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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — For the last few months Brunswick County Commissioners have been trying to discuss the best way to use the sales tax in their county.

First they voted down changing sales tax distribution. Now they’re asking voters to increase the tax.

This afternoon the commissioners voted 4-1 to put the sales tax increase on the May ballot. It’s a move supporters say saves the citizens money.

“Personally as a taxpayer I know we’re going to have to pay for this sooner or later,” said Brunswick County Commission Chairman Phil Norris. “I would rather have that cost paid by as many people.”

The way the referendum is structured, sales tax would increase a quarter of a cent to an even 7 cents per dollar, which is the same as New Hanover County.

According to the commissioners this would add about $3 million a year into the county coffers, which would then be used on beach nourishment and school maintenance and renovations. But not everyone at today’s hearing thought it was a fiscally sound proposal.

“The citizens are being asked to pick up heavier and heavier burdens for public expenditures, and you just have to say, ‘Where do we draw the line?'” Colleen Combs of Southport said.

Republican Frank Williams was the only commissioner to vote against the plan.

“This just came about a little too quickly for my liking, and I have some concerns with putting it on the ballot in the primary when a lot fewer people will vote than will be voting in November,” he said.

Commission Chair Phil Norris says he felt the reason behind the timing of the vote was that if passed the tax would be in place in time for the summer tourism season.

Members of the school system also spoke out in favor of the tax. They say it will help them delay asking for another bond potentially until their current bond is paid off.

“I guess perhaps most people don’t realize that we don’t get capital dollars coming out of Raleigh these days, everything is local,” said Brunswick County Board of Education Chair John Thompson. “The needs are piling up at our doorstep and some of our buildings are 50 years old.”

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