Forsyth County voters delivered an overwhelming “no” Tuesday to a quarter-cent increase in the county sales-and-use tax rate to pay for new courthouse facilities and provide leftover money for the local school system.
There were 88,765 votes, or 68 percent, against the sales tax increase, compared with 41301 votes, or 32 percent, for the proposal.
If the proposal had passed, the sales-tax rate would have risen to 7 percent from the current 6.75 percent — 4.75 percent state tax and 2 percent county tax.
People would have paid an extra 1 cent on a $4 purchase, an extra 25 cents on a $100 purchase, and an extra $2.50 on a $1,000 purchase.
The increase would not have applied to grocery or gasoline purchases, and all consumers who shop in the county, including nonresidents, would have paid the taxes.
The quarter-cent sales-tax increase would have generated about $14 million in the first full year, based on estimates by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
With the defeat of the proposal, property taxes are likely to rise to pay for the courthouse.
Members of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners have said that a “no” vote on the quarter-cent sales tax would mean an estimated property-tax increase of 3.1 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation. The current rate of 72.3 cents would rise to 75.45 cents.
The expected property-tax increase would mean $46.50 in additional tax a year for a house valued at $150,000. Owners of real estate and registered vehicles pay property taxes in Forsyth County, and landlords typically build property taxes into the rents they charge.
The commissioners recently voted to give Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools a 40 percent allocation of excess revenue from the proposed sales tax, after they paid for the court facilities.
Any remaining money would have been restricted to other county debt, capital expenditures or reduction of property taxes.