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salestaxnow300.jpg Submitted by Hailey Winslow on Wed, 05/05/2010 - 3:15pm.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Most New Hanover County Commissioners lobbied for a sales tax increase, saying it could help avoid a property tax increase. Voters narrowly approved the sales tax hike last night, but they may still face a bigger property tax bill. Even with the sales tax increase, the county is looking at about a $6 million shortfall. Part of the problem is paying for the bonds voters passed a few years ago. If commissioners approve a one-cent property tax increase to cover the bonded debt, it would still leave the county about $3 million in the red. Rather than raising taxes further to cover that shortfall, commission chair Jason Thompson suggests cutting quality of life services by 10 percent across the board. Commissioner Bill Caster is also in favor of cutting spending, rather than a tax increase. "I'm personally against property tax," Caster said. "I hope we don't have to get into that, because people are hurting already, and that just increases it." Caster suggests holding off on issuing a bond for new construction at Cape Fear Community College and cutting some of the 900 jobs the county pays for in the school system. The cuts could start tomorrow. The Commission has a budget work session at the Government Complex at 2 p.m. Aside from the penny property tax increase to cover the bonded debt, county commissioner Jonathan Barfield supports an extra one-cent increase to cover the rest of the shortfall. Thompson would also consider an additional property tax increase. Caster and Ted Davis say they would not support an additional property tax increase. Bobby Greer would not say either way. The county budget must be finalized by the end of June.

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