is the only thing on the non municipal county ballot. Without any comprehesive tax relief (ie property tax) this thing is just another tax that will probably increase as times in the future.Hopefully all county voters won't be fooled into voting for this.Am disappointed that all those supposedly green Orange County comissioners decided not to put the transit tax on the ballot. This is where we should be putting any tax increases.Needless to say if it passes I'll be doing my non (food, medical )shopping at Tanger Outlets or Southpoint.  

Thanks for the information. Jim

Or does the incredible cost of multiple wars affect our local situation?

On Sat Jul 16 I went to Tanger Outlets for the first time.  It was much larger than I expected.  Counting from their webpage before I went, there are 79 stores.  From 3:15 to 3:40 pm there were 1,223 cars in the parking lot.  Yes, I walked the entire lot and counted all 1,223 cars (except for the 89 at the end that I counted as I was driving out).  I walked the lot so long that by the end I think security was following me, and I'm not kidding.  I don't know how many of those cars belonged to Tanger Outlet employees but OTOH the 1,223 cars I counted only included those in parking spaces and not the ones driving around, which over 25 minutes is a lot, so roughly speaking that's probably a wash.  How many shoppers by car, regardless of other shoppers, does that translate into in an ordinary, non-holiday Saturday?  Several thousand probably.  Before you get all excited about OC preventing a large number of cars on the roads by not having such a place within its borders, stop to think and realize that OC didn't prevent any cars on the roads at all but rather just determined who would get to spend the tax money that was generated by that invetiable commerce.  Tanger Outlets, for those that didn't already know, is less than one-half mile west (ie, wrong side) of the Alamance/Orange County border. And the answer to who would get to determine how that money generated by the commerce is spent is...the envelope, please...the leaders of Alamace County!  The leaders of Alamance Couny can't be here to accept the award personally tonight because they're too busy counting their money. But we're going to raise the sales tax on some items, at a point in time where we have already driven the people that will be paying the sales tax, into shopping at another county?  Benjamin Franklin had already addressed this in a well known phrase.  Would anyone like to guess?

Money is money - what else could you be thinking?

I thought the line by Franklin was "Time is money" but regardless, that's not what I was thinking of.  I was thinking more along the lines of "Penny wise and pound foolish."  There is a big, obvious and easy opportunity for us in Tanger and we let it pass us by, but hey, let's add a cent to the sales tax because it will bring in some extra dough, although it will simultaneously discourage commerce a bit since after all, a sales tax is a tax on sales.It's almost like we're aggressively passive when it comes to new businesses.  We not only don't seek them out, but when the opportunities are right in front of our eyes put our hands over our eyes and ears and yell "NAH, NAH, NAH, NAH, NAH" until somebody else takes the business.  Then we wake up a bit and say "Hey, we need some money, let's add a sales tax," by which time we're already hamstrung because we've limited ourselves by ignoring those previous opportunities as well as making current opportunities less attractive because of higher costs.   And then when working class people move away from OC/CH/C into Alamance or Durham or Chatham we have angst about them moving away, as if it's some kind of mystery why they're doing so.  Do you know why working classs people move away from OC/CH/C to those other places?  It's becuase those other places do more to accmodate affordilbility than we do.  It's that simple.  A program whose aim shouts "WE'RE TRYING TO MAKE THINGS MORE AFFORDIBLE" doesn't matter, instead, actually making a place more affordible is what counts. Tanger did that, both in the form of shopping opportunities and in the form of tax revenues, and yet we let Alamance County have it.

Because I hear a theory of why Tanger chose to locate in Alamance that is only one possibility.  There are many others, and I personally think that sales tax level (which was the same when Tanger chose) is a very small part of the calculation for these businesses.  on an unrelated note, I bought an e-book from Amazon today and was very surprised to be charged sales tax.  They still don't charge it on physical sales, but apparently they do on e-books.  What a twisted world.

I didn't mean to imply Tanger chose Alamance solely because of the sales tax rate.  I assume that all things considered, Tanger or any other seller prefers a lower sales tax rate but that it's not that big a deal in the overall picture.  I don't know how it came to be that Tanger ended up just on the Alamance side of the line but considering how much money there was to lose, whoever was in a position to do so should have taken steps to make sure it ended up on our side of the line. But Tanger ends up on the Alamance side of the line and a bunch of stores end up on the Durham side of the line to the east and now it's beginning to happen in Chatham to the south.  And we just raise the sales tax rate.  That sounds penny wise and pound foolish to me. I get the impression some people like it that way.  In some ways I liike it that way, but in other ways definitely not.  One thing the approach undoubtedly does though is raise the cost of living so IMO we at least shouldn't pretend affordability is an issue.  As far as e-books go, you remind me of a letter to the editor in the CHN this past Sunday bemoaning proposals to triple the physical size of our local libraries at the dawn of the e-book era.  Hey, I'm not alone in something for a change!  He left one thing out though.  He didn't mention bookless libraries.  They already exist.  (Google it if you're interested.)   I hope they're planning these expanded buildings to hold terminals and computer equipment instead of books.I'm considering buying an Ipad soon.  If I do I'm going to get the one with the smallest storage, which is 16 GB.  From what I read, 16 GB can store about 15,000 books.  That's one a day for 40+ years.  The computer I'm using now is something like 670 GB.  And as it has for the past 50 years, it's just going to get better and cheaper and more efficient.  It's just an embarrassment of riches.  We're so wealthy as a society and we don't even realize it.  But anyway, the last thing we need now with regards to public libraries is more storage space for physical books.  Yes, some people will continue using them and maybe they'll never go away completely but demand for them is going to go down, not up.

There is a major $$$gotcha with these large coporations storing and controlling your information, after the few companies (oligopoly) that win this control they will also control how much you pay to store this information (anyone rememeber time sharing) and how large a price increase you will see (netflix 60% increase as of 9/01/2011.) I'd get the 64GB wifi Ipad and still store my music and other information locally. Also with cloud access anywhere, you will need a data plan which is another $$$$ gotcha which the oligopoly controls. Wifi doesnot need data plan and plenty of free wifi's around.

In addition to being somewhere along the I-40 / I-85 corridor north of metro Charlotte, I reckon Tanger chose just over the OC county line because OC household income is relatively high, retail sales ops are relatively low, plus land costs and property taxes in Alamance are much less than OC. I doubt Tanger would have built in OC since Alamance offers a better cost structure for their investment. Lack of appropriate infrastructure, high lannd costs and property tax rates, and long development approval timelines (and uncertainty) have regularly made OC relatively unattractive regional investment choice

It seems like a waste of effort to compete with neighboring jurisdictions for economic development that brings more sales tax revenue in. We win, they lose. We lose, they win. It all seems off-target. (or off-Target as they say in big-time economic development circles...). We all live in an extended region that we travel within, shop within, etc. These arbitrary boundaries might be a waste of time - although they do benefit the enterprises shopping for "incentives".



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This Week in Orange Politics

It'll be a busy week across Orange County this week. The Carrboro Alderfolks will discuss bicycle-friendliness and the Lloyd Farm propery mediation process, while the Chapel Hill Town Council will get an update on UNC-related development. Both school boards will review the student performance data recently released by the state, while the Hillsborough Town Board will get an update on the Colonial Inn. The county commmissioners will meet with the Mebane City Council on public transportation and the Buckhorn EDD, and will get an update on Southern Branch Library in a serperate meeting.

CHALT and the Sierra Club/Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce/WCHL will hold candidate forums for Chapel Hill candidates.

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